Thursday, October 11, 2007

Hollow: Law is unfair, make it go away!

One thing that can quickly be gleaned from The Knoxville News-Sentinel in their suit against the Knox County Commission is that they are not merely happy with the verdict or the Chancellor's ruling. Instead, they want the law applied fairly and equally-unless of course they don't happen to agree with it:

“Quit standing in the way [of a Special Election],” Hollow said. “We have a governmental crisis. Help us figure out a way to do this.”

Thompson shot back, “I’m not standing in the way of anything other than trying to enforce the laws as they’re written.”

There is no question that a Special Election would be ideal, but the Tennessee Constitution is so crystal clear about the point that vacancies on county legislative bodies which occur in the middle of terms are to be filled by appointment that there is simply no getting around that reality. Hollow and McElroy are in fact asking for a way around the law-they do not believe the law is fair, and so the law should not apply. That is dangerous constitutional reasoning, and that kind of thinking is how we have federal judges reading umbras into penubras and creating rights that don't exist, and State judges going well beyond the framers of 1796, 1835, and 1870 to create law that previously did not exist out of thin air.

When Don Bosch and I are in agreement that there is really no present legal avenue to allow for a Special Election in Knox County, you can bet the ranch that there is probably some truth to that reality.

That does not mean that there should not be a Special Election under ideal circumstances. If the legal mechanisms existed for one, I would say that one ought to be called at the earliest possible date. Unfortunately for Knox County, the rules just do not allow for that short of a Private Act of the General Assembly-which is in recess until January, and by then we are one month away from the Primary, and the Act will be useless.

If there is one thing this case has brought to the forefront it is a need for an amendment to the Tennessee Constitution that would allow for a Special Election at the earliest possible date to fill vacancies in county offices. The Assembly could take that up in January, and I am certain it would have wide public support. Everyone needs to get it through their head, however, that the change would not take effect until the people vote on it in November 2010.

In the meantime, the law is what it is, and it must be followed in the best and the fairest manner possible.



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