A lengthy legal battle over a controversial 2012 abortion law between the state of Georgia and a few physicians reached the states highest court in 2017, but the doctors objections to the law banning abortion after 20 weeks were never heard.
The state Supreme Court upheld a lower courts decision that then-Gov. Nathan Deal and the state were protected by whats known as sovereign immunity. The government, the court ruled then, must first agree to be sued in state court before someone can challenge the constitutionality of a law.
Simply put, the constitutional doctrine of sovereign immunity forbids our courts to entertain a lawsuit against the State without its consent, Justice Keith Blackwell wrote at the time.
This November, Georgians will finally decide at the ballot box whether that should change. A constitutional amendment one of two on the ballot would open up state courts to those who want to challenge the constitutionality of state and local laws. Legislators had tried without success to make the change in the past, only for two different governors to veto those attempts.
Lawmakers, though, were able to circumvent the governors office this year by pushing the change through as a constitutional amendment that puts the question in voters hands. A constitutional amendment cannot be vetoed.
The 2017 Lathrop vs. Deal ruling gave the state and local governments more latitude to use sovereign immunity as a defense against lawsuits and left the federal court as the best option to fight back in some instances. For example, physicians and abortion providers are currently challenging a 2019 abortion law in federal court.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, which represented the three physicians in the Deal lawsuit, says state and local governments should be held accountable for the laws they pass.
The doctors argued in the 2012 lawsuit that a then-new Georgia law banning abortions after 20 weeks violated the Fourth Amendment right to privacy. The Supreme Court said the state was shielded from the lawsuit because of sovereign immunity.
So-called sovereign immunity allows the government to trample on Georgians constitutional rights with reckless abandon, said Sean J. Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia. When the state violates Georgians constitutional rights, courts must be able to step in and remedy that violation.
The Deal lawsuit was one of several court cases that prompted a bipartisan group of legislators to push for legislation putting an end to the barrier.
Despite getting nearly universal support in both legislative chambers, it was twice struck down by a governors veto because of arguments that lawsuits would stifle a governments ability to function.
Kemp noted in 2019 that the public can already take legal action against state officers and employees for breach of contract and some tort claims.
Novembers ballot question will ask voters if the state constitution should be changed to put aside sovereign immunity when a legal challenge questions whether a government has exceeded its authority.
Georgians must have the legal recourse for their lawsuit to be considered by a judge if they feel the government committed an unconstitutional act, said Rep. Chuck Efstration, a Dacula Republican and co-sponsor of the measure.
If voters waive sovereign immunity, Georgians can file a lawsuit asking a judge to issue a declaratory judgment on whether the state or local government is violating a particular law. No monetary damages will be awarded if the judge rules in the residents favor.
Since the state of Georgia can already be sued in federal court for violating federal constitutional rights, its only right that state superior court judges be allowed to hear claims that state or local laws violate a persons rights, said House Minority Leaders Rep. Bob Trammell, who is a sponsor of the resolution.
If you ask most people where they would go to seek redress if the government aggrieved them, the logical answer they would give you is court, said Trammell, a Luthersville Democrat who is also an attorney.
This measure simply seeks to make sure that they have the keys to the courthouse, and that the door is open, he said.
The law of sovereign immunity dates back centuries.
The king can do no wrong so the king can only be sued when the king says he can be sued, said Atlanta attorney Scott Cahalan, who specializes in construction law and government procurement.
Tossing out sovereign immunity in these cases speeds up the process of reviewing a constitutional statute, Cahalan said.
Its much faster than if you have to wait until somebody has been harmed by it, he said.
A rash of overzealous lawsuits isnt likely to become a problem should voters back the constitutional amendment, said Rusi Patel, general counsel for the Georgia Municipal Association, which represents the states 538 cities.
If cities or counties are not following the written law, then there should be recourse, he said.
