The Frankenstein Bill: House Bill 2305 and Direct Democracy

The Arizona Constitution was second in the nation to incorporate direct democracy procedures in its original text. Arizona voters have the constitutionally reserved rights of initiative, referendum, and recall. Traditionally, Arizona courts have evaluated initiative and recall petitions under the standard of substantial compliance, i.e., so long as petitions substantially complied with election requirements, the courts would not entertain postelection challenges to the petition. The Arizona Supreme Court reaffirmed this principle most recently in 2012 with its decision in Pedersen v. Bennett. But on June 14, 2013, in the last few hours of the legislative session, the Arizona legislature hastily passed House Bill 2305, which, among other things, tightens the standard of judicial review from substantial compliance to strict compliance. In this Note, I argue that this portion of the “Frankenstein” bill, so named because of its piecemeal creation from several “dead” bills, is unconstitutional because it violates separation of powers principles by telling the Supreme Court how to interpret the Constitution, a function that belongs solely to the judiciary. This Note goes on to discuss the implications of this bill, namely the erosion of Arizona’s tradition of direct democracy, and then reviews the ongoing direct democracy efforts against H.B. 2305.