The Arizona Constitution requires that the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments reflects the diversity of Arizona, yet Governor Doug Ducey has stacked the Commission with a majority of conservative white men and not a single Democrat.
This Commission will help decide the makeup of the Independent Redistricting Commission, which draws new congressional and legislative districts following the upcoming census. The Commission on Appellate Court Appointments screens and puts forward candidates for every position on the IRC. Elected officials then select the two Republican and two Democratic members of the IRC from that pool forwarded from the Appellate Commission. Those four partisan IRC appointees then select the Independent chair from the pool of Independent candidates forwarded by the Appellate Commission.
It appears what's going on here is 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.
Today the Senate approved, on party lines, the governor's five most recent appointees, which don't move the commission's makeup enough toward meeting that constitutional requirement. Here are the details:
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 only on person of color serves on the Commission.
One Republican senator has complained that Governor Napolitano was partisan with her appointments to this commission but that is false. She appointed seven Republicans to the commission and eight Democrats.
Watch this week's Canyonside Chat on this issue with Senator Martin Quezada and Senator Andrea Dalessandro, then watch Senator Quezada's explanation of his no votes on the floor:
Senator Martin Quezada and Senator Andrea Dalessandro discuss how Governor Doug Ducey has been unconstitutionally stacking the important Arizona Commission on Appellate Court Appointments by ignoring the requirement that it reflect our state's diversity.
Watch Senator Martin Quezada explain his vote against Governor Ducey's unconstitutional nominees for the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments.
“Bipartisan” bill count
The final tally of Senate bills heard in the Senate:
While Democrats hold 43 percent of seats in the Senate, our bills only account for 7.9 percent of bills heard.
“It’s a gap that I don’t think anybody knew was there, unless you had been raped, or if someone very close to you had been raped, like a loved one,” Senator Victoria Steele said. “It could prevent them from entering the survivor’s home, or workplace, or school,” she added.
Highlights From The Past Week
Our first Joint Budget Town Hall was a huge success! Thanks to everyone who came out to learn more about the state budget and thanks to our colleagues in the House for putting the event together. We'll be doing another one soon!
Senator Andrea Dalessandro (far left) and Senator Sally Ann Gonzalez (center with microphone) held a Town Hall with their House colleagues for their Legislative Districts 2 and 3.