Far-right group sues Arizona governor
July 30 2003 12:00 AM ET
A far-right group has filed a petition with the Arizona supreme court arguing that Gov. Janet Napolitano overstepped her authority when she issued an executive order bannng employment discrimination based on sexual orientation in some state agencies. Rep. John Allen is one of three state legislators involved in the suit, which was filed by the Alliance Defense Fund. "She is trying to circumvent the system for expedience and for political purpose.... She's legislating through executive order," Allen said, referring to Napolitano.
Tim Nelson, Napolitano's general counsel, said the governor acted within her authority and will fight the lawsuit.
The petition, the equivalent of a civil suit, asks that the supreme court void the governor's order as unconstitutional.
Based in Scottsdale, Ariz., the Alliance Defense Fund describes itself on its Web site as a "unique Christian legal organization that works to protect and defend traditional family values, religious freedom, and the sanctity of life." The lawsuit argues that the governor reached into legislative authority by setting employment policy and, in effect, made new law.
Napolitano, a Democrat, announced the executive order last month at an event held by the Arizona Human Rights Fund, a gay and lesbian advocacy group. The order applies only to state agencies under her control. It does not apply to private employers, state universities, or state agencies under the control of the legislature or the courts.
Nelson said the executive order does not make new law because it applies only to those agencies under the governor's authority. "It is well within the purview of the governor to say we are not going to discriminate against people on grounds that have nothing to do with job performance," he said.