Arizona Public Media
AZPM on Facebook AZPM on Twitter AZPM on YouTube AZPM on Google+ AZPM on Instagram

AZ Week Notebook


Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne said in an interview for Arizona Week that he will help lead the way for Arizona asserting its state's rights against an intrusive federal government but that there are some ideas in the Legislature he could not support as constitutional.

"I do think there are legitimate 10th Amendment issues ... , Horne said. "I am challenging some federal actions on the basis of the 10th Amendment in court cases. But I also believe that once the courts rule, we should obey those rules."

The 10th Amendment is known as the states' rights amendment, giving the states and the people all rights not specifically reserved for the federal government.

Horne's comments come against the backdrop of a Republican-controlled Arizona Senate in which up to a dozen bills have been introduced that challenge federal authority, including bills that would allow the state to seize federal land through eminent domain and to arrest federal officers who are in the state enforcing federal laws the state has disagreed with.

The Republican, who took office last month, said he will defend the state in any case that's a challenge to federal authority as long as he thinks the state's side is constitutional. When he thinks it is not, he said, he will hire outside counsel to represent the state.

Ultimately, the federal courts will decide up to and including the U.S. Supreme Court, and he would respect those decisions as being the law of the land.

"Whatever office we hold, federal or state, we swear to uphold the U.S. Constitution," Horne said.

Watch Arizona Week Friday at 6:30 p.m. on KUAT-TV 6 in Tucson and at 10:30 p.m. on KAET-TV 8 in Phoenix for the full story, analysis and commentary.


The "supremacy clause" of the U.S. Constitution:

Article VI, Clause 2 This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.

The "states' rights" amendment of the U.S. Constitution:

10th Amendment The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

On Friday's Arizona Week, we will discuss the two in relation to one another and to the bigger picture of what is happening in the Arizona Legislature and the political realm at the State Capitol.


The state of Arizona and the federal government already have clashed over a number of issues in which each side says it has the right constitutionally to govern a given area.

Such issues range from stripping businesses of their licenses for employing illegal immigrants and tax credits for religious schools to public funding for election campaigns and immigration law enforcement. The business license, religious schools and public funding cases all are on the U.S. Supreme Court docket.

And more cases likely are coming. The Arizona Legislature is considering bills that will push more enforcement of immigration, challenge the federal government on its oversight of commerce and health care and impose a kind of omnibus legislation that would allow the state by fiat to reject any federal laws it feels are unconstitutional.

Republican Attorney General Tom Horne has been on the edge of such issues, helping push the state along a path of challenge to federal authority. "I think that's an unfortunate decision," Horne was quoted Feb. 2 by the Arizona Daily Star as saying regarding a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling giving the Environmental Protection Agency the power to regulate greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide.

Arizona Week will interview Horne for Friday's program to get his viewpoint.

Also scheduled for the program is University of Arizona law Professor Ana Maria Merico, who teaches a course in federalism and has done extensive research on the topic of the legal and constitutional relationship between the states and the federal government.

Additionally, Patrick Cunningham, a third-year law student at Arizona State University, will discuss an article he wrote for the Arizona State Law Journal about the business license revocation case as an example of the clash over federalism.


Two U.S. Supreme Court cases with implications for Arizonans are pending decisions, and at least one more -- possibly two or three more -- cases are headed to the highest court in the land.

All are examples of Arizona's pushback of what Republican Gov. Jan Brewer, GOP Attorney General Tom Horne and Republican legislative leaders say are illegal and unwarranted federal intrusions, or shortcomings by the federal government in providing Arizona the protections that the Constitution calls for.

Now before the court are:

  • A challenge to the state's school tax credit system, specifically its allowance for contributions under the credit going to religious-only schools, saying that is a violation of the First Amendment principle of separation of church and state. Supreme Court arguments were heard in November 2010.

  • A challenge to the state's Clean Elections system, which gives to candidates who apply and qualify for it public funding in an amount equal to what their opponents raise privately. It also is a First Amendment case, citing the Clean Elections law as a violation of free speech. Supreme Court arguments are expected this spring.

While those are First Amendment cases, the basis for much of the legal and political activity in Arizona is aimed at interpretations of the U.S. Constitution's "supremacy clause" vs. the 10th Amendment.

The "supremacy clause is Article VI, Clause 2, which says that the Constitution and the laws of the United States "shall be the supreme law of the land." The 10th Amendment says, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

One case likely to go to the Supreme Court is over Arizona's SB1070, the strict immigration control law, passed last year amid talk by state Republican leaders of their frustrations over the federal government failing to protect the state from what some called an "invasion" of illegal immigrants across the Arizona-Mexico border.

This legislation session has seen introduction of bills calling for the state to be able to nullify any federal law that legislators think intrudes on the state's sovereignty and one bill that would make it a minor felony for a federal officer to undertake enforcement of any such law.

Additionally, a legislator and Attorney General Tom Horne have said they reject a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2007 that upheld the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's authority to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

For Friday, Arizona Week is assembling a list of guests who can speak to the issue from both its political and legal viewpoints, along with a panel of journalists to provide commentary on the issues.


The three journalists whose commentary will be on tonight's Arizona Week raised a raft of significant and interesting issues around this week's swift introduction, debate and passage of the Arizona Competitiveness Package.

From Luige del Puerto of the Arizona Capitol Times: The debate was furious for a day or so, but the bill ended up being handled the way the AZ Legislature handles the budget -- crafted it behind closed doors, then jammed through quickly.

From Mark Evans of The problem with the quick movement of the bill was that legislators didn't get time to read it, let alone understand it. "The legislative sausage making that we're so derisive about" is a necessary component of the process, Evans said.

From Jahna Berry of the Arizona Republic: The business community hasn't fully weighed in, especially on the idea of the transparency that everyone is promising with the Commerce Authority. Can businesspeople accustomed to operating privately make the adjustment? We'll watch closely.

All that and more commentary on tonight's broadcast, 8:30 p.m. MST on KUAT-TV Channel 6 in Tucson and online at

Arizona Commerce Authority Arizona Legislature,


Gubernatorial Communications Director Matthew Benson set up Arizona Week's interview with Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday. The governor and Benson were generous with her time, giving us a good half-hour on a busy day.

Timing couldn't have been better. Brewer walked into the interview room minutes after the Arizona Senate had approved the Arizona Competitiveness Package, a 214-page strategy for growing quality jobs and overall economic improvement.

She was ebullient over the passage, saying she hoped the bill would be transmitted to her quickly for her signature. That occurred Thursday evening, and the bill with its big tax cuts for businesses and other incentives is now law.

As we settled in for Wednesday's interview with the governor -- adjusting microphones and sound levels, checking camera angles and warming under the bright lights -- I told her that the cameras would begin rolling momentarily and not be stopped for the entirety of the interview.

"We'll make adjustments in the editing if I screw up," I said jokingly.

Her immediate response: "Will you cover me, too?"

We did. Late in the interview, Brewer began coughing, and we had to stop so she could sip water. We restarted, and she responded to the question at hand in the same way she had begun to before the break.

The unabridged version of the interview to be posted on our Website later today will be without the coughing episode. But everything else there is as it occurred.

When the interview ended, I thanked Brewer and told her I would look forward to future interviews. She expressed openness to the idea, saying, "Yes, do you want to talk about the budget? How about the border?"

Indeed. We shall be back. Communications Director Benson allowed afterward that we could count on "regular" interviews with Brewer; he defined that as meaning every couple of months.

About AZ Week Notebook

News and commentary from Arizona Week producer/host Michael Chihak and interns Melanie Huonker and Lucy Valencia.