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AZ Supreme Court grants Brewer’s petition on Medicaid expansion

Attorney Christina Sandefur
Goldwater Institute

‘We would love to see the state focus on its legitimate responsibilities rather than … ramming through unconstitutional legislation …’

PHOENIX – Attorney Christina Sandefur, a senior attorney with the Goldwater Institute, is the lead attorney representing the 36 legislators who voted against the Medicaid expansion as a provision of the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, during last July’s special session called by Gov. Jan Brewer expressly for that purpose.

With several Republicans, including Legislative District 15’s Rep. Heather Carter, joining with the Democrats to vote for the Brewer-led bill, which became known as OBrewercare, to place approximately 300,000 more people on Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), Arizona’s Medicaid program, at taxpayer expense without any long-term funding mechanism, it passed by only a simple majority.

Since passage of Proposition 108 in 1992, which passed by a 3-1 margin, Arizona’s Constitution requires a supermajority (two-thirds) vote of each chamber of the state legislature to approve any new taxes.

These legislators are suing Brewer for signing the bill into law when it passed with only a simple-majority vote.

On Feb. 5, 2014, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper granted Brewer’s motion to dismiss the case in its entirety, agreeing with Brewer’s argument that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the complaint.

However, the court of appeals disagreed and overturned the superior court’s dismissal of the case.

Brewer subsequently filed a petition for review with the Arizona Supreme Court, which granted her petition last week.

Following the Supreme Court’s announcement, Brewer issued the following statement: “I applaud the Arizona Supreme Court for granting the state’s petition for review in the Medicaid Restoration lawsuit. With the court’s decision, Arizona is one step closer to ending the baseless lawsuit, thereby allowing the state to focus exclusively on implementing one of the most critical and meaningful health care policies to be enacted in years: the restoration of a significant segment of our model Medicaid program, AHCCCS, in accordance with the will of the Arizona voters and the state legislature.

“I am hopeful the court will affirm the Superior Court ruling and reverse the appellate decision, siding with the majority of Arizonans and a bi-partisan legislative coalition. As I have said before, this issue is not about politics – it is about the more than 276,000 Arizonans who risk losing crucial, cost-effective healthcare, the viability of our rural and safety-net hospitals, and the ability of our state budget to fund critical programs and services essential to our most vulnerable.”

Sandefur also issued a statement after the announcement the petition for review was granted and said, “We would love to see the state focus on its legitimate responsibilities rather than violating the will of the taxpayers by ramming through unconstitutional legislation that will unduly burden generations of Arizonans with an expensive and unsustainable long-term liability. This case is vital to upholding the integrity of the legislative process and keeping lawmakers in check when they want to skirt the rules to support their personal agenda.

“The Court of Appeals obviously disagreed with the governor about the suit being baseless, and we are hopeful the justices of the Arizona Supreme Court will agree and give the legislators their day in court.”

Sandefur is a senior attorney at the Goldwater Institute, where she litigates cases advancing economic liberty, private property, free speech, and taxpayer rights. She is also the lead attorney in the Institute's challenges to Obamacare.

Sandefur is regularly cited as an expert in national media, and she is a frequent guest on national television and radio programs, including Fox Business’s Stossel, Dick Morris, and The Armstrong & Getty Show. Her cases have been featured in National Review, The Washington Post, Human Events, The American Spectator, and The Weekly Standard, among others, and her own commentary has appeared in The Daily Caller, Regulation Magazine, and many other publications. Sandefur has provided expert legal testimony to various legislative committees and is a frequent speaker at conferences. She graduated summa cum laude from Michigan State University College of Law, where she served as Notes Editor on the Michigan State Law Review, and graduated magna cum laude from Hillsdale College.

Readers may recall Sandefur successfully represented taxpayers in a complaint against Cave Creek Unified School District when the school board attempted to use bond money for projects it preferred rather than for those authorized by voters.