Circuit Judge Mary McGowan Wednesday ruled against plaintiffs in a lawsuit attempting to invalidate two constitutional amendments referred by the legislature — one to all but do away with term limits and the other to make it more difficult for the people to petition for law changes.
But the fight goes on. A notice of appeal was filed today by lawyer David Couch for Tom Steele, a plaintiff and leader of Arkansas Term Limits. They want an expedited appeal and want the merits of the lawsuit addressed.
McGowan said that, despite arguments about the misleading nature and multiple moving parts of the amendments (fatal flaws to citizen-initiated petitions), Arkasas Supreme Court precedent gave greater leeway to amendments put on the ballot by the legislature.
This is how we got fake term limits and a sham ethics amendment in the first place, to name a few legislative acts.
The plaintiffs argue the ballot titles for the two amendments are insufficient and misleading. The petition amendment makes popular petitioning far harder than it already is (and it’s very hard now) with earlier deadlines, increased signature requirements and elimination of a “cure” period when sufficient signatures are submitted, but some are ruled ineligible. It also makes changes on how the legislature may submit amendments and, plaintiffs contend, it rolls up several amendments into one.
The term limits amendment is also flawed, plaintiffs argue, in part because, ” The ballot title fails to inform the voter that lifetime term limits would be eliminated and that members of the General Assembly could serve an unlimited number of years interrupted only by an occasional “sit out” period as short as a single 2-year term.”
This, of course, is the point. It should be called the Term Limits Repeal Amendment.