AZ Republicans Try to Pack State Supreme Court

AZ Republicans Try to Pack State Supreme Court May 8, 2016

The Republican party seems to think that judicial independence, which the Founding Fathers said was absolutely crucial to maintaining a free society, is their enemy. When a court doesn’t rule the way they want, they talk impeachment, defunding, refusing to comply with the ruling. And now, in Arizona, packing the court.

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Arizona Republicans are about to get two more justices on the state Supreme Court thanks to a bill approved by the legislature and heading to Gov. Doug Ducey’s desk that will expand the court from five to seven members and allow the Republican Ducey to appoint the new justices.

The move is being called a naked power grab and an obvious example of court packing — an accusation seemingly backed by the fact that the five current justices have said there’s no need for additional justices. However, in a twist, the state Supreme Court ultimately backed the proposal when the legislature leveraged much-needed funding for the judicial branch to get the court’s support. Ironically, some of that promised funding has already been scaled back, while the new judges will cost the state about $1 million annually.

“This is just another example of people in power exploiting their power,” said Mark Harrison, the chair of Justice at Stake, a nonpartisan judicial watchdog group. “They can do it, so they’re doing it.”

The bill was introduced by Republican state Rep. J.D. Mesnard, who denies that it is politically motivated court packing.

“More heads are better than fewer heads, especially when it comes to interpreting laws and the constitution,” he told the Associated Press.

Really? So why not make it 9? Or 27? Because you don’t really believe that, you just think it’s a path to getting your way. And Mesnard admits that if a Democrat were governor he’d be opposed to the idea:

In a hearing for the court expansion bill, Quezada suggested it be amended so the next governor chooses the new justices as way of taking politics out of the legislation. Its sponsor admitted he would no longer be on board if a Democrat could possibly be choosing the new judges.

“If the shoe were on the other foot, I’ll just candidly say if there were different person appointing, I might feel less comfortable,” Mesnard said.

It’s just a plain old power grab, justified with a thoroughly disingenuous argument. And it’s just another example of dishonest rhetoric from the GOP on judicial matters. Remember a couple years ago when President Obama nominated people to fill empty seats on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals? The Republicans in the Senate had the sheer audacity to accuse him of court-packing, which that cannot be by definition. But here is an actual court-packing scheme and they’re all for it.


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