Justices of the Supreme Court

Johnson Utilities Inc v Arizona Corporation Commission et al, decided July 31, was an unusual decision because it went beyond the narrow holding courts usually seek and clarified how the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) fits into the state constitution. Before the decision, the ACC regarded itself as “Arizona’s co-equal, fourth branch of government.” In fact, on July 30, it had proposed issuing a mandate requiring electricity to be generated by renewable sources of energy, not very different from the 2018 ballot Proposition 127 which was defeated 2:1. No, says the Court in this decision, which makes it clear the ACC has no more power than a municipality, and that its decisions may be overridden by the legislature. One might wish the Court had gone even further, along the lines of the dissent by Justice Bolick, but we should celebrate whenever a court has the courage to overturn its own past errors, and ground a rogue unit of the government in already written law.

The author, Justice Gould, and concurring justice Lopez were appointed by Governor Ducey. Chief Justice Brutinel, also concurring, was appointed by Governor Brewer. We should retain them.