Vote ‘no’ on Prop. 115 - San Pedro Valley News-Sun: Letters To Editor

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Vote ‘no’ on Prop. 115

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Posted: Wednesday, October 10, 2012 12:00 am

A Constitutional Amendment can be passed by a majority of voters, but can only be repealed by a three-quarters vote of all registered voters, not just three-quarters of those who actually do vote. On the 2012 ballot you will find that out of nine propositions there are eight that are Constitutional Amendments (all 100 propositions)!

Constitutional Amendment Propositions 114 through 120 have all been referred to the ballot by the State Legislature. Proposition 121 is a Constitutional Amendment brought to the ballot by citizen initiative. Only Proposition 204 is not a Constitutional Amendment. It is a statute change brought to the ballot by citizen initiative, and can be repealed by a majority vote.

Proposition 115 is an extremely dangerous piece of proposed legislation. It would undo the merit selection system for judicial appointments to the Arizona Supreme Court, the Appellate Courts and Trial Courts in counties with populations of at least 250,000. This includes Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties. Judges in other counties are elected to a four-year term. This 1974 voter approved system intended to remove politics as much as possible from the judicial branch of government, and has been used as a model in many other states across America. Currently, the system provides for non-political special screening commissions (JNCs) that conduct public hearings, manage extensive professional and user surveys and background checks, and then send a list of three vetted nominees to the governor, who appoints from that list. It allows the governor to choose 10 non-lawyer appointments to these screening commissions, and the State Bar Association has five lawyer appointments to these screening commissions.

Proposition 115 would alter the number of appointments to these screening commissions, giving the governor 14 of the 15 appointments, leaving the State Bar Association with only one appointment! Proposition 115 would also give the legislature the freedom to conduct their own additional screenings for retention if they chose to do so, further taking away from the State Bar Associations’ input.

The importance of a fair and independent judiciary cannot be overstated. The current system has taken politics out of the merit system, and Proposition 115 is a brazen attempt by other branches of our Arizona government to gain control over the judicial branch. It significantly politicizes the judicial selection process by greatly expanding the governor’s power.

Please be aware of all consequences of each 100 Propositions before you vote. Remember that it cannot be repealed without a three-quarters vote of all registered voters. Vote no on Proposition 115!

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