Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Greater Phoenix Chapter

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Church State Issues

It's OK to mix government and religion for a good cause????

Apr 28, 2014

Arizona Republic

Sadly this sort of thing routinely happens when people challenge the governments mixing of religion and government.

The courts say the people "don't have standing to sue", and deny them the right to sue the government for mixing religion and government for some silly reason.

I suspect the courts logic is that despite the fact that both the Arizona and US Constitutions ban mixing of government and religion, that the intent of the lawmakers to mix religion and government is for a good reason and should be allowed.

Of course if that is true why should we even have a Constitution which the main purposes of is to limit the power of government.

Judges do their job on Medicaid challenge

Robert Robb, The Republic | 3:54 p.m. MST April 25, 2014

The reaction to the state Court of Appeals decision upholding the standing of dissenting legislators to challenge Medicaid expansion was disheartening.

The prevailing response was along the following lines: Medicaid expansion was a good, important and wonderful thing. Judges should leave it alone.

Where to begin?

In 1992, Arizona voters approved a state constitutional amendment saying that any increase in state revenue requires a two-thirds vote of both legislative chambers. The Medicaid expansion is funded by an assessment on hospitals. The measure passed with only a simple majority, short of two-thirds. Legislators on the losing end brought a lawsuit claiming that the expansion was therefore unconstitutionally enacted.

The issue before the Court of Appeals was strictly whether the legislators had standing to bring the lawsuit, not the merits of the lawsuit itself. It wasn't a very close call, and the decision was unanimous. Just last year, the state Supreme Court held that members of a judicial nominating panel had standing to challenge legislation that diluted the effect of their vote. How would a legislator not have standing on the same basis?

Now, I supported Medicaid expansion early and often. But what were the judges supposed to do? Say that since expansion is so good, important and wonderful, we aren't going to consider the narrow legal question put before us? Or we're going to decide it contrary to a recent state Supreme Court precedent that's supposed to be binding on us?

Standing shouldn't depend on whether judges think the law whose constitutionality is being challenged is good or bad. Judges aren't supposed to play legislator or pundit. They are supposed to be judges.

Reach Robb at Follow him on Twitter at @RJRobb.