Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Mississippi State Representative House Speaker v. Hughes

Supreme Court of Mississippi, En Banc

February 9, 2017

MISSISSIPPI STATE REPRESENTATIVE HOUSE SPEAKER, PHILIP A. GUNN
v.
REPRESENTATIVE J. P. HUGHES, JR.

          DATE OF JUDGMENT: 03/23/2016

         HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT HON. WINSTON L. KIDD

          TRIAL COURT ATTORNEYS: MICHAEL B. WALLACE REBECCA L. HAWKINS CHARLES EDWARD COWAN SIDNEY RAY HILL, III

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT: MICHAEL B. WALLACE REBECCA L. HAWKINS CHARLES EDWARD COWAN

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: SIDNEY RAY HILL, III

          DICKINSON, PRESIDING JUSTICE

         ¶1. This case tests the limits of our judicial power to review the manner in which the Legislature carries out its procedural constitutional responsibilities. Article 4, Section 59 of the Mississippi Constitution provides that in the Mississippi Legislature "every bill shall be read in full immediately before the vote on its final passage upon the demand of any member." When J. P. Hughes Jr., a member of the Legislature, requested that certain bills be read as required by that article, Speaker Phlip Gunn had the bills read by a machine at a speed that Rep. Hughes claims was incomprehensible and therefore a constitutional violation, leading him to file suit to stop the practice. We granted interlocutory appeal and now hold that we are without constitutional authority to resolve this dispute. We remand this case to the circuit court with instructions to dismiss the petition.

         FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         ¶2. On March 23, 2016, Rep. Hughes filed a petition against Speaker Gunn in the circuit court, seeking a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction, and, alternatively, a writ of mandamus. Rep. Hughes's petition asked the circuit judge to order the Speaker's compliance-by injunction or writ of mandamus-with Article 4, Section 59 of the Mississippi Constitution, which states "every bill shall be read in full immediately before the vote on its final passage upon the demand of any member." In his petition, Rep. Hughes acknowledges that Speaker Gunn had recognized members' requests to have bills read under Article 4, Section 59, but in doing so, he had

only partially obliged that request by having the words of the bills read by an electronic device (set on the highest speed adjustment, #10) such that the same is being read artificially and so quickly that no human ear nor mind can comprehend the words of the bills.

         ¶3. After finding that the circuit court had jurisdiction to resolve the dispute, a Hinds

         County circuit judge granted a temporary restraining order which stated that

the Respondent shall, consistent with Article 59 of the Mississippi Constitution, read or cause to be read all bills presented to the House of Representatives in a normal speed and audible level comprehensive lever [sic] so that each member of the House of Representatives has an opportunity to hear and understand each word of each such properly requested reading.

         ¶4. The order also set a hearing for March 28, 2016, but the next day, the Speaker moved to dissolve the temporary restraining order, arguing that he had complied with Article 5, Section 59; that Rep. Hughes had failed to satisfy several requirements to obtain a temporary restraining order ex parte; and that judicial intervention into the legislative matter was inappropriate.

         ¶5. That same day, the Speaker filed in this Court a petition for interlocutory appeal, or for writ of mandamus or prohibition from the circuit court's temporary restraining order, arguing that Rep. Hughes had failed to satisfy the requirements to obtain an ex parte temporary restraining order, and that this Court should order the circuit court "to restrain the exercise of its supposed jurisdiction in contravention of the separation of powers doctrine embodied in Miss. Const. Art. 1 §§ 1-2 (1890)."

         ¶6. On March 24, 2016, we dissolved the temporary restraining order and stayed all proceedings in the circuit court, and we ordered Rep. Hughes to respond to the Speaker's petition for interlocutory appeal, which he did. We then granted interlocutory appeal to "address (1) whether the judiciary has jurisdiction over this dispute in light of Sections 1 and 2, Article I of the Mississippi Constitution, and/or (2) whether this Court should refrain from exercising its jurisdiction over the issues raised in this matter."

         ANALYSIS

         ¶7. The Mississippi Constitution's first section states that "[t]he powers of the government of the State of Mississippi shall be divided into three distinct departments, and each of them confided to a separate magistracy, to-wit: those which are legislative to one, those which are judicial to another, and those which are executive to another."[1] Its second section states that "[n]o person or collection of persons, being one or belonging to one of these departments, shall exercise any power properly belonging to either of the others."[2] The jurisdictional question presented is whether judicial intervention in this dispute would be an encroachment on a power conferred upon the Legislature in violation of Article 1, Section 2.

         ¶8. Rep. Hughes claims the Speaker has failed to comply with the requirements of Article 4, Section 59 of the Mississippi Constitution. He asks the judiciary to order the Speaker's compliance through injunctive relief. But we hold that this Court lacks constitutional authority to interfere in the procedural workings of the Legislature, even when those procedures are constitutionally mandated. This limitation on our power has been recognized by this Court for more than a century.[3]

         ¶9. In Hunt v. Wright, we recognized that our power to review statutes for constitutional infirmity "commences after the termination of legislative action."[4] In doing so, the Hunt Court made clear that the judiciary is "not an overseer of the legislature during its labors, but [this Court] takes its completed work, and tries it by the constitution, starting with the conclusive and irrebuttable presumption that as to all the requirements of that instrument they who swore to observe it did it."[5]

         ¶10. While this case concerns a request for injunctive relief to order the Speaker to carry out a constitutional procedural requirement, not a request to invalidate a statute for some constitutional procedural defect in its enactment, Hunt recognizes that the Legislature possesses exclusive power over its own procedures.

         ¶11. The Hunt decision relied on this Court's opinion in Ex parte Wren-decided before the adoption of our present Constitution-which unequivocally held that the judiciary lacks any constitutional ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.