Arizona’s Republican legislative leaders are wading into another legal fight.
Earlier this week, Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma filed an amicus brief at the U.S. Supreme Court in City of Grants Pass v. Gloria Johnson and John Logan. According to the legislators, the case involves “three homeless individuals in Grants Pass (who) filed this lawsuit to try to stop local and state governments from combating the public safety threats, the public health dangers, and the inhumane conditions associated with these homeless encampments.”
The city has received unfavorable opinions from the federal courts at both the district and appeals (Ninth Circuit) levels, leading to the appeal to the nation’s high court.
In their brief, Petersen and Toma assert that “the Legislature also has a pressing interest in homelessness because it confronts the realities of America’s homelessness crisis every day, including only a few blocks from the state capitol complex. Phoenix, Arizona, is home to one of the nation’s largest homeless encampments, commonly known as ‘The Zone.’ With hundreds of homeless residents, The Zone is a place of intense poverty, frequent crime (including multiple homicides), social instability, and poor living standards.”
The lawmakers opined that “the Ninth Circuit decided it was better at making policy than elected state legislatures and city councils.” They argued that the opinion from the Ninth Circuit “injects the federal courts into a policymaking area reserved for state and local lawmakers, entrenches a plainly incorrect and deeply damaging construction of the Eighth Amendment, and improperly interferes with state and local policymaking on the critically important issue of homelessness.”
President Petersen issued a statement in conjunction with his announcement, saying, “We’re talking about a humanitarian crisis that continues to spiral out of control in our state, thanks to bad court rulings, judicial overreach, and a litany of vetoes by the Governor. Lives and livelihoods are lost every single day that we continue to allow homeless encampments to grow in our communities. We must have clarity from the U.S. Supreme Court in order to holistically address the systemic issues contributing to homelessness, as well as the dire public safety and public health consequences created by allowing these encampments to remain. Once again, the Attorney General is absent, but the Speaker and I are committed to engaging for the betterment of Arizona.”
Senator John Kavanagh added, “Many of the street homeless population are seriously mentally ill, drug addicted or both. It is unconscionable that these vulnerable people are being allowed to live in squalid circumstances on the street where they may abuse drugs and become crime victims. This situation is a result of federal court rulings that some say prohibit the police from enforcing street camping bans even when shelter can be provided to the homeless person. It is imperative that the Supreme Court clarify lower court rulings, so that if homeless persons are offered shelter and refuse, they can be removed from the street by the police.”
One of Arizona’s newest legislators also weighed in on the issue and filing of the brief. Senator Shawnna Bolick said, “Homelessness is one of the top issues impacting Legislative District 2, putting law enforcement and private property owners into the direct fray due to the lack of leadership at Phoenix City Hall. My constituents want safe neighborhoods, not ones littered with used needles and drug paraphernalia often left overnight for their kids to encounter on the way to the bus stop to get to school. There are quite a few civil society groups stepping up, but it’s not enough. I hope the USSC does the right thing. Government exists for public safety, and Arizona’s Governor along with the Phoenix Mayor are failing their citizens.”
The General Counsel for the Arizona House Republicans, Linley Wilson, pointed to a recent post from California Governor Gavin Newsom about the issue of federal courts inserting caselaw into “local efforts to clear street encampments,” stating, “This humanitarian crisis is not a partisan issue. The 9th Circuit’s opinions harm the homeless and the Legislature’s ability to craft effective policies.”
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.
Second Amendment advocates recently had something to cheer thanks to a judicial decision from a federal appeals court.
Earlier this month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued an opinion against the Center for Biological Diversity in a case that featured a legal question over lead ammunition. The United States Forest Service and the National Rifle Association of America were defendants in the matter.
The case has tarried in the judicial system since 2012, bouncing back and forth from the district and appeals court levels. The plaintiffs filed the legal pleadings over their contention that California condors were ingesting and perishing from lead ammunition left behind by hunters in the Kaibab National Forest.
“This NRA victory is a significant setback for gun control and anti-hunting advocates who see ammo bans as a pivotal leap in their agenda,” said Michael Jean, the Director of the Office of Litigation Counsel with the Institute for Legislative Action.
