PHOENIX — Saying the case isn’t legally “ripe,” a judge on Tuesday tossed out a challenge to a new statute that imposes additional restrictions on the ability of citizens to propose their own laws.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Sherry Stephens acknowledged there is evidence that HB 2244, approved earlier this year by the Republican-controlled legislature, will create additional burdens for future initiatives.
That’s because it overrules existing requirements that initiative petitions need be only in “substantial compliance” with election laws. Courts have repeatedly interpreted that to mean that measures can go to voters even if there are inadvertent errors by organizers or circulators, or mistakes those that do not affect the ability of voters to determine what is at issue.
Instead, the law that Stephens’ ruling allows to take effect Wednesday requires judges to void initiatives not in “strict compliance” with all election laws. That could mean disqualification of petition drives based on technical errors.
The judge said all that is legally irrelevant, at least for the time being.
She said anyone challenging an Arizona law “must demonstrate that he is realistically threatened by a repetition of a constitutional violation.” Merely the fact that the law could affect someone who violates it — and can avoid violating it — is insufficient to give Arizona courts the authority to rule.
And Stephens pointed out there is no current initiative drive that has been affected by the new requirement.
Tuesday’s ruling does not end the legal fight.
Attorney Roopali Desai who represents opponents of HB 2244 said she disagrees with Stephens’ conclusion…
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