Changing Arizona's Supreme Court

August 23, 2012

Governor Jan Brewer has three finalists to choose from to fill a vacancy on the state Supreme Court. If a November ballot initiative is passed, the number of finalists for a future opening would be at least eight. And all of them could be from the same political party.

From Phoenix, KJZZ's Steve Goldstein reports.

STEVE GOLDSTEIN: The Commission on Appellate Court Appointments nominated Republican Judges Ann Scott Timmer and Douglas Rayes, and Democratic Judge Diane Johnsen to fill the seat that had been held by Andrew Hurwitz, who has moved on to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Current state law requires more than one political party to be represented among finalists for a Supreme Court opening. But that would change if Proposition 115 is passed in November. Zig Popko, professor at ASU's O'Connor College of Law, says that would be a significant change.

ZIG POPKO: Our judiciary should reflect the diversity of the state. If you get into a system where the judiciary is all white male Democrats or all white male Republicans, those people who can't identify with that race and gender and political affiliation, well, the judiciary may lose credibility with them.

GOLDSTEIN: The proposed changes are the result of a compromise between state court officials and the legislature. Arizona's current merit selection system has been in place since 1974.

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