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Stanwitz v. Reagan

Supreme Court of Arizona

November 21, 2018

Joshua Stanwitz, an individual; Andrew Clark, an individual; Scot Mussi, an individual; and Roy Miller, an individual, Petitioners/Appellees/Cross-Appellants,
v.
Michele Reagan, in her capacity as the Secretary of State, Respondent/Appellee, and Outlaw Dirty Money, a political committee, Real Party in Interest/Appellant/Cross-Appellee. Terry Goddard, a citizen and qualified elector of the State of Arizona; Paul Johnson, a citizen and qualified elector of the State of Arizona; and Grant Woods, a citizen and qualified elector of the State of Arizona; and Outlaw Dirty Money, a political committee, Petitioners/Appellants,
v.
Michele Reagan, in her official capacity as the Secretary of State, Respondent/Appellee, and J.D. Mesnard, in his official capacity As Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives; and Steve Yarbrough, in his official capacity as President of the Arizona Senate, Intervenors/Appellees.

          Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County The Honorable Teresa A. Sanders, Judge Nos. CV2018-009789, CV2018-010420

          Kory Langhofer, Thomas Basile, Stewart Salwin, Statecraft PLLC, Phoenix, Attorneys for Joshua Stanwitz, Andrew Clark, Scot Mussi, Roy Miller, J. D. Mesnard, and Steve Yarbrough

          Kimberly A. Demarchi, Joshua D. Bendor, Emma Cone-Roddy, Osborn Maledon, P. A., Phoenix, Attorneys for Terry Goddard, Paul Johnson, Grant Woods, and Outlaw Dirty Money

          Mark Brnovich, Arizona Attorney General, Kara M. Karlson, Joseph E. La Rue, Assistant Attorneys General, Phoenix, Attorneys for Michele Reagan

          Mark Brnovich, Arizona Attorney General, Dominic E. Draye, Solicitor General, Phoenix, Attorneys for Amicus Curiae State of Arizona

          Israel G. Torres, James E. Barton, II, Saman J. Golestan, Torres Law Group, PLLC, Tempe, Attorneys for Amicus Curiae Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona

          JUSTICE LOPEZ authored the opinion of the Court, in which CHIEF JUSTICE BALES, VICE CHIEF JUSTICE BRUTINEL, and JUSTICES PELANDER, TIMMER, BOLICK, and GOULD joined.

          OPINION

          LOPEZ, JUSTICE

         ¶1 We explain today the reasons for our prior decision order disqualifying the "Stop Political Dirty Money Amendment" from the November 2018 general election ballot. We honor the constitutional origins of our citizens' right to amend the Arizona Constitution and to enact legislation through the initiative process, and we are reluctant to impede such civic efforts. However, we must also enforce valid statutory requirements that permissibly regulate the initiative process. We hold that A.R.S. § 19-118(C) is constitutional both facially and as applied here, because its requirement that registered petition circulators subpoenaed in an election challenge appear for trial "does not unreasonably hinder or restrict" the initiative process and it "reasonably supplements the constitutional purpose" by fostering the integrity of the process. Direct Sellers Ass'n v. McBrayer, 109 Ariz. 3, 5 (1972).

         I.

         ¶2 The right to initiate constitutional amendments and propose statutes was retained by the people when delegating legislative authority to the Arizona legislature. Ariz. Const. art. 4, pt. 1, § 1(1)-(2). To exercise this right, a sufficient number of qualified electors must sign verified petitions in support of the proposed measure and submit them as prescribed by law. See A.R.S. tit. 19 ch. 1 (setting forth the specific process by which such petitions are to be submitted and processed). Constitutional initiatives require signatures from 15% of all qualified electors. Ariz. Const. art. 4, pt. 1, § 1(2). For a statewide initiative, the Arizona Secretary of State (the "Secretary") is required to review the submitted petitions, remove petition sheets and individual signatures on petition sheets that fail to comply with statutory requirements, and count the remaining signatures on the petition sheets. A.R.S. § 19-121.01(A). If, after satisfying other Title 19 requirements not contested here, the Secretary determines that the initiative is supported by the requisite number of valid signatures, the measure is placed on the ballot. A.R.S. §§ 19-121.04(B), -125.

         ¶3 On July 5, 2018, the Outlaw Dirty Money political committee (the "Committee") filed signature petitions with the Secretary to qualify initiative C-03-2018, otherwise known as the "Stop Political Dirty Money Amendment" (the "Initiative"), for the November 2018 ballot. The Initiative's purpose is to amend the Arizona Constitution to ensure public knowledge of the original source of campaign contributions. The Committee was required to gather 225, 963 valid signatures to qualify the Initiative for the ballot. The Committee's signature count exceeded the minimum required.

         ¶4 On July 19, the tenth business day after the Committee filed its petitions, the Stanwitz Petitioners ("Petitioners") filed a complaint pursuant to § 19-118(D) challenging the validity of certain petitions based on various objections to petition circulators, including that their registrations were defective, they were ineligible to circulate petitions, and they were improperly paid based upon the number of signatures gathered.

         ¶5 On August 2, the Secretary completed her preliminary review of the petitions pursuant to § 19-121.01, and determined that 263, 000 signatures remained to be verified pursuant to additional statutory procedures. On August 7, the Committee filed a complaint pursuant to A.R.S. § 19-122(A) claiming the Secretary erroneously removed certain petition sheets and signatures during her review. The trial court consolidated the actions.

         ¶6 On August 9, prior to trial, Petitioners notified the Committee's counsel and the trial court that they intended to subpoena approximately twenty of the Committee's petition circulators to testify concerning their statutory qualifications to gather signatures. Counsel for the Committee requested additional time to prepare for the evidentiary hearing in light of the subpoenaed witnesses, which the court granted. The next day, Petitioners issued subpoenas to fifteen ...


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