Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Friday, January 14, 2011

Attorneys for Screening Panel file response to Pearce/Adams' suit

Today, the Arizona Attorney General, counsel for the screening panel, filed a response to the special action recently brought by Senate President Russell Pearce and House Speaker Kirk Adams.  In it, Pearce and Adams ask the Arizona Supreme Court to remove three names from the list of eligible Arizona Redistricting Commissioner appointees for the 2011 effort to redraw Congressional and legislative district lines.

The main arguments the AG presents in the response are:
  • Pearce and Adams lack standing to ask the Court to order the screening panel to re-do its list because they have not been harmed in any way by what has been done by the panel; 
  • Rather than anyone asking the Court to order any person to be removed due to being unqualified, IF anyone believes (after the fact) that an appointed commissioner is not qualified, the proper course of action is to file a "quo warranto" action; 
  • The term "public office" was properly construed by the screening panel; and 
  • To allow Pearce and Adams to get away with forcing persons included on the list to withdraw is a harmful precedent.

As I am not a legal analyst, I am certainly unqualified to predict how the Arizona Supreme Court will rule in this case, but I am encouraged by this filing.

I received the AG response by email.  It should soon be available for viewing online.  When I learn where it gets posted, I will update this blog to provide the link (should be Saturday morning).  Next up, I will read the amicus briefs filed today and will post on them shortly.

UPDATE -- Amicus briefs

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk's brief alleges that the screening panel's inclusion of Bender, Schnepf and Sossaman on the list constitutes an "abuse of discretion" and was "arbitrary and capricious."  Further, her argument appears to revolve entirely around the notion that the Supreme Court should rule the panel did not provide sufficient political and geographic diversity to allow legislative leaders to make "meaningful" choices.  However, I don't find anywhere in this brief an objective standard or definition for what could be considered meaningful.  Overall, from my perspective (lacking a law school education), this brief seems notably uncompelling.  I was also unable to determine what her actual interest in supporting the Pearce/Adams' petition is.

Arizona's GOP Congressional Representatives (Flake, Franks, Gosar, Schweikert and Quayle) essentially argue that the definition of "public office" is "natural, obvious and ordinary."  In other words (they say), Pearce/Adams are right to ask for the court to intervene "just because."  Perhaps that's a bit oversimplified, but I don't see a compelling argument for overruling the deliberative conclusion that the screening panel came up with on its own.

The final brief was submitted by a group including former ASU president Lattie Coor, former Phoenix mayor Paul Johnson, the Valley Citizens' League (Phoenix) and the Arizona Latino Research Enterprise.  Listed as one of the attorneys for this group is former Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justice Stanley Feldman.  This brief largely echos the same points as the AG response summarized above.  Notable is the compelling arguments about why deference should be given to the way the screening panel construed the term "public office."  This brief, however, is limited to consideration of the situation with Professor Bender.  No mention is made of either Schnepf or Sossaman.

1 comment:

  1. Still no link available for viewing the briefs submitted yesterday. If you'd like a copy, please email