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Arizona Supreme Court upholds ruling tossing out in-state tuition lawsuit in blow to AG

The Arizona Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld a lower court’s decision to dismiss most of a lawsuit that sought to change how Arizona handled in-state tuition, a case that was brought forth by Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R).

Brnovich in September 2017 sued the Arizona Board of Regents, claiming the board had gone against constitutional provisions that required state university tuition to be as close to free as possible. That portion of the suit was thrown out, but part of his suit that claimed the board had violated state rules by giving tuition to students without legal immigration status was allowed another day in court.

A 2006 ballot measure, Proposition 300, bars students without legal immigration status from receiving public benefits and Brnovich claims the board provided funds to such students anyway. The attorney general is seeking to recover the money he alleges was “illegally spent,” reports The Arizona Republic.

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The suit was originally tossed out in April 2018 by a Maricopa County judge who said Brnovich lacked the authority to sue the board without permission from the Arizona Legislature or the governor. The decision was later upheld by the Court of Appeals.

Brnovich countered that he in fact did have that power as his position gave him the authority to bring forth cases “on behalf of the public interest.”

In its decision, the Arizona Supreme Court stated that agreeing with Brnovich on such a claim would "mark a significant expansion in the Attorney General’s power that neither the constitution nor legislature contemplated."

The court did however acknowledge that Brnovich had the power to “recover illegally paid public monies." That portion of the lawsuit has been sent back to the Maricopa County Superior Court.

Without acknowledging the portion of the lawsuit that was shot down, Brnovich celebrated the court’s decision.

“The Court also made it clear the AG can initiate litigation when there’s an illegal payment of public monies,” Brnovich said in a series of tweets. “This decision is important as we move forward with our case next week to hold AZ public universities accountable for sweetheart real-estate deals. I will always fight on behalf of hardworking Arizona taxpayers.”

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