Brewer Smackdown

The Arizona Supreme Court has overruled Governor Jan Brewer’s attempt to impeach the head of the independent re-districting committee. I thought this was typical:

Acting Chief Justice Andrew Hurwitz tried to test the limits of the governor’s authority.

If a commissioner wore a purple dress the governor didn’t like, or if she disapproved of a certain haircut, could the governor remove the commissioner? he asked.

Yes, Hauser said. That’s because the constitutional amendment that created the redistricting commission gives the governor wide berth in judging whether there has been misconduct. It doesn’t provide a role for the court to substitute its judgment for the governor’s, she said.

A lot of laws are drawn up with the assumption that those executing the laws will have at least a wee bit of good faith and public spirit. In this case, Arizona was wrong: there’s no such thing in the modern Republican Party.

39 replies
  1. 1
    Comrade Javamanphil says:

    I, for one, welcome my new purple dress approving overlords.

  2. 2
    Nemesis says:

    “That bitch is cute. Fire her!”

  3. 3
    kerFuFFler says:

    Well, if being fair to democrats in Arizona isn’t official misconduct, I don’t know what is!

  4. 4
    Baud says:

    At the federal level, impeachment is a “political question” that the U.S. Supreme Court will not review. It looks like the Arizona Supreme Court didn’t accept Brewer’s argument that state impeachment should also be unreviewable.

  5. 5
    jibeaux says:

    So there’s a Commission that was created with the express purpose of removing partisanship from redistricting and creating a more independent process, and which sets criteria for removal of a commissioner by the executive of “substantial neglect of duty, gross misconduct in office or inability to discharge the duties of office” – their argument is basically unfettered executive discretion to eliminate commissioners for any reason at all? Who was chief counsel on that one, Dick Cheney?

  6. 6
  7. 7
    JCT says:

    My new governor, folks.

    So much FAIL, so little time.

  8. 8
    Litlebritdifrnt says:

    OT but Occupy London has found new digs, and abandoned UBS building. As usual The Guardian has a brilliant live blog going

  9. 9
    Schlemizel says:

    Az seems to have a long history of incompetent crooks in the Governors office. I think a lot of that stems from a fairly ignorant, disinterested, electorate. It seems to infect both parties.

  10. 10
    jon says:

    The GOP is like the detectives going after OJ Simpson: they want to frame the guilty. In this case, they want to game a system that’s already to their advantage. And that’s the Republicans in short: it’s not enough that they kick you when you’re down, they want their boots licked so they don’t stick to your neck as they go to step on the next person.

    Two safe Democratic districts, four safe Republican districts, and three competitive districts? That sounds like Arizona, unfortunately.

  11. 11
    MattF says:

    Should be obvious to any fair-minded person that ‘Good Government’ is what the Governor says it is. By, y’know, definition.

    Added: …and also vice versa, if necessary.

  12. 12
    r€nato says:

    @jibeaux: more or less, yes. Lisa Hauser also represented disgraced legislator Russell Pearce in his attempt to get the recall election against him thrown out.

    Ever since the GOP acquired a supermajority in the Legislature in 2010, they’ve been running Arizona with an iron fist. The redistricting commission’s proposed, draft districts were going to pit a couple of incumbent GOP congressmen against one another, so virtually overnight Brewer’s puppet masters suddenly discovered that the chairwoman had been acting improperly (‘gross misconduct’). I believe that during the hearing, they ended up rescinding one of their charges against Mathis, but still insisted that the court had no business even ruling on the matter.

  13. 13
    r€nato says:

    @Schlemizel: Janet Napolitano was adequate as our governor (and looks positively brilliant compared to Gov. Skeletor), but really the last good governor we had was Bruce Babbitt, who left office over 30 years ago. Since then we’ve had a parade of grifters like J. Fife Symington III and fools like the infamous Evan Mecham and Jane Hull, who signed into law a sham, poorly-written ‘alt-fuel vehicles’ bill which cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

  14. 14
    r€nato says:

    oh, and ever since voters approved the Clean Elections ballot initiative about 10 years ago, the state GOP has worked very hard to destroy publicly-financed elections. I believe they have brought no fewer than 12 cases against it. The far-right US Supreme Court handed them a partial victory recently, declaring unconstitutional the provision of the law which matched dollar-for-dollar spending by privately-financed candidates that exceeded the amount of money granted to a publicly-financed candidate.

    Clean Elections is funded partly by surcharges on fines imposed for civil and criminal violations. The state GOP has chosen to characterize this as, ‘OMG YOUR TAX MONEY IS BEING HANDED OUT TO POLITICIANS!’

  15. 15
    MattF says:

    @r€nato: I’d forgotten about Mecham. Something in the water, or the lack thereof, I suppose.

  16. 16
    rikryah says:

    I’m shocked at the decision…because it was so, RIGHT

  17. 17
    Cacti says:

    GED Jan hiked her dress and took a dump on the State Constitution because the Redistricting Commission didn’t create a permanent safe seat for little Ben “tater tot” Quayle.

