Arizona voters to decide on an amendment providing for legal challenges to ballot initiatives before an election

Voters in Arizona will decide on a constitutional amendment regarding legal challenges to ballot initiatives on Nov. 5, 2024.

The ballot measure, Senate Concurrent Resolution 1041 (SCR 1041), allows for the filing of a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of a proposed citizen-initiated measure after it has been filed with the secretary of state and at least 100 days before it is scheduled to appear on the ballot. If the superior court rejects the challenge, the plaintiff has five days to appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court.

According to the measure’s purpose statement, “The Arizona Supreme Court has long maintained, however, that it lacks authority to adjudicate challenges to the constitutionality of an initiative unless and until the initiative is adopted … This amendment expressly authorizes challenges to the constitutional validity of proposed initiative measures or constitutional amendments at any time after a petition is filed with the secretary of state.”

On March 11, 2023, SCR 1041 passed the Arizona State Senate by 16-12, with all Republicans voting for the measure and all Democrats voting against it. On June 12, 2024, the measure passed the House by 31-29, with all 31 Republicans voting for the measure and all 29 Democrats voting against it.

State Rep. Austin Smith (R-29), who supports the amendment, said, “It’s an opportunity to challenge constitutional amendments, which is actually starting to happen a lot more than they used to.”

State Rep. Laura Terech (D-4), who opposes the amendment, said, “This is going to astronomically raise the cost of running these initiatives and I find it deeply, deeply undemocratic.”

Arizona voters will be deciding on 11 ballot measures in 2024. All were referred to the ballot by the Arizona state legislature. They are: