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Arizona’s Expanded Supreme Court

September 6, 2016 Hastings and Hastings

On Wednesday, May 18, 2016, Arizona Governor Dough Ducey signed into legislation House Bill 2537 which will expand Arizona’s Supreme court from five to seven justices. It is estimated that the expansion of the Arizona Supreme Court will cost the state $1 million. Gov. Ducey, who has long stood by a commitment to streamline government believes that House Bill 2537 will accomplish just that. In a letter explaining his decision, Gov. Ducey said, “Arizonans deserve swift justice from the judicial branch. Adding more voice will ensure that the court can increase efficiency, hear more cases and issue more opinions.

Opposition to the bill stated that the additional spending was unnecessary, and that expanding the Supreme Court stood in direct conflict with Gov. Ducey’s mission to streamline government. Regardless, HB 2537 was signed into effect and Arizona will soon be getting two new Supreme Court Judges.

11 attorneys have applied to fill the two vacant seats on Arizona’s freshly expanded Supreme Court. The applicants will first be screened by Commission on Appellate Court Appointments. Those who are approved by the Commission will receive an interview with Gov. Ducey. It will be something like a litigious Christmas Eve. To date, Gov. Ducey has made one appointment to the Arizona Supreme Court, that being independent Clint Bolick.

The Commission on Appellate Court Appointments is required by law to send three applicants for each vacancy on the Supreme Court. This means that Gov. Ducey could interview as few as three candidates. The Commission could opt to send the same list of three names for each of the vacancies. The nomination process assures that there is some political diversity in the nominations because of the stipulation that all nominees cannot be from the same political party. Only the future can reveal the efficiency of the newly expanded Supreme Court, but one thing is for certain, Gov. Ducey is about to face two of the biggest decisions of his term as Governor.