    Dan Quayle purchased his boy’s legacy seat fair and square, and no one was going to deny his patrician right to it if Jan had her way.

  18. 18
    r€nato says:

    @MattF: many of us have gratefully forgotten Mecham. He was a man who had the misfortune of coming along too soon. In today’s GOP he would have been a viable, credible candidate. 25 years ago, he was widely regarded as a crank, Arizona’s own Harold Stassen (in that Mecham ran for governor every four years and regularly lost to the GOP establishment candidate in the primary).

    Mecham only got into the office due to a moderate candidate, Bill Schulz, who lost the Democratic primary and declared himself as an independent candidate in the general election. Mecham only got 40% of the vote but that plurality was enough to get him elected while Schulz and Carolyn Warner split the rest of the vote.

    An interesting bit of trivia: after the trauma of Mecham’s abbreviated tenure as governor and the subsequent recall and impeachment against him, the Legislature passed a law designed to avoid this mistake from ever happening again: in the event no candidate in a gubernatorial election obtained 50% plus 1 vote, a runoff election with the top two vote-getters would be held.

    In the very next election, neither J. Fife Symington III nor Terry Goddard obtained 50% + 1 due to a very minor independent candidate who garnered something like 1% of the vote. A pointless runoff election was held which merely reconfirmed the results of the general election (Symington won). The law was repealed in the next legislative session.

  19. 19
    fuzed says:

    damnd activist judges.
    i guess they’ll be on the next impeachment list.

  20. 20
    r€nato says:

    @fuzed: this ain’t over yet, and I would not be surprised if the GOP goes on a jihad against these ‘liberal activist judges’. They may also decide to take a little more time to trump up something more credible against Mathis.

  21. 21
    KCinDC says:

    There’s a lot in our political system (and in our culture in general) that depends on the assumption that people aren’t completely shameless and willing to violate all accepted standards of conduct as long as they’re not codified in law. Unfortunately, today’s Republican Party has discovered you can go far once you’ve overcome your natural reluctance to violate those norms, as detailed in Kung Fu Monkey’s classic work on “the shame exploit”.

  22. 22
    Steve says:

    This is an outrageously good decision for the rule of law.

    It’s not 100% clear whether the decision was unanimous, but it appears 3 of the 5 Supreme Court Justices are Republican appointees.

  23. 23
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    This. I am afraid this.

    Vile creatures like Brewer are without the slightest shame or remorse for their actions.

  24. 24
    burnspbesq says:

    @ mistermix:

    The opinion Isn’t posted on the Arizona Supreme Court’s website as of three minutes ago, so it’s impossible to assess the Court’s reasoning.

    However, I think you’ve fundamentally misunderstood the language from the Daily Star article that you blockquoted, in a way that vastly overstates its importance.

    That appears to be a hypothetical question asked during oral argument. As such, it’s entirely unremarkable. That’s how appellate judges work. Isolating and highlighting one question among many, and not properly explaining the context, runs a high risk of misinforming the reader. It is first and foremost the Star reporter’s error, but there was no reason for you to repeat it.

  25. 25
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    The opinion Isn’t posted on the Arizona Supreme Court’s website as of three minutes ago, so it’s impossible to assess the Court’s reasoning.

    But, to quote a well known scriptwriter for the shitty grade Z movie star, it would be irresponsible not to speculate.

  26. 26
    IrishGirl says:

    A lot of laws are drawn up with the assumption that those executing the laws will have at least a wee bit of good faith and public spirit.

    My ex-husband, glibertarian extraordinaire, made the argument that since the voters made the law and it was poorly written they deserved Gov. Brewer stepping over the line. That’s like saying the people wrote a law that says that assault is defined as “the serious and or significant physical harm to another person”. Then telling a victim of assault they they deserved to be beaten because their actual injuries might not meet the legal standard of being serious or significant. I don’t know what the specific term that applies here is but it seems like the argument is something like ex post facto scapegoating….

  27. 27
    Steve says:

    @burnspbesq: I don’t get why you think there was an error in either this post or the original article. The fact that the governor’s office claims to have unfettered authority to remove commissioners is important. Frankly, it sounds like counsel gave a terrible answer, both politically and strategically.

  28. 28

    […] to be kept away from,” he said. These people really are lawless sociopaths.  Full stop. (via) { 0 comments } var addthis_config = {"data_track_clickback":true}; Metavirus […]

  29. 29
    r€nato says:

    @IrishGirl: congratulations on having the sense to make him an ex-husband. Glibertarians and sociopaths share a remarkable number of traits in common.

    The fact is, the law *was* written carefully. It was Brewer’s puppet masters who chose to construe its meaning as, ‘dereliction of duty and gross misconduct mean that all we have to do is say the magic words and that makes it so.

    @Steve: she *did* give a terrible answer. But it had the virtue of being brutally honest.

