Setting a Dangerous Precedent

Posted on March 11, 2005
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A front page story in the Arizona Republic discusses the possibility of a state trust land proposal making it to the ballot in 2006. The proposal would amend Article X of the Arizona Constitution, which requires that state trust land be sold to the highest bidder for the benefit of public schools, and add provisions for various aspects of land management, including designating lands for conservation, determining how and which lands will be brought to market for development, and providing for managing long-term leases for farmers and ranchers.

But a recent Arizona Supreme Court decision opens the possibility that such an initiative will be removed from the ballot.  In  Clean Elections Institute v. Jan Brewer,  the Arizona Supreme Court removed an initiative from the ballot that had been signed by over 200,000 voters, saying that the initiative violated the so-called single-subject rule.  In thwarting the will of the people, the court established a dangerous precedent.  Any constitutional proposal that uses "and" in linking sections or clauses may not withstand constitutional scrutiny.  Those who cheered the Court's action in removing the initiative aimed at eliminating public subsidies for political campaigns would be wise to remember that those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

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