Suit seeks wider Prop. 200
November 19, 2004
By Howard Fischer
seeking to void Goddard's narrow
PHOENIX - A key supporter of
Proposition 200 filed suit Thursday challenging
the opinion of Attorney General Terry Goddard
that the initiative applies to only a handful of
Randy Pullen said Goddard's
14-page opinion issued last week is too narrow
in its scope of what services are covered by the
initiative. The initiative language requires
that applicants for "public benefits" prove they
are in this country legally.
Goddard said Proposition 200
covers only programs established by Title 46,
the state's Welfare Code - and only those not
funded in whole or part with federal money. That
left only a handful of programs like rental and
housing assistance, the opinion said.
Pullen's lawsuit says the
initiative is far broader, including everything
from home care for the elderly and temporary
assistance to needy families to the state's
health insurance program for the poor.
Pullen, chairman of the Yes on
200 Committee, said at the time of Goddard's
opinion that he would not sue but instead ask
the Legislature to extend the requirement to
various other public services.
"It wasn't going to be settled
anyway," Pullen said, noting that the Mexican
American Legal Defense and Education Fund is
preparing its own lawsuit challenging the
constitutionality of the initiative. Pullen said
that since the scope and validity of Proposition
200 is going to be decided in court, he might as
well have his own position heard.
Attorney David Abney said he
filed suit now - before the measure is declared
law later this month - because Goddard's opinion
creates a situation that has to be remedied
immediately. He compared it to the old
advertising slogan: When E.F. Hutton talks,
"When the attorney general talks,
agencies and governments across the state will
say, 'OK, that's what we're going to do,' " he
"His opinion is incorrect and it
will cause a great deal of incorrect action to
be taken across the state," Abney continued.
"Now's a good time to fix the problem before the
wheels completely come off."
Andrea Esquer, Goddard's press
aide, said her boss had not yet seen the lawsuit
and would not comment. But she said Goddard
believes he has issued a "sound opinion."
Formal certification that
Proposition 200 passed comes Monday.
But Tim Nelson, chief counsel to
Gov. Janet Napolitano, said she won't formally
proclaim the results for another week or two,
saying the governor wants to ensure that the
Department of Economic Security, which
administers most of the affected programs, has
time to prepare to enforce the identification
Pullen's lawsuit was filed in the
Mesa office of Maricopa County Superior Court
rather than the main location in downtown
Phoenix. Pullen said that was no accident.
"Sometimes you've got to think
about what judges you might get," he said.
The legal action angered Kathy
McKee, organizer of the original Protect Arizona
Now Committee, which crafted the measure. She
said Pullen's group, which splintered away from
her group, "is clearly a front for these
out-of-state groups" who fund the Yes on 200
"Now they're trying to litigate
their way into saying what our
initiative means, what our attorney
general said it means," she said. "And I think
it's very offensive."
Pullen acknowledged much of the
legal support for the lawsuit comes from the
Federation for American Immigration Reform.
Also joining the lawsuit is Bob
Park, the author of the successful 1988
constitutional initiative to declare English the
official language of the state. The measure
eventually was struck down by the courts.