The rest is here:
- Govt That Spies Has Insatiable Appetite - KMJ Now - February 4th, 2021
- No-knock search warrants began in Wisconsin, Rep. Myers wants to end them here - Wisconsin Examiner - February 4th, 2021
- Close the Gaps - East Bay Express - February 4th, 2021
- Is Americas Approach to Cannabis Racist? Study Shows Its Worse Than You Think - GreenState - February 4th, 2021
- Federal appeals court allows reporters to sue SWAT officer who tear-gassed them during Ferguson protests - JURIST - February 4th, 2021
- Invoking Scalia, Sotomayor Presses for Broad Fourth Amendment Protections - Reason - October 30th, 2020
- EFF Files Amicus Brief Arguing That Law Enforcement Access to Wi-Fi Derived Location Data Violates the Fourth Amendment - EFF - October 30th, 2020
- Main Points Of The Fourth Amendment To Chinese Patent Law (Approved On October 17, 2020, Effective From June 1, 2021) - Intellectual Property - China... - October 30th, 2020
- Column: Michigan can bring privacy into the 21st century - The Oakland Press - October 30th, 2020
- IMPD dismissed from Dreasjon Reed lawsuit - WTHR - October 30th, 2020
- The Criminal Justice of Amy Coney Barrett - Washington Monthly - October 30th, 2020
- A guide to the statewide constitutional amendments on the ballot in November 2020 - Yellowhammer News - October 30th, 2020
- RUTHS HOSPITALITY GROUP, INC. : Entry into a Material Definitive Agreement, Creation of a Direct Financial Obligation or an Obligation under an... - October 30th, 2020
- Assembly Committee Clears Verrelli & Benson Bill Protecting Employees from Employer Tracking Device Violations - InsiderNJ - October 30th, 2020
- The tyranny of the experts - Leader & Times - October 30th, 2020
- Mike R. Galli is recognized by Continental Who's Who - PRNewswire - October 30th, 2020
- Mail Voting Litigation in 2020, Part II: Submission of Mail-In Ballots - Lawfare - October 30th, 2020
- In its 4th revision to the SEC, Palantir tries to explain what the hell is going on - TechCrunch - September 20th, 2020
- City of Pierre among South Dakota towns ordered to pay a total of $440000 because of forced catheterizations - Drgnews - September 20th, 2020
- Former Torrington officer seeks to have evidence suppressed before trial - Scottsbluff Star Herald - September 20th, 2020
- Council To Have One-Day Session To Learn About Police - The Rhino TImes - September 20th, 2020
- Things to Know Before Your Neighborhood Installs an Automated License Plate Reader - EFF - September 20th, 2020
- Attorney argues Haynes and his brother bribed witness to recant his testimony in 1999 murder case - Kankakee Daily Journal - September 20th, 2020
- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburgs Lasting Impact on U.S. Traffic Laws - The Art of Gears - September 20th, 2020
- Editorial, August 10, 2020: Your cellphone might be "Big Brother" - Richmond.com - August 10th, 2020
- Legal Brief: Surveillance and the Fourth Amendment - SecurityInfoWatch - August 10th, 2020
- Common Ways to Fight Against a Drug Possession Charge - Student Assembly of the State University of New York - August 10th, 2020
- Trump Judge Casts Deciding Vote to Grant Qualified Immunity on First Amendment Retaliation Claim: Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears - People For the... - August 10th, 2020
- Did Judge Reeves Reach the Correct Result in Jamison v. McClendon? - Reason - August 10th, 2020
- The Police Lie. All the Time. Can Anything Stop Them? - Slate - August 10th, 2020
- The Court of Justice of the European Union in Schrems II: The impact of GDPR on data flows and national security - Brookings Institution - August 10th, 2020
- Calls for police reform and racial justice spur a flurry of resolutions before the ABA House - ABA Journal - August 10th, 2020
- Reporters Committee amicus brief in Alasaad v. Wolf - Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press - August 8th, 2020
- Meet the Judge Who Thinks a Black Man Walking Around Is a Crime - Rewire.News - August 8th, 2020
- Who will police Springfields cops? - The Boston Globe - August 8th, 2020
- 'Defund the police' is not a real reform strategy - The Maine Wire - August 8th, 2020
- Assessing Indias obsession with data localisation - Deccan Herald - August 8th, 2020
- How 9/11 and the US Civil War provided the framework for federal agents in Portland - News@Northeastern - August 7th, 2020
- Senators Graham And Blumenthal Can't Even 'Earn' The EARN IT Act: Looking To Sneak Vote Through Without Debate - Techdirt - August 6th, 2020
