Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sen. Terry Burton's position, summarized

I've had a chance to glance through Sen. Terry Burton's various court filings in NAACP v. Haley Barbour, et al, and here's what he wants:

Intervention - Burton wants to be allowed to become a party to the suit so that he can have a seat at the table as the litigation moves forward. He, like the other successful intervenors before him, asks for both permissive intervention and intervention as of right. I believe he has a protectable interest in this litigation, and that his intervention should and will be granted.

Declaratory Judgment - Burton asks the court, in a counterclaim, to find that the Senate should be allowed to proceed to elections this year under the Burton plan. The reasoning is that the Burton Senate map passed both chambers, but didn't become law because of the House plan that was attached to it. It's an inventive argument, but one I believe destined to failure. If the court is to accept Burton's logic here, that the Burton plan's procedural death should be ignored, then the court must ask itself how far to take that logic. As the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 calls for the plans to be passed as a joint resolution, the court could just as easily allow both the House and Senate to run under the plans that passed each body. While that would be the easy path for the court, I do not believe that to be the court's task here. As I understand precedent in this area, the court does not get to make value judgments on proposed but not passed maps. The court gets to make a determination as to whether the current maps are unconstitutionally malapportioned. Then the court gets to assemble new maps with mathematically insignificant population deviation, and cannot take party or incumbent protection into account. That ties the court's hands and prevents them from choosing a plan with deviation north of 1-2%, which precludes the court from picking any current plan of which I am aware.


Josh said...

Who is paying for Sen. Burton's legal counsel? He is not a lawyer so someone had to draft this of him.

Taxpayer dollars?

3rd party contribution?

Is that reportable?

Who would have such an interest that they would pay for a state senator's attorneys fees? Someone should be asking these questions. The same questions should be asked of Rep. Tommy Reynolds too. Who is is paying for his attorney(s)?

Cottonmouth said...

Josh, I guess we'll find out when the campaign finance reports are filed.

michael said...

Has anyone been able to verify the question by Josh? If state funds are being used to pay for legal representation of Sen. Burton, then we have a right to know. If some third party is paying for his legal fees and representation in meetings regarding redistricting, then the third party should make their intentions known.

The question comes down to whose interest is Sen. Burton representing? His own? The Senate’s? Or some third party using this to gain access to the process and manipulate the proceedings of the court?

I would like to think that both Burton and his attorney Andy Taggart are too wise to be used, but as Josh stated “Something doesn’t smell right.”