May 5, 2024

AZ Supreme Court reverses sanctions against state GOP over 2020 election dispute

Legal fallout from the contested nature of the 2020 presidential election continues apace, but last week, the outcome in one state actually favored Republicans.

As the Washington Examiner reports, the Arizona Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling that issued financial sanctions against the state GOP in an amount exceeding $27,000 over its unsuccessful challenge to voting results in Maricopa County.

Background of sanction award

The Arizona GOP filed suit against Maricopa County in the wake of the disputed 2020 election, protesting the hand-count audit process required there and the manner in which it was conducted.

According to Republican officials, the audit was improperly done in that it made use of sample votes submitted at polling centers that were open to voters countywide, not just those from specific precincts.

In the end, Judge John Hannah declared the legal complaint to lack merit, and he ordered payment of $18,000 in legal fees as a result.

Following an unsuccessful appeal, the GOP was levied an additional $9,000 in financial sanctions, bringing the total to nearly $27,000.

State Supreme Court reverses

As The Hill reports, the state's high court on Thursday unanimously overruled the imposition of sanctions against the GOP.

“During times of social and political contention and strife, we must be mindful that our courts provide a means of resolving such conflicts when issues are legitimately presented,” the Supreme Court's opinion declared.

The court continued, “Even if done inadvertently and with the best of intentions, such sanctions present a real and present danger to the rule of law.”

“We hold that the attorney fees award was improper because Petitioner's claim was not groundless, thus obviating any need to determine whether the claim was made in the absence of good faith,” noted Justice John Lopez, who penned the opinion.

GOP lauds outcome

Not surprisingly, Arizona Republicans heralded the ruling nullifying the sanctions award.

Representatives from the state GOP issued a statement saying that the decision “reaffirms the fundamental legal principle that raising questions about the interpretation and application of election laws is a legitimate use of the judicial system, not a groundless or bad faith action," and that is a sentiment that may become all the more important as the 2024 cycle continues apace.

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