“Should the Attorney General have standing to bring a constitutional claim against the Arizona Board of Regents, a constitutionally-created state agency?” That is the question four of Arizona’s former attorneys general addressed in an amicus brief filed last week with the Arizona Supreme Court.
Former Arizona Attorneys General Jack LaSota, Bob Corbin, Terry Goddard, and Tom Horne filed the amicus brief in support of Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s petition to the court seeking the overturning of the McFate decision. The McFate case ruling limits the power of the attorney general to act independently.
In September, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office petitioned the Supreme Court to review the dismissal of the Office’s lawsuit against the Arizona Board of Regents for the allegedly unconstitutionally high tuition at the state’s three universities.
The Attorney General’s Office challenged the Regents for the “skyrocketing tuition and fees” at the universities.
As the ADI previously reported:
Since 2017, the Attorney General’s Office has sought court review of Arizona Board Of Regents (ABOR) policies and practices for unlawful tuition and fee-setting actions, as well as public money subsidies paid to ineligible students under state law.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, Arizona’s Constitution requires instruction at the state’s public colleges to be provided “as nearly free as possible.” Despite this, the Arizona Board of Regents has increased tuition and mandatory fees at state universities by over 300% since 2003.
The petition also seeks clarity on a 1960’s case ruling Arizona State Land Department v. McFate. The Arizona Court of Appeals unanimously concluded McFate’s limitation on the Attorney General’s authority to initiate lawsuits “appears to be flawed.”
According to Brnovich’s office, the four former attorneys general provide information and “a unique perspective” to the issue the McFate case presents. Their combined twenty-six years of experience, “informs their views upon the issues presented in this matter and places them in a uniquely situated position to assist this Court by offering their perspective on the issues.”
In their brief, the attorneys general request that the Arizona Supreme Court grant the Petition for Review and reverse the Court of Appeals’ decision upholding the trial court’s dismissal for lack of standing. In doing so, the Court should overrule McFate and hold that A.R.S. § 41-193(A)(2) grants the Attorney General, as Arizona’s chief legal officer, the authority to initiate lawsuits when deemed necessary to address matters of State concern and to protect the public interest.