Apr 10, 2023 - Politics

Judges temporarily block state law that would shrink Metro Council

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

A three-judge panel temporarily blocked a state law that would have shrunk Nashville's Metro Council, in a ruling released Monday.

Why it matters: The temporary injunction, which is likely to be appealed, means the Metro Council remains 40 members and the law will not take effect before the Aug. 3 election.

What they're saying: "There is a compelling public interest in preserving the integrity of the Metro election process that is already underway," the three judges wrote in their order.

  • "The court finds the implementation of the Act and its reduction provisions at this late date results in upheaval of the election process, risks voter confusion, and potentially comprises the integrity of Davidson County's August 3, 2023 general election."

Flashback: Republican lawmakers passed a law that limits the number of council members a Metropolitan form of government can have to 20. They pursued the law after the council rejected a plan for Nashville to host the Republican National Convention in 2024.

  • Although the law applies to all of Tennessee, Nashville has the only council with more than 20 members.

State of play: Metro lawyers argued this provision of the law is illegal since the Tennessee constitution requires council elections to take place every four years. They said the new law would create political chaos since the upcoming August election is well underway.

  • Metro also argued the law is illegal since it seems to single out Nashville.
  • State lawyers said there is a presumption of constitutionality when the state legislature acts. They said although Nashville is the only city impacted by the law, it should pass legal muster since it applies to the entire state.

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