A federal judge has ruled in favor of Tennessee’s Green and Constitution parties’ joint lawsuit in a U.S. District Court in Nashville that claimed laws on the books violated the state constitution by making it unreasonably hard for third parties to get their names on the ballots, reports the Johnson City Press.
The decision says both the Green and Constitutional parties can have their names on Tennessee’s 2012 ballot with their candidates. It also strikes down a state law declaring that the majority party’s candidates are listed first on the ballot. “This is a great victory for voters in the state, because now we’ve made it easier for new parties to form,” said Alan Woodruff, a Johnson City attorney who announced his plans to represent the parties during a visit to the Johnson City Press last summer. “This ruling removes limitations and gives people an option. I believe in democracy and that everybody that has something to say should be on the ballot.”
(Note: The full 90-page ruling is available HERE) Woodruff, a Democrat running against U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, said that though he is affiliated with a major party, he got involved in the suit to fight for equity for all parties.
On Feb. 3, Judge William J. Haynes Jr. ruled in favor of claims by the plaintiffs and against Deputy Attorney General Janet Kleinfelter and defendants Tre Harget, secretary of state, and Mark Goins, coordinator of elections.
Both the Green and Constitution parties are recognized by state law as a “minor” parties, which, by definition means they are required to file a nominating petition with the state’s coordinator of elections. That petition must bear the signatures of a minimum of at least 2.5 percent of the total number of votes cast for gubernatorial candidates in the most recent election for governor.
Haynes wrote in his Feb. 3 order and/or judgment that he agreed with plaintiffs that that mark gives Goins leeway to raise the number at his discretion and therefore was “unconstitutionally vague, and imposes impermissible burdens on Plaintiff’s First Amendment right to associate as a political party.”
For a “minor” political party to get its name on the Tennessee ballot in 2012, more than 40,000 signatures would have to be collected by April 5. This law has not applied to the Republican and Democrat, or “major,” parties.
Haynes wrote in his opinion that the deadline was too early and unconstitutional, and that a more reasonable number of signatures for the nominating petition would be 10,000. This will need to be settled in the General Assembly.
“Any deadline in excess of 60 days prior to the August primary for the filing of petitions for recognition as a political party is unenforceable,” he wrote.
Haynes also declared that minor parties cannot be required to conduct primaries, which currently is state law. Woodruff has claimed that primaries are much too expensive, especially for smaller parties, and that nominating conventions would help relieve that burden.
The judge also enjoined the state from banning the words “independent” and “non-partisan” in a party’s name as it appears on a ballot, stating it violated the First Amendment rights of free speech.
He also said the state’s requirement that major parties be listed highest on ballots followed by minor parties and independents was unlawful, saying this is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause in the Forth Amendment. He also ordered the state to hold a random drawing regarding the order of party names.
He also ruled against current state law that requires signatures on nominating petitions to be accompanied by party affiliation, stating this also violated First Amendment rights to privacy and political beliefs.
(Note: The state’s attorneys can appeal the decision. Meanwhile, a “caption bill” pending in the Legislature could be amended to make changes in the current law in accord with the judge’s ruling.)
Barely 72 hours after longtime Democratic state Sen. Joe Haynes announced he wouldn’t run for re-election, a gaggle of local politicos from both sides of the aisle confirmed Monday they are considering running for his open District 20 seat.
More from the City Paper: Among Democrats pondering runs are At-large Councilmen Tim Garrett, Ronnie Steine, rookie District 4 Councilman Brady Banks and former At-large Councilman David Briley, a Nashville attorney who ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Nashville in 2007….Attorney Kevin Doherty is also exploring a Democratic run, according to multiple sources.
On the Republican-side confirmations are fewer, but interest is expected to pick up. Steve Dickerson, a physician who lost to Democratic state Sen. Douglas Henry in 2010, has already announced his Republican candidacy for the District 20 senate seat.
Meanwhile, former Councilman Eric Crafton, who lost a bid for an at-large council seat in the fall, confirmed Monday he’s considering running as a Republican for Haynes’ seat.
Statement from Sen. Joe Haynes, D-Nashville:
In 1984, I made a decision to run for the Tennessee State Senate. Little did I know when I made that decision that some 28 years later I would still be serving in that body.
Today, I am faced with a decision about whether or not to offer myself for re-election
to continue my service.
There is an interesting symmetry in the circumstances surrounding the decision I had
to make in 1984 and the decision I face in 2012. In 1984, the ruling Democratic majority literally changed the district to exclude my home in an attempt to protect a Democratic incumbent. This year, the ruling Republican majority has radically changed my district in an attempt to draw a district more favorable to a Republican candidate.
In 1984, the incumbent state senator I was intent on challenging walked out of the room where the district was changed and defended the action as “The American Way.” The gerrymander of the district backfired after my wife, Barbara, and I moved from our home into a tiny apartment and ran the campaign by focusing on the theme of “The American Way.” The crass manipulation of the district by the political insiders struck a chord with voters and I defeated the incumbent state senator and went on to win the general election. Interestingly enough, I eventually became the Chairman of the same Senate Democratic Caucus that voted to draw my home out of the senate district.
