Both sides claim win in Supreme Court ruling
Published: June 23, 2009 at 7:23 pm
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