Arizona High Court to decide if Senate audit is secret | New Policies

PHOENIX (AP) — The Arizona Supreme Court said Tuesday it will hear the Arizona Senate’s appeal of lower court rulings that it must release hundreds of documents related to its partisan scrutiny of the election of 2020.

The state’s highest court said it would consider whether the Arizona Court of Appeals and a lower court correctly rejected the Senate’s claim that the documents were protected by legislative privilege.

The appeals court ruled last month that legislative privilege does not broadly protect records. He upheld a lower court’s narrow view of legislative privilege, rejecting arguments from Republican-controlled Senate lawyers.

The Senate and Cyber ​​Ninjas, the inexperienced firm he hired to lead the GOP’s 2020 election review, have been battling for months over two lawsuits, one filed by Republic’s parent company. of Arizona and the second by American Oversight, a government watchdog group. .

They argue that the public clearly has a right to know how the Senate and its contractors conducted the election review. Senate contractors hand-recounted 2.1 million Maricopa County ballots amid claims by some Republicans that former President Donald Trump lost Arizona to voter fraud.

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The review found that President Joe Biden won the election and found no major issues.

The Supreme Court rulings and case cover only the lawsuit of the US Surveillance Public Records. The High Court declined to combine the two cases for the purposes of its review.

The Senate has released more than 20,000 documents but is withholding all or part of about 1,000 documents citing legislative privilege, which is intended to promote thorough debate among elected officials.

Senate Republicans have argued that the privilege broadly applies to communications by lawmakers regarding election scrutiny. Lower courts have held that the privilege only applies to discussions related to the process of passing laws.

The Arizona Supreme Court will directly consider whether this is the correct standard along with two other related issues.

The appeals court ordered the Senate to release the records to American Oversight or turn them over to a judge to decide whether the narrower view of legislative privilege will allow the Senate to withhold specific documents.

The Arizona Supreme Court blocked the release of the filings while it considered whether to appeal the Senate. Tuesday’s order accepting the case also keeps the secrecy order in place.

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