Governor Signs Bill Authorizing Expansion of Arizona Supreme Court to Seven Justices


5/24/16  On May 18, 2016, conservative Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill increasing the number of justices on the Arizona Supreme Court from five to seven.  According to an April 5, 2016 article in the Tucson Daily Star the expansion plan was opposed by five former Arizona Supreme Court Chief Justices.   Former Chief Justice Charles “Bud” Jones was quoted as saying “The only reason…would be a political reason…There can be no other. It’s a court-packing arrangement for political influence.”  In his one previous nomination to the court, Governor Ducey selected Clint Bolick, a lawyer for the conservative Goldwater Institute.  Presumably Governor Ducey will now try to pack the court with more conservative lawyers.

 

According to the article, current Chief Justice Scott Bales initially supported the plan because it was coupled with additional money for the Judiciary branch.  In response to that former chief justice Thomas Zlaket, was quoted as saying, “I like this chief justice [Bales], I have great respect for him,” Zlaket said. “I think it’s a bad idea for the court to negotiate this kind of a deal with the Legislature.”  “People seem to forget that this is an independent branch,” he said of the judiciary. “I don’t like the idea of having to negotiate and give a quid pro quo for what should be normal, fair government functioning.”  Later apparently Chief Justice Bales changed his position and urged the Governor to veto the bill, according to a May 18, 2016 article in the Washington Times.

 

It remains to be seen what effect the expanded court will have on the rights of the accused in Arizona.

 

For further reading on this issue, see any of the recent articles below:

 

http://tucson.com/news/local/columnists/steller/steller-governor-could-pack-supreme-court-under-bill/article_bada5dfb-6085-5533-92ac-8b58a230d15f.html

 

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/may/18/gov-doug-ducey-signs-bill-expanding-arizona-suprem/

 

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/05/court-packing-enjoys-a-political-renaissance/481758/

 

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