I can’t help but be optimistic about Arizona’s 52nd legislature.
This may seem strange considering some are saying Center for Arizona Policy is “not hot” right now. This very paper recently wrote that CAP had a “terrible year” in 2014, which is news to me.
For instance, I think everyone would agree that the election was the central story of last year, and by all measures, it turned out to be anything but terrible for those who support life, marriage and family, and religious freedom.
Arizonans voted for pro-life, pro-family majorities in both chambers for at least the fourth straight election, and put in place what is clearly one of the strongest conservative statewide elected teams in years. I have the utmost confidence in Governor Ducey’s leadership, and can say the same for our legislative leadership in Speaker Gowan and President Biggs.
The Arizona Capitol Times cited the veto of SB 1062 as a sign of our terrible year, but in the end, this veto seemed to have little or no effect on the election, as some predicted it would.
Every official who voted for SB 1062 was re-elected, save one (Carl Seel was defeated by Anthony Kern).
As for that veto, there is no doubt that the story of this bill is desperately sad. Not merely because it was vetoed, but because so many people were led to believe it was something it was not.
In the end though, a few months after the veto, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a central purpose of SB 1062 — that men and women do not surrender their first amendment religious freedom rights when they start a business.
Then there’s the discussion about CAP-supported laws that have been overturned by the courts. Not only are these claims way overstated, but the opinions, like everything from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, need to be taken with a grain of salt.
More than 1.2 million Arizona voters passed our state marriage amendment in 2008, defining marriage as only the union of one man and one woman in our state Constitution. Three judges in a 9th Circuit ruling on another case then resulted in a federal judge overturning the Arizona measure.
Yet practically speaking, this decision is far from over. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld marriage amendments in Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan, and Kentucky. The Supreme Court will announce soon whether they will take up this case and address the split now existing among court decisions. There they can right this wrong, and protect the will of the voters.
On the life front, I find it mind-boggling that anyone can say the pro-life movement has been anything but incredibly successful in Arizona.
Since 2009, 31 CAP-supported pro-life provisions have been signed into law, including the law we passed last year to ensure abortion clinics are subject to the same inspection standards as every other medical facility.
Of those 31, three — that’s right, only three — have been blocked by the 9th Circuit with review denied by the U.S. Supreme Court. One of these cases is still ongoing. In that case, two other circuit courts have upheld Ohio and Texas laws virtually identical to the Arizona law.
The facts are the Arizona Court of Appeals unanimously upheld 2009’s Abortion Consent Act.
Yet what also can’t be missed when looking at the life issue is that it’s not just that 31 pro-life laws have been signed into law with 28 in effect today. You’d be hard pressed to remember the last time a law drafted by Arizona’s largest abortion provider Planned Parenthood was signed into law.
Maybe we’re just spoiled in Arizona, but many states can’t say the same.
If this marks a terrible year, I’ll take it every time. It also makes me think about how we’ll make 2015 a great year.
— Cathi Herrod is president of the Center for Arizona Policy.