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December 29, 2004

Judge goes too far in 37th District Senate race.

Republican Dana Seum Stephenson won the 37th District Senate race, but a Franklin County Circuit Judge ordered the Kentucky Board of Elections to certify her opponent, Democrat Virginia Woodward, the winner. The judge went too far with his order.

Apparently there is nothing that forbids a person who may not serve in an office to run for it in either the Constitution or the Kentucky Revised Statutes . Nor is there any provision in either to allow the runner-up to take the office by default. Ms. Woodward did not win the election. She lost by about 1000 votes. The judge should have stayed out of it.

If Ms. Stephenson were otherwise eligible to serve in office, but died before being sworn in, Ms. Woodward would not normally be considered to take her place. In this instance, would it be reasonable for a Franklin Circuit Judge to order Ms. Woodward be sworn into office? No, it would not. The responsibility for that decision rests with the Senate.

The Constitutional authority of the Senate to choose who it will seat is clear. Subject only to the Constitution and itself, the Senate must be the ultimate arbiter in this race. Though many may say Ms. Stephenson is not eligible to serve, residency in Kentucky is a fluid concept, defined differently in several statutes. We shall see which definition the Senate prefers.

The Senate is unlikely to seat Ms. Woodward. To do so would ignore the expressed will of the voters of the 37th District. We shall see.
GBW

1 comment:

Genghis said...

Now a judge has sworn her in as Senator. But it gets worse:

Woodward said Circuit Judge Stephen Ryan swore her in at 12:38 a.m. at her home in southern Louisville. Courier-Journal 1/2/05 Section B p.1.

So now the judges make house calls? In the middle of the night?

head