Commentary: Arizona Court Packing Plan Part of National Trend

Elected politicians’ plan to expand the Arizona Supreme Court is “part of a national trend to control or eviscerate the judicial branch,” Linda Valdez writes in a stinging Arizona Republic commentary.

Citing recent New York Times (click here for Gavel Grab) and Associated Press (click here) articles about political battles to take over control of state courts, Valdez says about efforts in other states and what she calls a court packing plan in Arizona, “These are unseemly efforts to take over a branch of the government that acts as a check on the power of the other two branches.”

Valdez quotes former Arizona Chief Justice Stanley Feldman as saying that it is “obvious this [Arizona legislation] is an attempt by the administration and the Legislature to expand the court for political reasons.” Judges ought to rise up in opposition, she says.

An alternate view is taken in a separate Arizona Republic essay by Robert Robb, titled, “Don’t hyperventilate over Arizona Supreme Court expansion.” Robb says there is no specific agenda from conservatives dictating what the court should do. He also says that the politics of the court expansion plan are “subdued” by the role of a judicial screening commission that vets judicial candidates for the governor’s appointment under Arizona’s merit-based selection system.