This year, in spite of their best efforts, the Republican majority has drawn a new district that I am confident I can win. I have always worked closely with Democrats, Republicans and Independents to create legislation and support public policies that were best for Tennessee. The secretive process used by the Republican majority to draw legislative districts, without consultation of Democrats or concern for historical district lines or communities of mutual interest, was offensive to my sense of fair play. My decision about whether to run or not was not influenced by the change in the district. If anything, the Republican majority succeeded in stirring my competitive juices which encouraged me to run for another term.
My service, however, has never been about me and my political ego. During my life of public service, 12 years on the Goodlettsville City Commission and 28 years in the Tennessee State Senate, I have always tried to hold true to “The American Way.” The ideas and ideals that make up this great republic have been my guide. Life. Liberty. The Pursuit of Happiness. The Rule of Law. Fairness. Honesty. Justice. Mercy. These are all parts of “The American Way.” That’s always been why I ran for office. That’s always been why I served.
I have sought simply to serve the people, to represent them with governors of both parties and to stand on the floor of the Tennessee State Senate to give a voice to the voiceless. I sought to provide representation to the men and women who work hard and play by the rules. I fought to create strong schools for our children. I have voted for fair taxation and efficient government. I have helped build roads and bridges all over Tennessee. I have done my part to support higher education as we built splendid colleges, universities and technical schools in every part of Tennessee. I worked with my wife, Barbara, to reform criminal sentencing in Tennessee to make it fairer and more rational. Through my service I have battled to care for the sick, feed and clothe the needy and protect the weak, elderly and infirm.
I am in good health. I work out several times a week and take great joy in the time I have with my wife Barbara, who recently retired from the bench, and our children, Jeff, Mandy and Scott and their spouses. Barbara and I have been blessed with grandchildren and we enjoy the embrace of our large, loving family.
The sweet siren call of my family, a huge stack of unread books and a little-used fishing boat demand my attention now. That is why I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for the Tennessee State Senate in 2012. I will serve out my term and continue my fight for “The American Way.” I will continue to practice law in the law firm I founded 46 years ago.
I have fought the good fight. I have run the race. I have given over a substantial part of my life to the pursuit of “The American Way” for myself and for those whom it has been my privilege to represent. I am proud of my service and humbled by the confidence the people have placed in me time and time again.
News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
(NASHVILLE, TN), January 19, 2012 — State Senator Ken Yager (R-Harriman) and Representative Ryan Haynes (R-Knoxville) today announced they have filed legislation to disqualify elected or appointed officials from receiving judicial diversion for crimes committed during their term of office.
Judicial diversion is the process in criminal law when a person pleads guilty to a crime and can later have the charge removed (or expunged) from their record following a period of probation. It is granted by the judge, hence its name “judicial.”
“The public office is a public trust,” said Senator Yager, who is Chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee. “Public officials ought to be held to a higher standard.”
A person is eligible for judicial diversion in Tennessee if they do not have a previous class A misdemeanor, felony conviction, or never received diversion or had their record expunged before. Those charged with a class A felony, a class B felony, a sexual offense, or a DUI are not eligible for judicial diversion under state law. Senate Bill 2566 would simply add a criminal offense committed by an official in the executive, legislative or judicial branch to the list of those which are ineligible for judicial diversion, if the crime was committed in their official capacity or involve the duties of their office.
“Accountability is a term that is thrown around a lot in public service these days. Unfortunately, not many take it seriously and that has to change,” said Haynes. “A law like this would go a long way towards restoring the faith Tennesseans once had in their elected officials. We must hold ourselves to a higher standard and I think this is a strong first step towards raising the bar in Tennessee.”
“Criminal acts conducted by public officials during the course of duty should not be eligible for judicial diversion. We must hold our public officials accountable for the trust they have been given. This legislation helps ensure that,” Yager concluded.
U.S. District Judge William J. Haynes Jr. openly bristled Monday at a deputy attorney general’s attempts to defend restrictions on ballot access for small political parties in Tennessee, reports The Tennessean.
He threw out the restrictions less than 16 months ago and the Legislature responded by amending the law to lessen the restrictions. But third parties still have more hurdles to clear than Democrats or Republicans and the new, revised law is now before Haynes for another court challenge While his annoyance was clear, Haynes did not rule on the Green and Constitution parties’ request for summary judgment in their favor after 90 minutes of oral arguments, choosing instead to take the matter under advisement. The alternative political parties sued the state in July and argue that state laws make it unconstitutionally hard for third parties to get their names on the ballot in Tennessee.
….Alan P. Woodruff, a Johnson City attorney and Democratic congressional candidate representing the third parties, told the judge that his clients have basically been denied ballot access by a requirement thehy collect more than 40,000 signatures in April to have party identity of a candidate listed on the statewide ballot. He estimated that collecting the signatures would cost $120,000.
….Haynes asked some questions but mostly listened quietly as Woodruff laid out his case. His mood changed drastically when Deputy Attorney General Janet Kleinfelter went to the podium, and he chastised the state for making arguments in defense of the new state laws that it had not presented in the previous case.
