/Reeves backs Gunn in bill reading suit

Reeves backs Gunn in bill reading suit

Reeves’ legal brief, R-Florence, states that the judicial branch shouldn’t interfere with the legislative procedures set out in the Mississippi Constitution. Jay Hughes, a Democratic Representative from Oxford, filed suit on March 24, to stop Speaker Philip Gunn (R-Clinton) reading the text of bills with a computer program at an uncomprehensible speed. The brief for Reeves states that “Separation, which is quite literally the first and most important object of the Mississippi Constitution,” holds that no branch “ought to possess directly or indirectly an overruling influence over others in the administrations of their respective powers.” The brief states that “For over one hundred years, this Court has refused to intervene in disputes regarding the Legislature’s internal procedures, leaving those matters to the members.” “The Speaker of Mississippi House of Representatives deserves this historical deference today.” House rules allow any member to ask the clerk to read aloud bills. This tactic is used to slow down the House’s action. A machine has been used to read bills aloud, replacing the clerk in recent years. Several Democrats requested that bills be read during the regular session this year as a protest against Gunn’s actions, which included steps that would have prevented them from participating in the legislative process. Gunn ordered House clerks speed up the automatic readings until it was incomprehensible. Winston Kidd, Hinds County Circuit Judge, sided with Hughes and issued a temporary restraining or against Gunn. This forced the speaker to reduce the speed of the automated readings. The state’s highest court, however, dissolved the order without explanation. Gunn was allowed to increase the speed of the readings and Kidd’s order was stayed. Reeves’ “friend-of-the court” brief refers to more than 20 cases and more that a dozen sections in the Mississippi Constitution as reasons for dropping the lawsuit. The brief was submitted by Butler Snow law firm on behalf of the lieutenant- governor. On July 9, Hughes and Gunn will be argued before the Supreme Court.