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Arizona Supreme Court Tosses Proposition to Guarantee Vote by Secret Ballot

November 4, 2014

PHOENIX – The Arizona Supreme Court ruled late Tuesday that Proposition 108 won’t be considered by Arizona voters during the November 2010 general election. The ballot measure sought to protect the right to vote by secret ballot in elections creating labor unions and during public elections.

The Supreme Court issued the decision without comment but said a formal opinion will be issued sometime in the future, which is common practice in election-related cases. Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Robert Oberbillig had previously ruled Prop. 108 should be removed from the November ballot after the United Commercial and Food Workers union filed a lawsuit claiming the language didn’t comply with a constitutional requirement that ballot measures address only one subject at a time.

Clint Bolick, the Goldwater Institute’s litigation director, helped to draft the secret ballot protection measure and said the construction of the amendment mirrored another constitutional amendment from 2008 that the Arizona Supreme Court said complied with the single-subject requirement.

“We do not know the reason that the Court tossed Prop. 108 off the ballot, but this outcome represents another lurch in the Arizona Supreme Court’s rulings on the issue of single-subject ballot measures, rulings that seem to zig or zag with each new case,” Mr. Bolick said. “It is impossible to know how to draft a measure when the Court’s rules shift like sand in the wind.”

The Arizona Legislature originally referred Prop. 108 to voters during its 2009 legislative session. With Tuesday’s action by the Supreme Court, Mr. Bolick said lawmakers would have to act within days on a revised version if they want to ensure voters can decide this issue in November. This measure would be the state’s best defense against any new federal laws that would strip away secret-ballot elections for creating a labor union, he said.

“We hope that the governor will call a special session so that Arizona voters can decide the important question of whether workers will have the right to secret ballot in union representation elections –a right that has existed under federal law for 75 years but is in grave jeopardy,” Mr. Bolick said.

The Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation represented the campaign committee supporting Prop. 108. The Goldwater Institute is a research and litigation organization whose work is made possible by the generosity of its supporters.



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