- The Constitutional Case Against Trumps Use of the Department of Homeland Security - The New Yorker - August 6th, 2020
- 'Trump's Troops Are Breaking the Law and Creating Chaos' - FAIR - August 6th, 2020
- Portland demonstrates that government spying on citizens has become commonplace, and easy - Washington Times - August 6th, 2020
- Plainclothes NYC police grab protester and throw her into unmarked car - WSWS - August 6th, 2020
- Majority of Kingston aldermen view Kingstonian project tax pact favorably, with conditions - The Daily Freeman - August 4th, 2020
- Officers on the street without ID or insignia is dangerous - News-Press Now - August 4th, 2020
- "It's the decent thing to do" - News - Fowler Tribune - August 4th, 2020
- What would the Founding Fathers do? - Smoky Mountain News - August 4th, 2020
- How the president became the deporter in chief. - Slate - August 3rd, 2020
- Want To Reform The Police? Get Rid Of Qualified Immunity - WBUR - August 3rd, 2020
- Who is Zane James, why were his brother and father detained by police in Cottonwood Heights protest? - MEAWW - August 3rd, 2020
- Unpacking DHS's Troubling Explanation of the Portland Van Video - Lawfare - August 1st, 2020
- Capitol Hill grilling of tech CEOs highlights expansion of 'geofence warrants' - WRAL.com - August 1st, 2020
- R Sikoryaks latest project is a word-for-word adaptation of the U.S. Constitution - Boing Boing - August 1st, 2020
- FBI bulletin exposes another crack in ELD mandate - Land Line - Land Line Media - August 1st, 2020
- Analysis: Is Trump stretching the law to deploy federal police power in cities? - wenatcheeworld.com - July 31st, 2020
- NRA and Tea Party: Where are you now? - Greensboro News & Record - July 31st, 2020
- Fourth Amendment | United States Constitution | Britannica - July 30th, 2020
- Fourth Amendment - the Text, Origins, and Meaning - July 30th, 2020
- "It's the decent thing to do" - News - Pueblo Chieftain - July 30th, 2020
- Trump Judge Casts the Deciding Vote to Reverse District Court Ruling to Suppress Evidence Obtained in Violation of the Fourth Amendment: Confirmed... - July 29th, 2020
- Trump Judge Casts the Deciding Vote to Give Qualified Immunity to Officers Who Violated Fourth Amendment: Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears - People... - July 29th, 2020
- How does the Fourth Amendment apply to my child while at school? - Lawyers.com Blog - July 29th, 2020
- Shot Twice in the Back: A Case Tests the Fleeing Felon Defense - The New York Times - July 29th, 2020
- Wronged by the Police? How to Defend Your Rights - Legal Reader - July 29th, 2020
- The innocents at home, anti-mask tales of purity - Greensburg Daily News - July 29th, 2020
- Someone who cared about safe cities would try to bring calm to chaos. Trump is doing the opposite to bolster his law-and-order reelection campaign. -... - July 29th, 2020
- Here's Why Cities Won't Be Able to Stop Trump's Secret Police - VICE - July 29th, 2020
- Radio Diary: A Harvard Law Professor Explains Why Federal Officers' Tactics In Portland Are Unlawful - WBUR - July 26th, 2020
- Two DHS Officials Apparently Just Admitted Their Troops Have Been Violating the Constitution - Law & Crime - July 26th, 2020
- John Krull: The innocents at home, anti-mask tales of purity - Terre Haute Tribune Star - July 26th, 2020
- Protester in Portland sues Trump for 'conspiracy to violate the U.S. Constitution' after alleged attack by feds - Pamplin Media Group - July 26th, 2020
- The Federal Coup to Overthrow the States and Nix the 10th Amendment Is Underway - River Cities Reader - July 26th, 2020
- LETTERS TO THE - Central Wisconsin News - Tribune Phonograph - July 26th, 2020
- The Majority of Americans Oppose Qualified Immunity. Where Is Congress? - Reason - July 26th, 2020
- Oregon sues US agencies over protest arrests; what gave feds authority to intervene? - ABA Journal - July 26th, 2020
- Can use of force restrictions change police behavior? Heres what we know - PBS NewsHour - July 26th, 2020
- Judge refuses to dismiss claims Balch Springs police violated rights of murdered teen Jordan Edwards - The Dallas Morning News - July 25th, 2020
- East Bay Homeless Living On Caltrans Property May Be Entitled To Cash - KALW - July 25th, 2020
- As journalism jobs decrease, the future of the discipline might depend on general education - Poynter - July 25th, 2020
- Trenton cop found a flask inside a councilwoman's car after crash, tried covering it up - The Trentonian - July 25th, 2020