Despite objections by Chief Justice Scott Bales, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey used the power of his office to unnecessarily expand the state Supreme Court from five to seven justices in May 2016. The high court’s director of government affairs testified against expansion, saying, “We just do not believe it’s needed. The court is current in its cases. There’s nothing that we are seeing that’s going to lead to a greatly increased caseload.”
One of the newly robed justices — Clint Bolick — former chief litigator at the libertarian Goldwater Institute and open borders advocate who co-authored a book on the topic with Jeb Bush, is a friend of Ducey’s. So close are the two men, they routinely text one another.
People holding top jobs erroneously think they are above scrutiny. The Phoenix New Times, through a Freedom of Information Act request was able to secure the two men’s electronic correspondence.
The justice lobbied the governor providing his opinion regarding the best choice for the vacancy on Arizona’s highest court. Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery was among the 11 applicants for the post which the governor will fill from a vetted and pared down list of applicants sent to him by the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments. (Two of the original 13 appear to have withdrawn their applications.)
The commission met Friday and forwarded a list of five names to Ducey. Montgomery, who would have made an excellent justice, was not among them.
Three judges from the Arizona Court of Appeals Division One, James Beene, (Republican); Kent Cattani, (Republican); and Maria Elena Cruz, (unregistered prior to September 24, 2002 when she became a Democrat); along with Pima County Superior Court Judge Richard Gordon, (Republican); and private practice attorney Andrew Jacobs, (Democrat); made the cut. On their applications, two of the applicants state they are of mixed ethnicity.
Predictably, the local newspaper’s take is exemplified by this front page headline: “Arizona’s Supreme Court short on diversity — Disparity under scrutiny with justice’s retirement.”
Diversity is never about ideas, only ethnicity. We’ve had female justices for years with several serving as chief justice, so it’s not even about plumbing. This 2012 post provides the stellar history of Arizona’s female justices. The first was Lorna Lockwood — born in 1903 in the Arizona territory. Lockwood is notable for being the first woman in the nation to become Chief Justice of a state Supreme Court. President Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor as the first woman on U.S. Supreme Court in 1981.
Justice John Pelander’s retirement was effective March 1, 2019.