Former Rep. Don Shooter makes a point during a speech on the floor of the Arizona State House before the vote to expel him from the chamber on Feb. 1, 2018. /Photo by Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
By Howard Fischer | Capitol Media Services
A federal appeals court on July 22 tossed out the claims of former state Rep. Don Shooter that his rights were violated when he was expelled in 2018 from the House of Representatives.
In a unanimous opinion, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the claims of the Yuma Republican against former House Speaker J.D. Mesnard and former gubernatorial aide Kirk Adams can’t survive the fact that they have qualified immunity for their actions.
Judge Daniel Collins, writing for the three-judge panel said that can be overcome only if it was clear that Mesnard and Adams had violated rights that were “clearly established.” Given the facts of this case, the judge wrote, Shooter could not reach that burden.
Collins also pointed out that the Arizona Constitution empowers the House to discipline its own members and even oust them with a two-thirds vote. He said that limits the ability of federal courts to second-guess the procedures used here.
Finally, the judges rebuffed Shooter’s contention that he had been ejected for violating a zero-tolerance standard against sexual harassment that did not exist before the move to remove him. But they said that argument fails because Shooter had failed to show that the House policy “allowed the sort of conduct of which he was accused.”