Arizona Supreme Court mulls appeal over tuition costs lawsuit

The Arizona Supreme Court is considering an appeal in a case that involves both the cost of tuition to attend a state university and the authority of the state attorney general.

The justices will rule sometime in the future after hearing legal arguments Thursday on Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s appeal of a lower court’s ruling that dismissed Brnovich’s lawsuit against the state Board of Regents over tuition costs.

Brnovich’s 2017 lawsuit contends that a series of tuition increases approved by the regents violated a state constitutional mandate for university tuition to be “as nearly free as possible,” while the regents successfully argued in the lower court that Brnovich lacked authority to sue the regents over the tuition issue.

Brnovich appealed to the Supreme Court after the Court of Appeals upheld a trial judge’s dismissal of the suit.

A central issue to be decided is the applicability of a 1960 ruling by the Supreme Court that limited the ability of the state attorney general to pursue litigation against a state agency.

Numerous current and former attorneys general from various states urged the Arizona court to rule for Brnovich, while the regents drew support from a bipartisan coalition of government officials and groups representing businesses and municipal governments.

Because of the coronavirus outbreak, lawyers argued through videoconferencing.

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