The city of Tucson is joining two lawsuits against the Arizona Legislature with amicus curiae briefs.
The first is a lawsuit filed on August 12 by the Arizona School Boards Association, the Arizona Education Association and other education organizations and activists over HB 2898, SB 1824, and SB 1825, which prohibit mask and vaccine mandates, ban Critical Race Theory, and establish a legislative committee to review the findings of the state Senate review of the November 2020 election results in Maricopa County.
The second is a lawsuit filed by the city of Phoenix over HB 2893, which sets the qualifications for members of police review boards including requiring training. It also allows a legislator to submit a request to the Arizona attorney general for an investigation of “any written policy, written rule or written regulation adopted by any agency, department or other entity of the county, city or town.”
Both lawsuits contend the legislation, which was part of budget bills, violates the Arizona Constitution’s “single subject” and budget appropriations requirements. Article IV, Pt. II, Section 13’s “single subject rule” states that a legislative act shall contain just one subject and it shall be reflected in the title. However, the city of Phoenix acknowledged in its complaint that Arizona caselaw states in part that Section 13 of the Arizona Constitution “should be interpreted liberally so as to uphold the constitutionality of an act if there is any legal basis for its validity.”
A law review article analyzing single subject rules and the legislative process observed, “Judges tend to shy away from invalidating laws. In the words of an Arizona court, ‘[n]o task . . . is more grave than passing upon the constitutionality of legislation.’” It went on, “ it comes as no surprise that courts adopt — or at least pretend to adopt — a cautious stance in single subject disputes, interpreting the rule liberally and resolving all doubts in favor of the legislature.”
When asked about those bills Governor Doug Ducey signed, Ducey’s Communications Director CJ Karamargin told The Center Square that the governor’s office is “confident the legislation we signed is completely constitutional.” Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio denounced the lawsuit filed by the city of Phoenix. He told The Arizona Sun Times, “Phoenix politicians are desperate to load their newly created police review board with anti-cop activists and city-hall cronies while forcing children to mask up for the rest of their lives. It’s outrageous, and so is suing the state to stop a budget practice that has long legal standing. It’s a total waste of taxpayer money.”
Several school districts instituted mask mandates despite the state law banning them, prompting litigation. Numerous state legislators asked Ducey a few days ago to take action against the school districts in violation, and Ducey responded with a directive financially penalizing the districts. They will not receive any of the $163 million that the state got through the American Rescue Plan to boost per-pupil funding. Students in those districts will receive vouchers to attend schools elsewhere.
COVID-19 is not experiencing a big surge in Arizona like it is in some parts of the country. According to Worldometer, the spike is significantly smaller than the winter surge, and the increase in deaths is fairly small. On January 12, during the worst of the winter surge, there were 335 deaths. A few days ago on September 1, the most recent data from Worldometer shows 33 deaths, just 10 percent of the winter’s high death toll.
An article that came out in The Atlantic on September 2 authored by associate professor of epidemiology Dr. Vinay Prasad states that “No scientific consensus exists about the wisdom of mandatory-masking rules for schoolchildren.”
He cites a study in Spain which suggested that “masking kids in school does not provide a major benefit and might provide none at all.”
– – –
Rachel Alexander is a reporter at the Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Rachel on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Tucson City Hall” by Kevin Dooley. CC BY 2.0.