Phoenix Coyotes Deal with Glendale Raises Concern

Arizona Republic:  “When the Glendale City Council gave the green light to a $197 million Phoenix Coyotes deal in December, it seemed the team’s future in the Valley was secured.  More than a month later, Glendale has not yet completed the deal.  Meanwhile, the Goldwater Institute is weighing whether to sue, scrutinizing the hockey agreement to see if it unconstitutionally relies on taxpayer funds to subsidize private enterprise.”

Goldwater Institute Sues Coconino County Recorder Owens for Preventing People Who Wore Tea Party Shirts from Voting

Goldwater Institute:  Wickberg vs. Owens –  “On Sept. 20, 2010, the Goldwater Institute filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Flagstaff resident Diane Wickberg to defend her right to vote at her polling place while wearing a T-shirt for the Flagstaff Tea Party. Poll workers have twice threatened to block Mrs. Wickberg from voting unless she removed or covered her T-shirt. The lawsuit says the actions of Coconino County and County Recorder Candace D. Owens violate Mrs. Wickberg’s constitutional rights and put her at risk of being arrested.”

Read the complaint filed with the district court and the Arizona Republic story called “Flagstaff grandmother’s ‘tea party’ shirt spurs lawsuit.”

Goldwater Institute Files Lawsuit to Overturn Obamacare

The Phoenix based Goldwater Institute filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to find that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, is unconstitutional.  Here is the text of the Goldwater Institute’s August 12, 2010, press release:

The Goldwater Institute filed a lawsuit today to strike down the 2010 federal health care reforms as a fundamental attack on individual freedom and the rights guaranteed to all Americans by the U.S. Constitution.The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Phoenix is a private challenge to the health care bill championed by President Barack Obama. Arizona and 21 other states are pursuing public lawsuits against the federal law, based in large part on preserving their traditional authority to regulate health insurance. This new lawsuit, known as Coons v Geithner, argues the federal health care bill exceeds the powers of Congress, violates individual rights, interferes with the authority of states, and violates the separation of powers by setting up a new bureaucracy without meaningful congressional oversight or judicial review.

“This lawsuit is our effort to bring down one of the most sweeping invasions of individual liberty and state sovereignty in American history,” said Clint Bolick, litigation director for the Goldwater Institute. “The federal health care bill is a sledgehammer to solve a problem that needs the precision of a scalpel. This is the most overbearing and intrusive way possible to try to address America’s rising health care costs.”

Nick Coons serves as the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit. A small business owner from Tempe, Mr. Coons pays for all of his medical care out of his own pocket and he wants to continue making his own health care decisions. Under the federal health care bill, Mr. Coons will face significant fines from the IRS if he doesn’t buy a health insurance plan that has been approved by the government by 2014.

“The government is making me spend money on something that I don’t want,” Mr. Coons said. “Is a stranger who works for the government in some other part of the country really going to know what I need? I am the best qualified to make these decisions for myself.”

The new federal law also violates Mr. Coons’ medical privacy by forcing him to disclose his medical records to an insurance company, and those records could be accessed by the federal government and others without his permission.

Mr. Coons has been joined as plaintiff in this case by U.S. Representatives Jeff Flake, Trent Franks, and John Shadegg, all of Arizona. The federal bill created a powerful board, called the Independent Payment Advisory Board, to assure cost containment. The board will have no meaningful oversight from Congress or the courts and can’t be repealed, except during a short time in 2017. This provision of the law violates the separation of powers doctrine essential to America’s system of government.

Other plaintiffs represented by the Goldwater Institute include Arizona state House Speaker Kirk Adams and 28 other Arizona legislators. Earlier this year, these lawmakers tried to resolve the state’s budget deficit in part by voting to reduce the state’s relatively generous benefits for people receiving health care through Medicaid. But the passage of the federal health care bill forced the Legislature to restore all benefits they had reduced or risk losing $7 billion in federal funding for the program. This federal coercion violates the First Amendment rights of these lawmakers to vote solely in the best interests of Arizona citizens.

To overturn the federal health care bill, the Goldwater Institute’s Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation is suing President Obama in his official capacity as head of the executive branch and Timothy Geithner, who as secretary of the Department of Treasury oversees the IRS and its task of fining individuals who don’t buy health insurance by 2014. The other two defendants are Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, whose department would implement the health care bill; and Attorney General Eric Holder, who oversees the Justice Department and other agencies set to enforce other provisions of the health care bill.

