This Arizona ballot measure would take major judicial elections away from voters

This Arizona ballot measure would take major judicial elections away from voters

The Arizona Supreme Court. (Photo courtesy of Arizona Supreme Court)

By Robert Gundran

June 27, 2024

If passed, SCR 1044 would take away power from Arizona voters.

The Republican-majority Arizona Legislature proposed a ballot measure that would remove the voters’ right to retain or dismiss Supreme and Superior Court justices.

SCR 1044, deceptively dubbed the “Judicial Accountability Act,” was introduced in the state Senate in early February. It passed both chambers of the Republican-majority Legislature along party lines and was sent for the voters to decide in November.

If passed, it would take away Arizona voters’ right to reelect justices and instead allow justices to choose when to retire.

RELATED: GOP lawmakers bypass Hobbs to add 11 measures to ballot. What to look out for

Justices on the Arizona Supreme Court serve six-year terms, and Superior Court justices serve four-year terms. When the time comes for their respective retention elections, voters can currently decide to dismiss the judge through a simple majority.

Eliminating judicial retention elections would mean judges serve until voluntary retirement or when they are forced to retire at 70 under Arizona law.

The measure would be retroactive to the 2024 election if passed, meaning it would nullify any judicial dismissals that happen in the Nov. 5 election.

One caveat to indefinite appointments is if a justice falls out of “good behavior.” The resolution describes falling out of good behavior as a felony conviction involving fraud, bankruptcy, foreclosure, or dishonesty.

The ballot measure is seemingly a way to protect two Arizona Supreme Court Justices who are up for retention this year. Clint Bolick and Kathryn Hackett King both ruled to reinstate the 1864 total abortion ban, which was later repealed.

Progress Arizona filed a lawsuit challenging the “Judicial Accountability Act.” The lawsuit claims the act is deceptively named because it actually removes accountability.

Author

  • Robert Gundran

    Robert Gundran grew up in the Southwest, spending equal time in the Valley and Southern California throughout his life. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism in 2018 and wrote for The Arizona Republic and The Orange County Register.

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