[OPINION] Arizona’s attorney general should not be given this much power

By Robert Robb | Arizona Republic 

(Editor’s note: Opinion pieces are published for discussion purposes only.)

Mark Brnovich’s tuition lawsuit raises tricky questions about who he can sue. Lawmakers should answer them.

The Arizona Supreme Court will soon be asked to decide a question about the fundamental structure of state government.

Unfortunately, the question doesn’t have a clear answer in law. And the answer in law might not be the best in terms of policy.

The question is whether the state attorney general has independent, general authority to sue, or whether he needs express statutory authorization or approval from the governor.

For as long as I’ve been watching, which is now a very long time, attorneys general, Republican and Democratic, have asserted a broad range of independent authority.

They are elected by the people, goes the argument. That gives them an autonomous mandate for action.

That view finds no support in Arizona’s Constitution, which merely says that the powers and duties of the attorney general “shall be as prescribed by law.” In other words, as decided by the Legislature and the governor.

Brnovich’s tuition lawsuit has some merit

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