Arizona Judicial Selection Amendment, Proposition 115 (2012)
|Constitution:||Article VI, Multiple sections|
|Referred by:||Arizona State Legislature|
|Status:||On the ballot|
The measure would modify of the Appellate and Trial Court Commissions. If it passes, specifically the measure would increase the terms of judges from six to eight years and the retirement age from 70 to 75.
In addition to these changes, the State Bar of Arizona will be allowed to appoint only one of five attorneys to a judicial nominating commission. Currently, the governor appoints five attorneys that are vetted by the bar association. 
Also, the measure would increase the governor's options when picking finalists for the state supreme court, Court of Appeals and the superior courts of Pima and Maricopa County. Currently, special screening panels review potential judges for those courts, where the governor can pick at least three finalists. If enacted, this measure would increase that from 3 to 8.
Text of measure
The summary of the measure reads as follows:
|“||A Concurrent Resolution proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Arizona; Amending Article VI, Sections 4, 12, 20, 36, 37, 39, 41 and 42, Constitution of Arizona, relating to the Judicial Department||”|
If sent to the ballot and approved by voters, the measure would amend Article VI, sections 4, 12, 20, 36, 37, 39, 41 and 42 of the Arizona Constitution.
In 1974, Arizona voters approved a measure that mandated that special screening panels review potential judges for the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals and the superior courts of Pima and Maricopa County. The governor is required to pick at least three candidates. The 2012 measure would increase that to 8.
Until 1974, all judges in the state were elected. However, the measure approved in 1974 changed the Arizona Constitution to mandate that the governor select from a list of finalists by that special commission. The selected judges then run for re-election every four years. On the ballot, voters decide whether or not to keep those judges. If voters decide not to keep a judge, the aforementioned selection process starts again.
According to reports, the measure would essentially make seven changes to the state judicial system if enacted:
- Lengthen terms for judges
- Raise retirement age for judges
- Give more power to the state governor to select commissioners who nominate judges
- Increase nomination numbers for open seats in the state
- Allow candidates in the same group for consideration to fill more than one vacancy
- Mandate that court orders be posted on the internet and made public
- Operate a legislative judicial review before election takes place.
- The following groups submitted letters of support to the Arizona Secretary of State's General Election Guide:
Arizona Judges Association, Arizona Judicial Council, Center for Arizona Policy, Governor Jan Brewer, Arizona State Senate President Steve Pierce, Skpeaker of the Arizona House of Representatives Andy M. Tobin, Making Merit Selection Stronger Chairman Eddie Farnsworth and the State Bar of Arizona. Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas has stated his support for the measure.
- State Senator Steve Smith stated, "It is designed to make the judicial nomination process turn on the individual merit of the candidates and will also give voters more information about the judges that are on the ballot."
According to the No on Prop 115 campaign, the following organizations filed arguments in opposition to the measure: League of Women Voters of Arizona, Phoenix Law Enforcement Association, Pima County Interfaith Council, Save the Family Foundation, 5 former Justices of the Arizona Supreme Court, 19 Past Presidents of the State Bar of Arizona Arizona Trial Lawyers Association, Arizona Association of Defense Counsel, Maricopa County Bar Association, Arizona Democratic Party, Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest, Arizona Advocacy Network, Los Abrogados, Tucson Community Development/Design Center, Inc.
Path to the ballot
A majority vote is required in the Arizona State Legislature to send a constitutional amendment to the ballot. Arizona is one of ten states that allow a referred amendment to go on the ballot after a majority vote in one session of the state's legislature.
The measure was first read to the Arizona State Senate on January 10, 2011, and was passed to the Senate Rules Committee that same day. On March 8, 2011, the Rules Committee voted 4 to 2 in favor of the proposal, allowing the full chamber to review the bill. Then on March 21, 2011, a final vote took place in the chamber, where the amendment was approved with a vote of 21 to 5, sending it to the Arizona House of Representatives.
House of Representatives
After being transmitted to the House, the amendment was first read to the chamber on March 23, 2011, where it was then assigned to the House Education, Judiciary and Rules Committees the same day. It was approved by all three committees, with the Education Committee approving it on March 23, 2011. Then, on March 24, 2011, the Judicial Committee voted 6 to 3 to pass it along. Finally, the Rules Committee, on April 4, 2011, approved the proposal with a 7 to 0 vote. It was then placed in front of the House for ballot consideration.
The House voted in favor of placing the proposal on the November 6, 2012 general election ballot on April 14, 2011, with a vote of 48 to 8, transmitting it to the Arizona Secretary of State on April 19, 2011 to be placed on the ballot.
The following is a timeline of events surrounding the measure:
|First Reading||Jan. 10, 2011||Read for the first time in Senate|
|Vote||Mar. 8, 2011||Senate Rules Committee voted 4 to 2 in favor of measure.|
|Vote||Mar. 28, 2011||Senate voted in favor with 20 to 5 tally.|
|First Reading||Mar. 23, 2011||Read to House, assigned to committee; approved by House Education Committee|
|Vote||Mar. 24, 2011||House Judicial Committee voted 6 to 3 to pass the measure.|
|Vote||Apr. 4, 2011||House Rules committee voted 7 to 0 in favor of measure.|
|Final Vote||Apr. 14, 2011||House voted in favor of proposal for 2012 ballot placement with a vote of 48 to 8.|
|Transmitted||Apr. 19, 2011||Transmitted to the Arizona Secretary of State to be placed on the ballot.|
- Arizona 2012 ballot measures
- Arizona Legislature
- 2012 ballot measures
- List of Arizona ballot measures
- Arizona voters will vote on changes to judicial selection
- Office of the Secretary of State - 2012 Ballot Measure / Proposition Information
- Arizona Secretary of State voter guide
- Arizona Legislature, "SCR1001, Retrieved April 25, 2011
- Cronkite News, "Voters to decide future of merit system for selecting judges," April 28, 2011
- Arizona Daily Sun, "Proposition could change how judges are chosen", June 6, 2012
- Arizona Secretary of State, "Ballot Measures", September 17, 2012
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Arizona Legislature, "SCR 1001", Retrieved May 13, 2011
- Journal Arizona, "Judicial changes in Proposition 115 explained", October 16, 2012
- AZ Secretary of State General Election Guide, retrieved Oct. 8, 2012
- Tuscon Citizen, "Andrew Thomas backs judicial-selection ballot measure", May 31, 2012
- In Maricopa, "Steve Smith: Ballot proposition recommendations", October 15, 2012