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Crucial Court Ruling Is Unanimous, Dems Suffer Blow

This article was originally published at StateOfUnion.org. Publications approved for syndication have permission to republish this article, such as Microsoft News, Yahoo News, Newsbreak, UltimateNewswire and others. To learn more about syndication opportunities, visit About Us.
The Arizona Supreme Court

The Arizona Supreme Court delivered a unanimous decision, supporting the Arizona Republican Party (ARP) in a significant legal dispute arising from the 2020 elections.

Major Ruling

This ruling reversed earlier judgments by a trial court and the Arizona Court of Appeals, which had ordered the ARP and its legal representatives to cover the legal costs for the state’s defense.

ARP Lawsuit

The lawsuit filed by the ARP challenged the procedures used in the post-election manual ballot recount in Maricopa County, alleging that the process did not adhere to statutory requirements.

Lower courts

The lower courts had ruled against the ARP, deeming the lawsuit baseless and brought in bad faith, resulting in the imposition of legal fees.

Contrasting

However, the Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling presents a contrasting perspective.


The justices determined that the lawsuit was not frivolous and was not brought in bad faith, leading to the nullification of the previously imposed penalties.

Judicial Review

Justice Lopez, in authoring the opinion, stated that the claims raised in the lawsuit were substantial enough to warrant judicial review, independent of the motives attributed by the lower courts.

2020 Election

The crux of the Supreme Court’s opinion revolved around the interpretation of state election laws and the manual recount processes following the 2020 general election.

Manual recount

The Arizona Republican Party (ARP) had expressed concerns about the use of voting centers instead of precincts in the manual recount—a method outlined in the Arizona Secretary of State’s election procedures manual but disputed as conflicting with state regulations.

Good faith

Justice Lopez, in the detailed ruling, noted, “We hold that the attorney fees award was improper because Petitioners’ claim was not groundless, thus obviating any need to determine whether the claim was made in the absence of good faith.”

Rule of law

“By sanctioning parties and their lawyers for bringing debatable, long-shot complaints, courts risk chilling legal advocacy and citizens raising ‘questions’ under the guise of defending the rule of law,” Justice Lopez wrote. “Even if done inadvertently and with the best of intentions, such sanctions present a real and present danger to the rule of law.”

Decision

The Arizona Republican Party expressed its approval of the ruling in a statement provided to the Arizona Mirror saying, “This ruling reaffirms the fundamental legal principle that raising questions about the interpretation and application of election laws is a legitimate use of the judicial system, not a groundless or bad faith action. We remain committed to ensuring that election laws are followed precisely, upholding the integrity of our electoral process.”

AZ state law

Over a week following the 2020 election, the lawsuit was filed, asserting that Arizona’s state law requiring restricted post-election manual recount audits conflicted with the state’s Elections Procedures Manual.

Early ballots

The legal dispute centered on the purported unlawfulness of choosing ballots for audit from voting centers instead of the conventional precinct delineations. Arizona’s laws mandate that every county must conduct a manual recount on 1% of all early ballots and also on ballots from 2% of precincts after each election.

Unanimous ruling

The unanimous ruling by the three-judge appeals panel unveiled the original intention of the AZGOP to challenge the hand-count audit procedures, a stance later abandoned strategically to halt Maricopa County from certifying its election results, thereby exposing the true motive behind the lawsuit.

Validity

The current standard dictates that a claim must be clearly groundless, with the plaintiff either acknowledging its lack of validity or displaying indifference to the truth while persisting with it.

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