Attorney argues courts can’t force lawmakers to follow open meeting laws

Kory Langhofer said the state constitution gives the House and the Senate “an unalloyed authority to determine its own rules of procedure.”/Twitter/https://twitter.com/1061122305164636160

By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services 

An attorney for the Arizona Legislature is arguing to the state Court of Appeals that lawmakers — and not the courts — decide when they have to have open meetings.

In new legal briefs, Kory Langhofer said the state constitution gives the House and the Senate “an unalloyed authority to determine its own rules of procedure.” And that, he said, makes it impossible for a court to determine whether either has acted wrongfully or unlawfully by excluding members of the public from its proceedings.

The arguments are similar to those Langhofer made to a different judge in contending that lawmakers are within their power to determine, without judicial interference, whether they have to comply with other laws about what records are public.

In that case, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Michael Kemp rejected the idea that the legislature was entitled to a blanket exemption which could not be reviewed by the courts. And Kemp pointed out that while lawmakers could have written public records laws to exempt themselves, they had not done so.

But Langhofer, in arguments in this case to the state Court of Appeals, said that failure to carve out a legislative exemption is irrelevant.

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