According to the summary of the decision from the Ninth Circuit, “The panel affirmed the district court’s dismissal for failure to state a claim of an action brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and others alleging that the United States Forest Service was liable as a contributor under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) by failing to regulate the use of lead ammunition by hunters in the Kaibab National Forest in Arizona.” The opinion added, “Although the Forest Service has broad authority to regulate hunting and fishing activities, it rarely exercises its authority to preempt state laws related to hunting and fishing; hunting activities are primarily regulated by the State of Arizona.”
U.S. District Judge Stephen M. McNamee, in his July 2013 ruling, highlighted that even if the plaintiffs received the opinion they were seeking, the California condor might very well still be at risk due to its migration habits. He wrote, “The Court also notes that the behavior and feeding habits of the California condor and other avian species make it unlikely that even if Defendant were to ban lead from being discarded within the KNF, the condor would no longer suffer from the lead poisoning that causes Plaintiffs’ alleged aesthetic injury. The California condor is known for long distance travel. Their longer trips consist of arching loops that reach from eastern Nevada, through southwestern Arizona, to the New Mexico border. They are also known to fly into Utah in pursuit of carrion. The condors could easily fly and subsequently feed outside the borders of the KNF and therefore outside of the area managed by Defendant. Plaintiffs give no indication that any of these other states ban the use of lead ammunition. Because of the extensive range of the California condor, it is likely that those birds that inhabit KNF will travel to those areas in search of carrion and ingest lead ammunition in the same manner as lead ingested within KNF borders.”
In an exclusive interview with AZ Free News, Arizona Representative Austin Smith shared his thoughts on the Court’s opinion, saying, “The recent 9th Circuit decision is an important victory for hunters, sportsman, and shooting enthusiasts across Arizona. I’m pleased to see this attempt to regulate ammunition by the radical gun control and anti-hunting lobby failed. As a 5th generation Arizona hunter and angler, this will serve as great precedence in preserving our Second Amendment and hunting heritage on the Kaibab.”
Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.
PHOENIX, AZ – The Arizona Attorney General Office is asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to grant an emergency injunction pending appeal, requiring federal agencies to return to “normal removal operations” and follow existing federal immigration law and resume deportations.
Arizona and Montana are suing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and federal officials over the February 18, 2021 Interim Guidance that halts nearly all deportations and ICE arrests. After the Interim Guidance was issued, deportations outside of the “priority categories” dropped by 98 percent in Arizona (only 7 out of 325 “other priority” cases were deported). Additionally, immigration-related arrests have dramatically decreased. ICE officers average just one interior arrest every 2.5 months.
The Arizona Attorney General Office claims that the Interim Guidance is in direct violation of federal law for removals of aliens with final orders of removal. 8 U.S.C. § 1231(a)(1)(A), requires that ICE “shall” remove an alien, who has received a final deportation order, from the United States within 90 days unless another exception in § 1231 applies. Late last month, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in a separate case (Johnson v. Guzman Chavez) that “shall” means “must,” i.e. it is mandatory language.
Monday’s filing comes as June numbers show the border crisis is only getting worse. More than 188,000 individuals were encountered along the southwest border in June 2021. DHS has not publicly released removal numbers for several weeks.
Arizona has joined a coalition of 22 states before the Ninth Circuit defending the Second Amendment rights of American citizens. The states are asking the court to declare California’s law limiting magazine capacities as unconstitutional.
Arizona, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming are filing a legal brief at the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Duncan v. Rodriquez – a challenge of California’s unconstitutional ban on extremely common magazines for firearms.
In the amicus brief, the states’ attorneys general note that California Penal Code 32310 violates the Second Amendment: “This Court, therefore, should not apply a balancing approach – like strict scrutiny or intermediate scrutiny – to a ban on arms commonly used by law abiding citizens for lawful purposes. Such an approach would be inconsistent with the decisions of the Supreme Court in Heller, McDonald, and Caetano.”
“The enumerated right to bear arms reflected in the Second Amendment is fundamental and predates the Bill of Rights. The right is important to millions of Americans, including many of our most vulnerable citizens living in disadvantaged communities. The arms at issue in these proceedings are commonly used by millions of law-abiding citizens for a myriad of lawful purposes,” added the attorneys general.