Arizona Judicial Selection Amendment, Proposition 115 (2012)

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Proposition 115
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:Article VI, Multiple sections
Referred by:Arizona State Legislature
Topic:Judicial reform
Status:On the ballot
The Arizona Judicial Selection Amendment, also known as Proposition 115, will be on the November 6, 2012 general election ballot in the state of Arizona as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. It was introduced during 2011 state legislative session, where its formal title was SCR 1001.[1][1]

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. [2]

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.[3]

Text of measure


The summary of the measure reads as follows:[4]

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[5]

Constitutional changes

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.[6]


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.[3]

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.[3]

Seven changes

According to reports, the measure would essentially make seven changes to the state judicial system if enacted:[7]

  • 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.


  • Former Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas has stated his support for the measure.[8]
  • 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."[9]

The following groups submitted letters of support to the Arizona Secretary of State's General Election Guide[10]:

  • Arizona Judges Association
  • Arizona Judicial Council
  • Center for Arizona Policy
  • Governor Jan Brewer
  • Arizona State Senate President Steve Pierce
  • Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives Andy M. Tobin
  • Making Merit Selection Stronger Chairman Eddie Farnsworth
  • The State Bar of Arizona.


  • 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 Counci
  • 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.[1]


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.[1]

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.[1]

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:

Event Date Developments
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.

See also

Suggest a link

External links