RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION BY APPELLATE COURT COMMISSION BRINGS JUDICIAL SELECTION AND REDISTRICTING PROCESS INTO QUESTION
CENTER FOR ARIZONA POLICY PRESIDENT CATHI HERROD CALLS FOR COMMISSIONER LOUIS ARANETA TO STEP DOWN AFTER DISPARAGING REMARKS ABOUT APPLICANT'S FAITH
A member of the Arizona Commission on Appellate Court Appointments is being called to resign after citing an applicant's Christian faith as a disqualification for the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC). The IRC is charged with nominating 25 people to sit on the five-person body that will be drawing the new legislative and congressional district lines.
According to news reports and observers who attended the commission's public hearing on December 8 in which the commission reviewed applications, Commissioner Louis Araneta voiced concerns with applicant Christopher Gleason. Araneta spoke out against Gleason's application because it included "strong religious overtones" saying "there should be a separation of church and state."
"Not only did Mr. Araneta completely mischaracterize Mr. Gleason's application, but it is unconscionable that a person's religious beliefs are seen as a disqualifying bias. Not one commissioner challenged Mr. Araneta's comments against Mr. Gleason," said Cathi Herrod, president of Center for Arizona Policy.
The only mention of Gleason's Christian faith on his application is his membership on the board of 4-Tucson, a Christian community service organization.
"The IRC is designed to be a nonpartisan, independent body," said Herrod. "Mr. Araneta's remarks and the Commission's silence reveal a bias against people of certain religious beliefs. Mr. Araneta should step down immediately, and the commission should issue an apology to Mr. Gleason for their silence."
What is perhaps most troubling about the Commission's religious bias is that the Commission is the same group that nominates judges for Arizona's appellate courts. It's deeply disturbing that those individuals charged with selecting judges would say that faith in Jesus Christ is a disqualification for public service.
The Appellate Court Commission provides the governor with a list of judicial candidates in much the same way as they provide a list of candidates for the IRC.