University of Denver

Nominating Commission Members Challenge Arizona Law Increasing Number of Nominees

Former Manager, Quality Judges Initiative

As IAALS Online covered back in April, the Arizona legislature passed and the governor signed a bill directing the state's judicial nominating commissions to submit the names of at least five finalists for each judicial vacancy. Last week, four members of the appellate judicial nominating commission filed a petition with the state supreme court to declare the new law unconstitutional. The law is in apparent conflict with a constitutional provision calling for the commission to submit at least three names, but authors of the legislation point to an "escape clause" that allows the commission to submit fewer than five names by a two-thirds vote. The law may also be in conflict with the wishes of voters, who last November rejected a proposed constitutional amendment that would have increased the required number of nominees to eight, among other changes. Proponents of the law assert that it will provide the governor with more options among qualified candidates, but opponents point out that few candidates apply for such positions and some who do are unqualified.