Legal opinions issued by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and the Louisiana Supreme Court claim that Lafayette Consolidated Government violated the suffrage rights of its citizens. These opinions also declare the State Supreme Court complicit in denying citizens their right to self-government. If you live in Lafayette Parish and, like Supreme Court Justice Jimmy Genovese and Third Circuit Court of Appeals Judge John Saunders, believe that your voting rights have been quashed by local elected officials and the courts, then be aware that the Louisiana justice system’s failures are not final. You may still appeal to the United States government for help. Click here to take action now.
One man, one vote?
An interesting component of Supreme Court Justice Jimmy Genovese’s opining covered our country’s long-standing belief in “one man one vote.” Specifically, he said, “now, some voters can vote twice. What about the jurisprudential concept and legal requirement of ‘one man, one vote’?” In fact, as has been pointed out to us, the Lafayette Home Rule Charter lays out a plan by which city residents now have double representation inside Lafayette Consolidated Government’s legislative branch.
This is literally the second item in the Home Rule Charter! Article I Section 2 states, “The plan of government provided by this home rule charter shall be known as the ‘President-Council’ form of government. It shall consist of an elected City Council which shall be called the Lafayette City Council and an elected Parish Council which shall be called the Lafayette Parish Council. The Lafayette City Council and Lafayette Parish Council, jointly, shall constitute the legislative branch of the Lafayette City-Parish Consolidated Government.”
By that definition, the residents of the City of Lafayette have double-representation on the Lafayette Consolidated Government. For example, no municipality except the City of Lafayette gets a vote on the Lafayette Parish budget. Broussard doesn’t. Youngsville doesn’t. Duson doesn’t. Scott doesn’t. Carencro doesn’t. Article II, Section 1(C) goes on to say that all “legislative power of the City-Parish Government shall be vested jointly in the City Council and the Parish Council.” All told, the Home Rule Charter mentions “joint” or “jointly” at least 54 times.
So what’s a concerned citizen to do?
Option 1: Hire an attorney
While this option is potentially the most expensive, it could end up being free. It also guarantees that you will at least get a hearing in federal court. The challenge comes in finding an attorney and paying his retainer. The average seems to be about $5,000 just to get started, but will grow as you follow the process and have time in court. The good news is the federal government will cover your attorney fees if you’re victorious. So, it’s entirely possible to find an attorney willing to take the case, at no cost to you, in the hope of recovering substantial legal fees.
Option 2: Ask the US Civil Rights Division to intervene
While this option is free regardless of outcome, there’s no guarantee you’ll have your day in court. However, you can take advantage of this option right now without having to talk to anyone. If enough people register a complaint, the US Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division should take action. According to section 8-11 of the home rule charter, if that happens, the council will have to convene a Charter Commission and submit corrections to voters (like they should have done in the first place).
Below, we’ve preformatted the complaint form for easy submission. Simply fill in the pertinent details, make any additions or changes you’d like, and tap the “submit” button. Using this method will allow us to keep a tally of how many area residents submit a complaint. So far, that number is 66. It will also immediately transmit a copy of the form to the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice. If you’d prefer to submit one directly on the DOJ website, you may do so here.