Metropolitan Nashville Law Director Wally Dietz, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the city in response to legislation to cut the city’s city council in half on March 13.
“The Metropolitan Government filed a lawsuit seeking to enjoin the enforcement of the Metropolitan Council reduction act that was passed by the legislature last week,” said Deitz. “We are seeking an injunction and asking the court to move expeditiously.”
Deitz called the action the “most important lawsuit in the history of the Metropolitan Government.”
According to Deitz, the legislation comes at a time when it is too late to change the rules for an election season that has already begun. It also violates that Tennessee Constitution.
“House Bill 48 and Senate Bill 87, as passed, contain several serious legal defects which will make them impossible to legally implement,” said Deitz in a released statement.
“First, there is simply not enough time to change the law this late in the election cycle. Over 40 candidates have already appointed treasurers and are actively raising money for Council Districts that ostensibly will no longer exist. Petitions are to be issued a week from Monday. The qualifying deadline is May 18. Even if the Planning Commission prepares a map and the current Metro Council passes a redistricting plan by May 1, the confusion and uncertainty that follows will be prime for legal challenges from a range of affected parties.
“More fundamentally, these bills violate the Tennessee Constitution in multiple ways. A number of Metro leaders and advisors, including Mayor Cooper, attempted to point out the legal defects to the legislature and state leaders before either body voted, but those warnings were largely ignored.
“Additionally, the legislature rejected an amendment that would have cured one of the most significant flaws, by allowing the voters in Metropolitan Nashville to have a straight up or down vote on a smaller Metro Council and postpone any change until voters approved the change. That suggestion, among others, to make these bills workable was rejected.
“This attack on the constitutional rights of Metro and the people who live here is very dangerous. It serves the interests of no one—not the state of Tennessee, not the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.
Councilwoman at-Large Sharon Hurt, also responded to the legislation saying: “In a 2015 referendum, the voters of Nashville clearly stated that they did not want to reduce the number of representatives in the Metro Council.”
According to Hurt, the Tennessee State Legislature “ignored the voters of Nashville” with a decision that will “harm marginalized individuals, working-class communities, and communities of color the most by concentrating influence on those with the most financial and political capital.”