  30. 30
    calliope jane says:

    If nothing else, our state Supreme Court is very good ( however much brewer/ repubs want to destroy that (and they way we appt judges), too.

    But I Can’t believe that Zlaket represented the commissioner (Mathis). He’s amazing– former state supreme court justice himself, expert on ethics. I thought he was retired (from appellate work). Such an impressive get for her–he’s great, he’s so good with ethics (he teaches – and, I believe, helped write the thical code for lawyers in AZ). Amazing.

  31. 31
    r€nato says:

    the Republicans have a monopoly on our state government. They occupy ALL of the major statewide offices and have a veto-proof, supermajority in both houses of the Legislature – the Democrats cannot stop any legislation at all. In other words, the Legislature effectively runs the state. Even if Gov. Skeletor aroused from her drunken stupor and managed to find her veto stamp, the Republicans could override with their 2/3 majority.

    now they want to ensure a permanent GOP supermajority in the Legislature and an overwhelming majority in our Congressional delegation as well.

    The state Democratic party really needs to step up their fucking game, if they don’t want to be rendered a permanent joke. This state is nowhere near as right-wing as our elected representatives make us appear; but if the other side brings a pocketknife to a gunfight, this is what we get.

  32. 32
    Judas Escargot says:


    The GOP is like the detectives going after OJ Simpson: they want to frame the guilty. In this case, they want to game a system that’s already to their advantage.


    All of the realistic scenarios for resolving the 2000 election favored Bush. Let the FL House decide? GOP wins. Throw it to the US House? GOP wins. Honor Gore’s request for a recount only in certain counties? GOP still would have won.

    They already had the game won, and they still had to fecking steal it.

  33. 33
    KG says:

    @Steve: sometimes, especially when put on the spot by an appellate judge, you can only give a terrible answer. I actually saw opposing counsel do that in a case… the issue was what it means to receive disclosures and the judge asked “if you’re at a restaurant and the waiter brings you food and before you have a chance to take a bite, he takes it away, did you receive the food?” and opposing counsel, bless her heart, said “I would say yes.” You get so caught up in arguing your point that you forget logic and plain meaning sometimes.

  34. 34
    piratedan says:

    @r€nato: well I will say that Cherny seems to be a huge improvement over the last few Dem State leaders as far as getting himself on paper and in front of the cameras, the last few guys, you wouldn’t have known that they even existed. Also, the grass roots locally are starting to sprout as this continued idiocracy spews out their dreck, state mottos and handguns aren’t gonna cut it when the other shoes start to drop. You know the feds are gonna get Arpaio, when that happens, the Maricopa GOP s gonna crash and burn as Sheriff Joe’s tentacles were everywhere, the politics, the courts and you can betcha the private prison scams. That’s gonna cost more than a few careers when it comes to light of day. Plus there are idiots out there already writing their own obituaries, like Antenori (who is priming himself for a run at Giffords)and Melvin (nuclear waste disposal is our friend and where the jobs are!) are wearing out their welcome in the moderately aligned Pima County fringes.

    Who knows when the time will be right to revisit 31 bullet clips for semi-automatic pistols…..

  35. 35
    Steve says:

    @KG: Having been there, I agree, but this particular question is so basic to the case I’m surprised they didn’t have a better answer prepared. It’s like the Solicitor General defending the ACA in the Supreme Court and not having a canned answer ready for a question about the broccoli mandate.

  36. 36
    suzanne says:


    Az seems to have a long history of incompetent crooks in the Governors office. I think a lot of that stems from a fairly ignorant, disinterested, electorate. It seems to infect both parties.

    I’m not sure. I certainly don’t think Arizonans are less politically engaged than, say, Utahns.
    I think there has been an erosion in the concept of the community, and that there’s a huge strain of individualism-at-all-costs that produces this sort of behavior. There’s also the tendency to swing party control back and forth quite quickly.

    Though I will say that Fife Symington is a much better pastry chef than a governor.

  37. 37
    suzanne says:

    An AZ BJ meetup would be so fun. Maybe we could meet in front of Russell Pearce’s house and piss on his lawn.

  38. 38
    TruthOrScare says:

    Mostly a lurker, but I’d be onboard for an AZ meetup. Would prefer not to go anywhere near the toxic Pearce environs, though.

    Heads up: the AZ GOP muscled a measure through this year that will be on the ballot in 2012, to make pretty major changes to selection of judges if approved by voters. Gives the governor (gulp!) much more discretion in appointing members of the merit selection commissions that nominate judges than Gov now has.

    Pres. Obama just nominated Andrew Hurwitz (justice quoted above) to Ninth Circuit. I imagine his chances of confirmation just fell through the floor. The AZ congressional delegation will be looking for scalps after yesterday’s decision. AZ GOP is also likely to make a full-out effort to have any justices unlucky enough to be on the 2012 retention election ballot voted out of office.

  39. 39
    r€nato says:

    @TruthOrScare: like I said above… this is far from over. They are determined to make this a one-party state. They know that it will never get better than this as far as their monopoly on power.

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