The Obama administration is expected to ask that this lawsuit be dismissed on the grounds that the federal bill won’t be fully implemented until 2014. But last month, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson rejected that argument against the state of Virginia’s legal challenge to the federal health care bill. Judge Hudson said Virginia deserves its day in court because the bill “radically changes the landscape of health insurance coverage in America.”

The Goldwater Institute will host a telephone town hall about this lawsuit against the federal health care bill at 7:00 p.m. tonight, August 12, 2010. To join the town hall, call (888) 886-6603 and enter event ID number 15269.

Learn more about Coons v. Geithner here. The Goldwater Institute is a research and litigation organization whose work is made possible by the generosity of its supporters. Click here to support this lawsuit or call Katie Charles at (602) 462-5000 x 249.

For more about this lawsuit, including discussions on the following subjects, see the Goldwater Institute’s lawsuit summary:

  • Why are we suing?
  • The health care bill raises health care costs and adds more taxes
  • The health care bill violates the rights to medical autonomy and privacy guaranteed by the Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth Amendments
  • The health care bill violates the First Amendment rights of elected officials
  • The health care bill erodes the Separation of Powers
  • Defies the purpose of the Interstate Commerce Clause
  • Runs afoul of the Health Care Freedom Act
  • Who are the clients?
  • Whom are we suing?
  • Can we win?
  • The Legal Team

See “Goldwater, congressmen challenge health reform” and “Watchdog agency files health care suit for Tempe candidate.”

See also the Coons v Geithner Complaint filed by the Goldwater Institute.

Arizona Teachers Union Suing State Because It Wants To Decide on Spending Rather than the Legislators Elected by the People

The Arizona Education Association sued the Arizona Legislature and Governor Jan Brewer again because it believes that the AEA should determine how Arizona should spend money on education rather than the Arizona legislature.  Last year the AEA sued the State of Arizona by filing a complaint directly with the Arizona Supreme Court, but the court threw the case out.  Once again, believing it is special, the AEA filed its lawsuit with the Arizona Supreme Court rather than first filing it in the Superior Court, which is where the little people file lawsuits. A press release on the AEA’s website says:

policy changes made in the 3rd special session of the Arizona State Legislature aimed at teachers and other school employees.  The policy changes allow arbitrary reductions in salary, prohibit seniority as a criterion for reduction in force, eliminate deadlines for issuing contracts, and limit employee rights to engage in professional association activities.

It’s just another battle in the never-ending war over who will run public schools, the teachers or somebody else?  The AEA is particularly bent out of shape because of a new Arizona law that “prohibit

[s] seniority as a criterion for reduction in force” as it likes to say.  Translation:  the AEA does not want teachers judged or paid on the basis of merit.  The Goldwater Institute said this about this new law and the novel concept embodied in it:

Under the new law, the balance of power has shifted.  Now, teacher quality takes precedence over teacher seniority.  What a concept. Inadequate teachers must now show improvement within 60 days of being informed of their sub-par performance.  Gone is the 85 day (17 weeks or 4 months) improvement plan that used to be in place.  Now, under-performing teachers can have their pay reduced without affecting the pay of better teachers. (We needed a law for this?)

That last statement deserves repeating.  We needed a law for this? Unfortunately the answer is yes.  The teachers’ union is adamantly opposed to anything that rates or rewards teachers based on teaching ability and success in the classroom.  If Arizona is going to have an education system that works, i.e., that educates its children, the teachers and the teachers’ unions cannot control the system.  Let’s not let the Arizona teachers remake Arizona education into the models of the New York City schools or the Los Angeles Unified School District.  For more about the nightmares these systems have become see:

See the Goldwater Institute‘s “Union trying to bully Legislators into changing law” and a story in the Arizona Republic: “Arizona law changes way teachers contract with districts” and the Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s “Because Policy Matters.”

Goldwater Institute Sues Phoenix to Produce Info on Hotel Deal

Phoenix Business Journal:  “The Goldwater Institute, an Arizona watchdog group, filed documents in Maricopa County Superior Court on Friday asking that a judge force the city of Phoenix to turn over documents in connection with the rebranding of the Wyndham Phoenix into a Marriott Renaissance property.  Goldwater attorney Carrie Ann Sitren said the group filed public document requests with the city Jan. 5 seeking information regarding the proposal, and now has filed suit to compel the city to produce the information.”

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