"Russell Pearce Proposes Legislation To Use Public Funds To Defend A Law That’s Already Being Defended"
Back in September, the judges of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request by Arizona state Sen. Russell Pearce (R) to be a party in the federal government’s legal challenge to Arizona immigration law, SB-1070. Pearce, who sponsored SB-1070, claimed he has a “unique perspective” on SB-1070 and wanted to use his own attorneys to convince the appellate judges that all provisions of the law are legal. According to the Yuma Sun, Pearce seems to believe that there is evidence that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R-AZ), who is defending the law, does not believe that the statute in its entirety is legal. “Sen. Pearce is uniquely qualified to provide this interpretation of SB 1070 as its author and chief sponsor,” wrote his lawyers.
Pearce has never been known to give up easily, and this case is no exception. Coffee Today reports that Pearce introduced a bill, SB-1117, which would give the Senate President (who happens to be Pearce) and the leader of the Arizona House of Representatives the power to hire lawyers to initiate SB-1070 legal proceedings before state and federal courts, along with an unlimited power to use public funds to defend the controversial law. The bill states:
Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate may direct counsel to initiate a legal proceeding or appear on behalf of their respective chambers or on behalf of the legislature in any challenge in a state or federal court to laws 2010, chapter 113 and any amendments to that law. [...]
This act is an emergency measure that is necessary to preserve the public peace, health or safety and is operative immediately as provided by law.
As of the end of July 2010, lawyers defending SB-1070 have billed more than $1 million. So far, Brewer has been using money from the “defense fund” she set up which has attracted approximately $3.6 million in private donations. Pearce — who brags about being recognized as a “Hero of the Taxpayer” by Americans for Prosperity — essentially wants to reinvent the wheel by defending a law that Brewer’s administration already seems pretty committed to fighting for. All while the state’s budget deficit looms over the heads of lawmakers and the state legislature continues to uphold deathly cuts to the state’s medical transplant funding program.