Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Governor Ducey unconstitutionally stacks Appellate Commission

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIXSenate Democratic Caucus members of the Judiciary Committee released the following statements on Governor Ducey's lack of diversity in his appointments, including his five appointments up for approval in the Senate, to the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments:

Background: The Commission on Appellate Court Appointments is one of three Arizona judicial nominating commissions and deals with appointments to Arizona's appellate courts, which include the Arizona Supreme Court. Commission members evaluate applicants for vacant judicial positions and then submit a list of candidates from which the governor makes his decision. The Commission also chooses the candidates available for selection by elected officials to the Independent Redistricting Commission, which determines Arizona's congressional and legislative districts every ten years.

The Arizona Constitution states: "In making or confirming appointments to the appellate court commission, the governor, the senate and the state bar shall endeavor to see that the commission reflects the diversity of Arizona's population."

·        Currently Arizona has slightly more women than men, yet only 1 out of 15 current Commission members are women and only three of the five nominees are women.
·        Arizona is split in thirds by party registration – Republican, Democratic and Independent – yet there is not a single Democrat on the Commission and none of the nominees are Democrats.
·      55% of Arizona citizens identify as White, 32% Hispanic, 5% American Indian, 5% Black and 3.5% Asian, yet there are no persons of color serving on the Commission and just one person of color has been nominated to serve.
·        One Republican senator has complained that Governor Napolitano only appointed Democrats to this commission but that is false. She appointed seven Republicans to the commission.

Senator Martin Quezada:
Sen. Quezada
"The current makeup of the Commission doesn't even come close to meeting the constitutional requirement that it reflect the diversity of Arizona's population. If we don't have a Commission that reflects our state's diversity, we won't have a Judiciary that reflects our diversity. Without a diverse Judiciary, the people of Arizona will lose confidence that they will get a fair hearing before the courts. Just as important, we need a diverse Commission to appoint a diverse Independent Redistricting Commission. It appears that's what's going on here – the governor is unconstitutionally stacking the Appellate Commission with conservative and predominantly white male appointments so they will help create an IRC that will draw districts favorable to elect Republican politicians. That's a serious problem. We must ensure that Arizona's women and communities of color are represented fairly in our courts and in our political districts."

Senator Andrea Dalessandro:
Sen. Dalessandro
"We must strive to have Commission members who have the experience and qualification to make well-informed decisions on court appointments and put the interests of the state ahead of political interests or loyalties. Unfortunately, it appears that the main qualification for the five nominees is their political connections. One is married to a staff member of Governor Ducey. One is a lobbyist and the son-in-law of a legislator. One is the wife of a former Republican politician. And one who is filling a position as an Independent was a Republican precinct committeeperson just a few years ago. These should be 'what you know' appointments, not 'who you know.' If that's how members of this important commission think the system should work, then that's how they'll select our judges, too. That's just wrong."

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