Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills. Photo by Gage Skidmore (modified) | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
By Jim Small || Arizona Mirror
After the attorney general last year refused to defend a new law making it a crime to take video of police officers in some situations, the law’s author is back with a proposal that would require the state’s top attorney to defend every law.
State Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said it was frustrating that then-Attorney General Mark Brnovich, a fellow Republican, decided not to defend the law he sponsored in 2022 that banned video recording of police officers within eight feet of where “law enforcement activity” is taking place.
When Brnovich and county prosecutors opted not to defend the law against a federal lawsuit, which legislative attorneys warned last year was likely unconstitutional because the restrictions flew in the face of previous court rulings, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction and blocked the law from ever going into effect.
Courts have long ruled that the First Amendment protects not only the publication of videos, but also the act of recording them — particularly videos of public officers in public places.
The Arizona Mirror was part of a coalition of news organizations that filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law.
Kavanagh said it wasn’t right that the attorney general can pick and choose which laws to defend.
“Our lawyer should be our lawyer,” he told the Senate Government Committee on Wednesday.