Myriad Republican lawmakers attended this morning’s Arizona Supreme Court hearing in the legal challenge that pits Gov. Jan Brewer against top Republicans in the Legislature. The hearing lasted about an hour, with both sides given 30 minutes to present their arguments to the five state Supreme Court justices.
Republicans in the gallery included: Sen. Chuck Gray, Sen. Russell Pearce, Rep. John Kavanagh, Sen. Jack Harper, Senate President Bob Burns, Rep. Doug Quelland and House Speaker Kirk Adams. There were too many Republican lawmakers to name, actually, but few, if any, Democrats.
Capitol Times reporters Christian Palmer and Jeremy Duda were there to scrounge some news for the paper, and came back with a few quick highlights.
Here’s the skinny:
The justices cut short attorneys arguments about the political battle behind the legal challenge that has pitted Brewer against top Republican lawmakers. They instead sought answers about why they should accept Brewer’s petition for special action, asking for an explanation for how Brewer would be harmed if the court refused to accept the case.
Justice Andrew Hurwitz surmised that a veto of the budget was in the future, anyway, otherwise the case wouldn’t have been brought up.
Brewer’s attorney Joe Kanefield said Brewer’s intentions regarding the budget measures shouldn’t figure into the legal analysis. Most importantly, he said, the Legislature should submit the bills to Brewer in order to allow her the proper time to review and act on the bills. Holding off could lead to a shutdown of government services.
Justices sought Kanefield’s input on whether the governor wants an immediate order to leadership to submit the bills or some sort of an established test to determine what constitutes a “reasonable time” for bills to be turned over.
Kanefield said the goal is an immediate order stating that the nature of the bills, considering they are appropriations bills, demanded action. “It is different and deserving of special treatment,” he said.
The attorney representing the Legislature, David Cantelme, claimed the governor wanted the bills transfered simply to gain a political advantage – but he was interrupted by Justice Scott Bales, who asked “Isn’t that why the Legislature is holding them?”
Cantelme said there’s still time for the Legislature to vote to suspend its rules to rescind or reconsider the budget bills. “Any member of the Senate could upset the apple cart if they could command 16 votes.”
The timing of transferring bills to the governor is strictly the prerogative of the Legislature, Cantelme argued.
The justices gave no indication of whether they will accept jurisdiction of the case. It’s unclear when the court will announce its intentions.