Today marks the 221stanniversary of the U.S. Constitution, the "supreme Law of the Land," and the creation of the federal government. Although the federal Constitution sets the floor for the protection of individual rights, states are free to augment those protections. Arizona has done this on a number of occasions: Private Property Rights Protection Act (Proposition 207):While the federal government may freely regulate away the value of people's homes and businesses without compensating them as long as some meager value remains, Arizona regulators must provide just compensation for many land use regulations that diminish property values.
Taxpayer Access to Courts: Arizona taxpayers have broad standing to sue when public funds are spent illegally. In federal courts, illegal expenditures go unchallenged by taxpayers except in very limited cases.
Supermajority to Increase Taxes: Unlike the U.S. Constitution which requires a simple majority of the Congress to approve a tax increase, Arizona's Constitution requires tax increases to be passed by a 2/3 vote of the legislature and signed into law by the governor. If the governor won't approve the increase, the legislature must pass a tax hike with a 3/4 majority.
Arizona has surpassed some federal thresholds but still has a long way to the summit of supreme protection of individual rights. To help us along that path, Arizona lawmakers should work to reinvigorate provisions of the Arizona Constitution like the equal privileges and immunities clause, the separation of powers clause, and the debt limit.
As we celebrate the anniversary of the rights guaranteed to us by the U.S. Constitution, let us also strive to make Arizona's legal protections the most supreme of the land.
Carrie Ann Sitren is an attorney with the Goldwater Institute Scharf-Norton Center for Constitutional Litigation.
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