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Justices quick on the draw, but ruling odd

Justices quick on the draw, but ruling odd

That was fast. And somewhat bewildering.

It took the Arizona Supreme Court roughly five hours to issue a ruling that left both sides claiming victory in a legal challenge that resulted from the seriously fouled up budget negotiations between Gov. Jan Brewer and the Arizona Legislature.

OK, so the justices got the first set of written arguments a week before the June 23 oral arguments. But, still, the quick turnaround was pretty darn remarkable.

State high courts and the U.S. Supreme Court have been known to drag out decisions for months. Although a delay such as that would have rendered this case pointless, I, for one, didn’t think we’d see a ruling for days.

The downside is that it provides a truncated explanation for the action the court decided to take. In this case, the court didn’t notate exactly how it came to the conclusion that, in essence, the governor’s case had merit and the Legislature should indeed be prevented from withholding legislation for political reasons.

But, at the same time, the ruling stopped short of demanding the Legislature to turn over the budget bills that were approved by both chambers on June 4. It only stated that the bills need to be on Brewer’s desk by the end of the fiscal year, which was never in dispute.

Boiled down, the ruling seems to indicate Brewer was both right and wrong in her assertions that the Legislature has a requirement to give her legislation soon after it passes.

It also sends a signal to the Legislature that it had better not try those kinds of shenanigans again – but, at the same time, allowing lawmakers to continue along in their strategy, which, in effect, could pin Brewer up against a wall to either sign a budget she doesn’t agree with or shut down non-essential government services until the two sides can reach an agreement.

I’m sure the justices have solid reasons for their seemingly peculiar decision. But it would have been nice if they would have seen the wisdom of illuminating Arizona residents as well.

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