On Wednesday, the Arizona Supreme Court refused to stay a Maricopa County Superior Court judge’s ruling that four budget bills passed by the Arizona Legislature earlier this year were unconstitutional. As a result, it is unclear if laws protecting Arizonans from various COVID-19 related mandates will not go into effect, nor will laws protecting school children from radical Critical Race Theory teachings.
The laws were set to go into effect on Wednesday.
Arizona Supreme Court Justice Ann Timmer wrote the order for all justices except Justice Kathryn King. Notably, the ruling is not on the merits of the case, and the Supreme Court is still weighing whether to take the case on immediately or allow it to proceed first through the Appeals Courts. If the Supreme Court refuses to step in right away, the state can still appeal Cooper’s rulings first at the Appeals Court level, before returning to the Supreme Court should it not prevail at the appellate level.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper ruled in favor of the Arizona School Boards Assn (ASBA) and other education groups, who challenged the bills that would have protected school children from restrictive mask mandates, prohibited vaccine passports, and banned Critical Race Theory in the classroom. The ASBA challenged the laws on the basis that the bills either violate Arizona’s Constitutional “title requirement” or single subject rule.
“There is an orchestrated attempt by outside left-wing groups to undermine Arizona’s lawfully enacted statutes in order to push their radical ideas,” alleged Attorney General Mark Brnovich in response to the Supreme Court’s ruling.
The Arizona Attorney General’s Office (AGO) had asked for the stay.
The AG’s Office is arguing that the lower court’s ruling is “legally erroneous” in multiple ways which would significantly affect government operations.
“Those multiple flaws carry serious statewide consequences for the legislative process in Arizona and could now subject hundreds of state laws to challenge on title and single subject grounds,” the AGO’s petition argued. “[The] State will continue to suffer harm if the trial court’s ruling is not swiftly overturned, allowing the challenged provisions to immediately go into effect.”
The AGO argued in the petition that “extraordinary circumstances” warrant the transfer.
This is the second loss in the courts by Brnovich this week.
Earlier, a federal district court struck down portions of Arizona’s pro-life law, S.B. 1457.