Arizona lawmakers can't avoid depositions in voting lawsuit, Supreme Court holds

November 28, 2023

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that top Republican lawmakers in Arizona cannot avoid depositions in a lawsuit over whether they support laws that require voter ID.

The court rejected without comment a request from Arizona GOP House Speaker Ben Toma and state Senate GOP President Warren Petersen to stay a lower court ruling requiring them to hand over documents and be deposed in the case.

It's part of a challenge by the Justice Department, the Democratic National Committee, and civil rights groups to the state's House Bill 2492, signed into law in March 2022 to require voters to provide a birth certificate or passport when they vote.

Toma and Petersen took the step of defending the law when the Democrat attorney general, Kris Mayes, failed to do so for some parts of it.

Privilege doesn't apply

Normally, lawmakers have legislative privilege from testifying in cases like this, but because Toma and Peterson involved themselves in the fight, lower court Judge Susan Bolton ruled that they would not be exempt.

“The speaker and president must produce communications that they have sent or received relating to the voting laws’ legislative process and withheld on legislative privilege grounds,” she wrote in September. “They may also be deposed about their personal involvement in the voting laws’ legislative process.”

Plaintiffs in the case said that the lawmakers had waived their privilege, and the Supreme Court apparently agreed.

Toma and Petersen did provide 90,000 pages of documents and written answers to some questions, but wanted to use their privilege to refuse to hand over certain documents and answer certain questions.

No relief

An appeals court temporarily blocked the order by the lower court, but then lifted it, prompting the filing with the Supreme Court.

The court gets thousands of emergency requests every year and rejects most of them without comment.

The law has not gone into effect yet, but could have a huge impact on the 2024 presidential election.

Arizona is a swing state. In addition, it is also a border state that has been flooded with illegal immigrants, some of whom could be mobilized to vote illegally in elections if no proof of identity and citizenship are required.

Allegations of voter fraud did happen in Arizona in the 2020 election. Biden narrowly won that state after none of the allegations were proven.

It is expected to be a close race in 2024 if former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden end up as their parties' respective nominees.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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