The remaining defendants in the lawsuit over a controversial tuition tax credit bill filed an emergency motion on Thursday asking the Alabama Supreme Court to expedite the appeal and requested an expedited schedule to resolve the case before the end of the current legislative session.
The defendants, after a Montgomery County circuit judge ruled against them on Wednesday and stopped progress on the controversial bill, appealed the case Wednesday evening. They filed the emergency motion about 24 hours later arguing the case is “extremely time sensitive.”
“The injunction represents an unprecedented violation of the separation of powers … and calls for immediate review by this court,” attorneys for the Republican lawmakers argued in the motion.
A week ago, Republicans pushed through drastic changes to a school flexibility bill that would allow parents of children in failing schools to claim tax credits that they could use to attend a private school or non-failing public school. The Alabama Education Association filed a lawsuit on Monday trying to stop the Legislature from submitting the bill to Gov. Robert Bentley for his signature.
Circuit Judge Charles Price issued a temporary restraining order stopping the Legislature from transmitting the bill to the governor.
Lawyers for the appellants, including House Speaker Mike Hubbard and Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, argue that the Legislature has a constitutional duty to transfer passed legislation to the governor for his signature or veto. Bentley has vowed to sign the legislation.
If the Supreme Court does not act sooner, the temporary restraining order would be in effect until March 15, when Price plans to rule on the AEA’s request for a permanent injunction. The attorneys for the defendants argued that, as of the Thursday filing, there were only 19 legislative days left in the current legislative session and that the session must end by May 20 and could end sooner.
“If this litigation is not resolved before the end of the session, the clerk of the House of Representatives will be forced to choose between defying the injunction and performing his duties as commanded by the Alabama Constitution and obeying the injunction, thus usurping the governor’s sole prerogative to decline to sign a bill,” according to the emergency motion. “Moreover, each passing day diminishes the Legislature’s opportunity to consider executive amendments from the governor, or to pass House Bill 84 – which again, enjoyed very strong support from both houses of the Legislature – over the governor’s veto.”
The attorneys for the legislative leadership argue the situation needs a resolution.
“The citizens of Alabama deserve an answer, as the process of their government is being unjustly thwarted,” according to the motion. “Of course, any ruling that the injunction was improper that is handed down after the session ends will be moot, as the time for enrolling the bill and transmitting it to the governor will have expired.”
– posted by Sebastian Kitchen