By Steve Muratore
Today, Arizona Court of Appeals Judge Randall Howe ordered the following in the special action filed by the Citizens Clean Elections Commission, state Rep. Victoria Steele, CCEC commissioner Louis Hoffman and the Arizona Advocacy Network to challenge the hubris of the Republican majority in the Arizona Legislature regarding campaign contribution limits:
At the conclusion of oral argument,
IT IS ORDERED accepting special action jurisdiction and granting relief, with opinion to follow.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED preliminarily enjoining Real Party in Interest, Ken Bennett, in his official capacity as Secretary of State, from enforcing or implementing House Bill 2593 pending further order of this court.
Judge Howe's order reversed an earlier ruling by Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Mark Brain, who declined to issue the plaintiffs' requested injunction.
Earlier this month, plaintiffs filed their petition in the Appeals Court. Concluding, after making the case in the first 40 pages,
For the foregoing reasons, Petitioners respectfully request that this Court accept special action jurisdiction, reverse the trial court’s denial of Petitioners’ Motion for a Preliminary Injunction, and preliminarily (and, if appropriate, permanently) enjoin the Secretary from implementing HB 2593.
Secretary of State and gubernatorial wannabe Ken Bennett, Senate President Andy Biggs and Congressional wannabe and House Speaker Andy Tobin responded to the lawsuit. Former Senate President Steve Pierce along with Toby Farmer and the Southern Arizona Conservative PAC filed an amicus brief hoping to sway the Appeals Court. Plaintiffs replied to the amicus brief pointing out that Pierce, Farmer and sacpac had nothing to add that Bennett, Biggs and Tobin couldn't advocate for.
Amici do not articulate any reason why Petitioners’ should not be granted the relief they seek. Petitioners therefore respectfully request that this Court accept special action jurisdiction, reverse the trial court’s denial of Petitioners’ Motion for a Preliminary Injunction, and preliminarily (and, if appropriate, permanently) enjoin the Secretary from implementing HB 2593.
A footnote in plaintiffs reply is notable:
"That Amici have discerned ways to circumvent the base limits even with the aggregate caps in place does not diminish the aggregate caps’ function as an anti-circumvention measure. (Amici Br. 32.) Nor does Amici’s suggestion that there were other ways the voters could have addressed anti-circumvention concerns establish that the aggregate individual cap is not designed to prevent circumvention."
Today's ruling is a clear and emphatic, if possibly only temporary, statement that in Arizona the unholy alliance between Big Money and GOP lawmakers must be subject to the explicitly stated limits as implemented by the voters of this state.
This case also magnifies the significance of last fall's vote on Prop 115 and last month's Arizona Supreme Court ruling completely and permanently blocking HB 2600. Politicizing the courts in our state would be disastrous, ironically rendering rulings like these meaningless.
The extreme right wing that controls Arizona's GOP doesn't give two hoots about the will of the voters -- except when it suits them and/or when they can manipulate populist sentiment into anti-government fervor (Tea Party).
By the way, this victory could be only temporary because the next step is virtually guaranteed, appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court. If the Supremes agree with Judge Howe, then we could see a lawsuit brought in federal court. I'm reminded of the not so distant past when the SCOTUS blocked a Montana Supreme Court ruling regarding campaign finance limits.
Since today's ruling is a case where the challenge to campaign finance limits came from the legislature, I can't speculate with any certainty on how close of a parallel it has to the Montana case.
Further, I can't help but picture the three respondents, Ken Bennett, Andy Biggs and Andy Tobin bowing down to their god, Big Money and praying that this goes -- quickly -- to the US Supreme Court.
The original post can be viewed here.