“I wish I didn’t read your brief,” Haynes said. “I’m wasting my time.”
Moving past the technical issues, Haynes noted that higher court rulings suggest the state’s deadline is unconstitutionally early, and he pressed the state to explain why it needs so much time.
“It’s a lot more complicated than it looks on paper,” responded Kleinfelter, who noted the long list of administrative tasks state and local election officials must complete and the legal requirements they must follow.
Tennessee Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins attended Monday’s hearing.
“At the end of the day, we have to comply with the MOVE Act,” he said afterward, noting that another minor party, Americans Elect, is on track to comply with state requirements. “If that deadline changes, we’re going to have a hard time doing that.”
Knox County commissioners have unanimously signed off on a resolution to notify local legislators they oppose any changes to Tennessee’s Open Meetings Act, reports the News Sentinel. “I think it’s something we need to do, based on past history,” commission Chairman Mike Hammond said, referring to Black Wednesday when commissioners in January 2007 cut deals to replace some elected officials with friends, family and cronies.
The board of directors of the Tennessee County Commissioners Association recently voted to urge that state legislators revise current law so that members of local governing bodies can meet and discuss issues in private provided no quorum is present.
“I hate to make a prediction because anything can happen, but I don’t think this has the legs to pass,” said local delegation chairman and state Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, who doesn’t support weakening the law.
State Rep. Glen Casada, R-College Grove, has said he will sponsor the proposed change in the present statute, also known as “the Sunshine Law,” at the request of the Williamson County Commission. His home county’s commission unanimously approved a resolution urging the revision.
reports Mike Donila, So now they want to make sure the money used to operate the aging facility stays in East Tennessee. “Is it a done deal? No, nothing is until the Legislature approves it, but I think we’re kidding ourselves if we don’t think that it’s on its way,” said state Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville. “My big concern is to make sure the money stays here. There’s nothing in the code that says it has to.”
Haynes, the chairman of the Knox County Legislative Delegation, said he will introduce a proposal in mid-January that, if approved, would ensure that the state money allocated to Lakeshore goes to area programs, something Gov. Bill Haslam said would be the case. Haynes, though, is concerned that “when the next administration comes in I want people to remember that the money has been earmarked for East Tennessee.”
County commissioners on Monday agreed with the state lawmaker and also unanimously approved a resolution to ask the local delegation to see whether it could convince the state to hold off on closing the operation. Officials also said they wanted a detailed copy of whatever plan the state wants to implement
News release from House Speaker Beth Harwell’s Office:
(November 14, 2011, NASHVILLE) – House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) today announced the appointment of Representative Bob Ramsey (R-Maryville) as Chairman of the House State and Local Government Committee. Ramsey previously served as Vice-Chairman of the committee.
“Bob Ramsey will do an excellent job as Chairman of the State and Local Government Committee,” said Speaker Harwell. “His past experience as Chairman of the Blount County Commission will benefit the committee tremendously, and I look forward to working closely with him next year.”
Speaker Harwell also announced the appointment of Representative Ryan Haynes (R-Knoxville) as Vice-Chairman of the full committee, meaning that he will serve as Chairman of the State and Local Government Subcommittee.
“Rep. Haynes will be an asset to Chairman Ramsey as Vice-Chairman of the full committee, and Chairman of the Subcommittee,” said Harwell. “Rep. Ramsey and Rep. Haynes have both the skills and passion to guide the committees through the remainder of the 107th General Assembly,” Speaker Harwell stated.
The House State and Local Government Committee is often referred complex legislation addressing such matters as local and municipal affairs, powers to tax and raise revenue, local ordinances, local government employees, local government expenditures, and election laws.
(Note: The changes were triggered by the resignation of Rep. Curry Todd as chairman of S&L following his arrest on drunken driving and gun charges.)
News release from Administrative Office of the Courts:
Nashville, Tenn. – Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Barbara Haynes announced her retirement today after serving on the bench for 29 years. Her retirement will take effect on November 15.
Haynes began her judicial career in 1982 as a Davidson County General Sessions Court judge. In 1990, Haynes was elected circuit court judge in the 20st Judicial District, which serves Davidson County.
Prior to taking the bench, Haynes was a partner at the law firm of Haynes and Haynes. She also served as a legal assistant on a congressional staff.
The organizer of a trip by 15 state legislators to China this summer says he returned with a “verbal commitment” from Chinese officials to match up to $5 million in state money for establishing educational ties between the nation and Tennessee.
The lawmakers, including Reps. Ryan Haynes and Harry Tindell of Knoxville, spent 10 days touring the Asian nation last month.
In interviews, several said they were impressed by the extraordinary amount of construction under way and by the extraordinary amount of pollution. They offered mixed reviews on other matters, including the quality of the food they were served.
The legislators were responsible for paying their own airfare and related expenses, which two said was about $2,500. Once in China, their food, travel and lodging costs were covered by Hanban, a branch of the Chinese government, said Rep. Jim Coley, R-Bartlett, who organized the trip. Some said they used campaign funds to cover their portion of the cost.