Arizona Republican leaders ask court to excuse them from depositions in voting rights case

Ray Stern

Arizona Republic

Arizona legislative leaders hope the U.S. Supreme Court will save them from hours of depositions and an “invasive” request for records over two laws that require voters to prove their citizenship.

Senate President Warren Petersen and House Speaker Ben Toma argued in a 66-page court filing this week that the demands by plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the new laws violate their legislative privilege. That’s a legal doctrine that usually shields lawmakers from probing questions about their personal reasoning behind official actions.

“The U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized that inquiries into the motives of individual legislators is a ‘hazardous matter,’” Petersen told The Arizona Republic. “The district court ignored this precedent by ordering the depositions … simply because they stepped up to fully defend a law when the Arizona Attorney General was unwilling to do so.”

Former Republican Gov. Doug Ducey signed off on the laws last year after Republicans in the state House and Senate narrowly passed the bills on party lines. Arizona Freedom Caucus leader Jake Hoffman sponsored both bills, House Bills 2492 and 2243.

Petersen and Toma intervened as defendants in the case after Democratic Attorney General Kris Mayes, who was elected last year, declined to defend the laws. Neither law has taken effect yet following the lawsuit filed by Mi Familia Vota, Living United for Change in Arizona and 20 other plaintiffs from seven consolidated lawsuits, including civil rights groups, the national and state Democratic Party, Arizona Indigenous tribes and three individuals.

“I am confident the U.S. Supreme Court will right this injustice,” Petersen said.


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November 2023