Voters' say could be void if municipal school voting ruled uncon - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Voters' say could be void if municipal school voting ruled unconstitutional

(WMC-TV) - The municipal schools issue was back in court Friday as people head to the polls for a vote the may or may not count.

Friday was the first day of early voting on a municipal schools referendum.

The voters will decide whether suburban districts should be allowed to form their own school districts. But their votes may be meaningless after two federal trials challenge whether the vote is legal.

While voters exercised their rights, lawyers were back in federal court scheduling the next chapter in the legal fight that could void their votes.

The first of two federal trials to decide whether municipal school districts violate state and federal laws will begin September 4.

"We think we'll be able to show that there are other counties that could fall within the classification of the statute and if we're successful of convincing the court on that we should prevail on thatj," said Tom Cates, attorney for the municipalities.

On November 6, the court will take up claims by the Shelby County Commission that municipal school districts violate the 14th amendment of the U.S. constitution which prohibits state and local governments from depriving persons of life, liberty, or property without certain steps being taken to ensure fairness.

Leo Bearman represents the Shelby County commission that filed the complaint.

"I don't like to discuss lawsuits while they are going on, this one is going on," he said.

There will be much more discussion ahead. The election is underway, but if it is found unconstitutional for any reason, votes on the referendum between now and Election Day (August 2) will be thrown out.

If the court rules that municipal school districts violate state law, the election will be thrown out and there will not be a need to go through with the second trial on those 14th amendment claims.

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