Sep 27, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Arizona judge: Adding mask mandates ban to budget bill unconstitutional

Doug Ducey.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey. Photo: Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

An Arizona judge ruled Monday that the state's ban on mask mandates in schools, and other measures put into the state budget by Republicans, are unconstitutional, the Arizona Republic reports.

Why it matters: The sweeping ruling voids a ban on vaccine requirements for public universities, community colleges and local governments, and strikes down some non-COVID-related measures like a ban on teaching critical race theory in classrooms and anti-fraud measures for ballots.

  • The measures were set to take effect Wednesday.

The Republican majority also included a provision in the bill to remove the Democratic Secretary of State's authority to enforce election laws, per KJZZ.

  • “The bill is classic logrolling — a medley of special interests cobbled together to force a vote for all or none,” wrote Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper in the ruling.

What she's saying: Cooper wrote that budget bills were meant to determine spending for the state, "not to enact laws prohibiting mask mandates, regulating school curriculum, or authorizing special interest projects unrelated to the budget or budget reconciliation."

  • "The issue here is not what the Legislature decided but how it decided what it did," she wrote.

Cooper cited laws in the Arizona Constitution that require bills to be about one subject and to be given names that reflect that subject, per KJZZ.

  • The state had argued that lawmakers have scope to decide what policies fit under the title of a bill, and what qualifies as the “single subject.”
  • A spokesperson for Republican Gov. Doug Ducey told KJZZ the ruling was "an example of judicial overreach."

What's next: Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich tweeted Monday he will appeal the ruling.

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