Sunday, September 24, 2006

Tennessean article: Constitutionality of Amendment

HERE is today's Tennessean article on opinions about the constitutionality of our proposed Metro Charter Amendment #1. Its a good article which presents lots of good info but I would like to add the following paragraph which comes from the Tennessee Supreme Court decision in March 2006 on term limits which overturned an appeals court decision. This paragraph is the heart of the decision where the court clearly states that the chartered form of county government allows the people to determine how their government is structured. Any reasonable reading of this opinion would indicate our proposed charter amendment is clearly constitutional.
Furthermore, we note that Article I, section 1, of Tennessee’s constitution provides that the people have an “unalienable and indefeasible right to alter, reform, or abolish the government in such manner as they may think proper.” The constitution is the truest expression of the will of the people, and it is their intent in adopting a constitutional provision that must prevail. See Williams v. Carr, 404 S.W.2d 522, 526 (Tenn. 1966). Accepting the plaintiffs’ position in this case would require us to ignore the fundamental principle of self-government embodied in Article I, section 1. This we are not willing to do. Instead, we continue to adhere to the principle that “the constitution does not mandate a uniform structure of county governments across the state. It specifically authorizes legislation creating different forms of local” government, and the “General Assembly has very broad powers and discretion” in this regard. Leech, 588 S.W.2d at 272. Although the plaintiffs argue that such an approach to Article VII “invites chaos,” we are aware of no evidence to support such a conclusion, and none has been cited to us.