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Arizona Supreme Court declines to hear challenge to appellate judge election system

The Arizona Supreme Court has refused to fast track a case seeking to change the way Arizonans vote to retain judges on the Arizona Court of Appeals.

The Goldwater Institute asked the Supreme Court to immediately take up its case seeking to put all appeals court judges up for retention on a statewide ballot. The current system limits who can vote for each judge based on the judge’s county of residence. 

Because appellate court decisions can have a statewide impact, the institute argued that all voters should be able to vote on all appeals court judges

The justices denied the request but will allow Goldwater to seek a transfer to the Supreme Court at a later date after first bringing the case before a Superior Court and Appeals Court.  

Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs vetoed a bill sponsored by Arizona House Speaker Ben Toma, R-Peoria, that would have allowed all voters to decide whether to retain all appellate judges.

Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes opposed Goldwater’s attempts to change the system via the courts. In a filing with the Supreme Court, Mayes argued the lawsuit was an attempt to circumvent the legislative process. 

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Wayne Schutsky is a broadcast field correspondent covering Arizona politics on KJZZ. He has over a decade of experience as a journalist reporting on local communities in Arizona and the state Capitol.