By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services via Arizona Capitol Times
Federal appellate judges have agreed to decide whether Martha McSally can continue to serve as a U.S. senator at least through the 2020 election.
And they have agreed to rush the case – at least by judicial standards.
In a brief order, the judges of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected arguments by McSally and Gov. Doug Ducey, who appointed her, that there is no need to expedite the issue.
“Regardless of how this court ultimately decides this appeal, Arizona voters will have the opportunity to select the person to complete Sen. John McCain’s term in 2020,” wrote Brett Johnson, one of the attorneys representing the governor. And he argued that there would not be a need for an expedited hearing had the challengers to the appointment moved a bit faster when the case was heard in federal district court in Phoenix.
James Tyrell III, McSally’s attorney, echoed those arguments in what amounts to a “me, too” filing with the court.
But that didn’t convince the appellate judges who agreed to move more quickly than normal and set a hearing for November.
That still leaves the question of whether there can be a final resolution and an order for a special election if it comes to that before the already scheduled August 2020 primary where McSally could face Republican foes in her bid to fill out the last two years of McCain’s six-year term and, if she survives that, the November general election where Democrat Mark Kelly hopes to unseat her. That’s because whoever loses this round is likely to seek U.S. Supreme Court review, which could delay a final ruling.