How Banning Abortions Turned Into Banning Elections


Arizona’s GOP has “grand” plans for the Grand Canyon State, and none of them have the voters or democracy in mind. But how did the overturning of abortion rights turn into overturning Arizonans’ right to vote justices out of office?

It started in March 2022. Arizona’s state legislature passed a 15-week abortion ban. Technically, there was another abortion ban already on the books. It was from 1864—when Black people were still enslaved, women couldn’t vote, and Arizona wasn’t even a state. State legislators knew this centuries-old abortion ban was still on the books, but they decided to let it ride and didn’t repeal it when they passed the new 15-week ban.

So when the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson three months later and both laws became enforceable, state lawmakers were lost. Do they uphold the 15-week abortion ban or enforce the ban from 1864? 

Since no one knew, it was time for the courts to clarify. 

Unfortunately, the question went all the way to Arizona’s conservative Supreme Court. Just like the MAGA-packed Supreme Court, they decided to legislate from the bench and reinstate the 1864 near-total abortion ban. 

That’s not the end of this story, though. 

Now, the state’s GOP wants to protect the extremist judges who delivered them this win from having to answer to voters, like the two Arizona Supreme Court justices who are up for retention elections this year. 

How can they do that, you ask? With SCR1044, that’s how. 

SCR1044 is a recently-introduced bill by the Arizona GOP that attacks voters’ decades-old right to vote out judges. This ballot referral would end judicial retention elections and allow judges to serve for life. The kicker? It would shield the two justices up for re-election that voted in favor of upholding the abortion ban from being voted out of office. Does that sound like democracy to you? 

Doubts about the ethics and impartiality of judges are at an all-time high—from the Supreme Court on down. For 50 years, Arizona voters have had the power to weigh in on whether judges appointed by the governor should remain on the bench, encouraging them to remain independent and impartial. This is a power that should be protected, not taken away. 

The Arizona GOP is using the MAGA playbook: taking a battering ram to the will of voters while hoping that their constituents won’t notice. Don’t give them the satisfaction. Everyone needs to know what’s happening in Arizona. Share this with your family and friends to let everyone know about the GOP’s attacks on Arizona’s democracy.