PHOENIX - The U.S. Supreme Court could end up taking up the legality of Arizona's SB 1070 immigration law on Wednesday without its author in the audience.
Former state Sen. Russell Pearce told Capitol Media Services he had asked Joe Sciarrotta, chief legal counsel to Gov. Jan Brewer, if she would give him one of the seats she has been allocated by virtue of her status as the petitioner in the case. The request has precedent: Pearce got to sit with the governor in 2010 when the high court reviewed Arizona's employer-sanctions law.
But this time his request was rebuffed.
"A handful of seats have been allotted for the governor's attendees, including her legal team and senior staff members," said Brewer press aide Matthew Benson.
Benson won't say how many seats, nor disclose a full list of whom Brewer wants near her, during the hour-long argument - that is, besides aide Kim Sabow, Sciarrotta and Benson.
Benson scoffed at the idea that Pearce, a former state Senate president who was recalled, needs to be there.
"And the case falls apart without him, right?" he asked.
That has left Pearce having to stand in line with the general public or find someone else to hold a spot for him. "That's iffy," he acknowledged.
He was disappointed that his requests to Sciarrotta were ignored. He even tried calling Brewer on her cellphone.
She did not pick up.
"It's my bill," Pearce said. "It took years to get it passed."
Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever is getting a seat. He said the legal team that filed a friend-of-the-court brief on his behalf in defense of SB 1070 received tickets allocated by the court.
"I've been fighting this fight too long just to sit on the sidelines and wait and see what happens," he said.
"We've invested a lot of time and energy. I think it's appropriate to be there to watch the proceedings."