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Both sides claim win in Supreme Court ruling

Gov. Jan Brewer, Senate President Bob Burns and House Speaker Kirk Adams all claimed victory following the Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling in the governor’s case against the Legislature.

Less than six hours after hearing oral arguments, the court on June 23 accepted jurisdiction and ruled that the Legislature did not send its budget bills to the governor as mandated by the state Constitution. However, the court also ruled that due to unique circumstances, it will not order lawmakers to immediately transmit the bills to Brewer, as the governor had requested in her lawsuit.

Brewer spokesman Paul Senseman said the Supreme Court was clear that the Constitution requires Burns to send the budget package to the Ninth Floor, and he said Brewer will continue asking the Senate president to do so, despite the lack of an actual order from the court.

“It certainly shouldn’t take an order of the Supreme Court … for the Legislature to abide by the Constitution,” Senseman said. “The governor is quite hopeful that, given the fact that the Supreme Court agrees with her legal position that the Constitution requires them to send (the bills), that they would send them.”

Burns and Adams released a joint statement that read, “The court took jurisdiction but denied relief to the governor, which means the Legislature does not have to transmit the bills immediately, but no later than June 30. From the beginning, we have said these bills will be transmitted in this session. We are pleased the court will not intervene in the present situation and we will continue to work with the governor to reach consensus on a budget.”

Adams, however, said he did not believe the court had come to the correct conclusion that the decision to withhold the budget legislation violated the state’s Constitution. The court’s order, at the same time, did not discredit the Legislature’s strategy of withholding the bills from Brewer.

“We disagree with the court’s decision in that regard,” he said. “It was an impeachment of our legislative (power).”

Adams said House attorneys were still reviewing the order and attempting to determine if the court’s judgment applies to legislation that is unrelated to the budget that is being passed and ready for submittal to the governor.

“They seemed to have split the baby, in some regards,” he said.

Senseman said Brewer will continue meeting with legislative leadership, and said more budget discussions were scheduled for later in the evening. But he would not speculate on what steps Brewer would take if Burns refused to send her the bills.

“I’m not certain exactly what will happen. I would assume that they would abide by the Constitution,” Senseman said.

House Democrats, meanwhile, castigated both parties and characterized the court battle as a waste of taxpayer time and money.

“Arizonans aren’t better off today after a weeklong court quarrel between a Republican governor and Republican lawmakers,” according to a statement attributed to House Minority Leader David Lujan. “This was just a waste of time for the whole state.”

The Legislature approved a budget package on June 4, but has refused to transmit the bills to Brewer while the two sides negotiate. On June 15, Brewer held a press conference to announce that Burns had walked out on budget negotiations with her the night before, and accused lawmakers of waiting until June 30 to give her the bills so they could force her to either sign a budget she disapproved of or order a government shutdown.

Brewer threatened legal action to force the Legislature to send her the budget bills, and filed suit in the state Supreme Court the next day alleging that Burns had violated the section of the Arizona Constitution that states, “every measure when finally passed shall be presented to the governor for his approval or disapproval.”

Read the Arizona Supreme Court’s order at http://azcapitoltimes.com/wp-files//budgetdisputeorder.pdf

5 comments

  1. Adams and Burns are foolish. I think the Arizona constitution should be amended to add a definite deadline so future fools won’t be tempted to play these silly and destructive games with the budget.

  2. The Supreme Court of Arizona had no jurisdiction and should be challenged by the Legislature.

    We shall see whether they are up to the extended contest to determine whether Arizona has three equal branches of government or a dominant Judiciary.

  3. What, the Court was not going to interfere? What do you think they did?

    The Court, in effect, decided to include the Legislature’s political gamesmanship in its decision: “Indeed, we cannot know whether the Legislature would have passed the bills when it did had it anticipated our decision.” This statement contradicts the Court’s ruling on its constitutionality opinion! Oh, they are wrong, but let’s give them more time, the Court seems to be saying.

    That’s judicial activism, pure and simple — the law is what the law is!

  4. Here we go again, legislating from the bench.

  5. My previous comment needs tweeked for accuracy. After further study, it is clear that the dominant branch of government is the Legislative Branch; after all, the Preamble of both the U.S. Constitution and the Arizona Constitution begins with , “We the People….” , it does not begin with , “We the Courts….”

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