Freshman Representative Jay Hughes (District 12) filed for an emergency restraining order today in Hinds County Circuit Court seeking to require the Mississippi Constitution be followed in the chamber of the Mississippi House of Representatives.
According to Representative Hughes:
At issue is Article 4, Section 59 of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890, which requires all bills be fully read before they are voted upon. Historically, the House Clerk has personally read each bill aloud, in its entirety.
However, in the last few years, an electronic device was purchased at taxpayers’ expense to automatically read the bills aloud. The reading procedure has been invoked each year as long as members can remember.
This session, however, Speaker of the House, Phillip A. Gunn, has accelerated the reading speed to the highest possible level on the machine, which reads the words faster than any human ear or mind can even arguably comprehend, or about 10 words per second.
Despite multiple pleas from Representatives on the House floor today, before the taking legal action, Speaker Gunn declared that the Constitution said nothing specifically about being able to understand the bills, and refused to slow it down as it has always been.
In his post to constituents, Hughes said: “Silence is consent. Today I chose to speak – for the Mississippi Constitution and its people. We must respect the law. I cannot sit by and watch legislation harmful to education and the people just evade the entire process.”
“Right is right and wrong is wrong,” said Hughes. “This is no different than a bully on a public school play ground.”
Hughes paraphrased established Supreme Court law: “The government has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of men. It will certainly cease to deserve this high appellation if the laws furnish no remedy for the violation of a vested legal right.”
A temporary restraining order was granted to require bills be read at a normal rate of speed, and audio.
The hearing on a permanent injunction is Monday, at 9:00 am, in the Hinds County Circuit Courthouse before Judge Winston L. Kidd.
Section 59 of the Mississippi Constitution provides that unless 2/3 of members agree each bill will be read in full before its vote. The attached is the Speaker’s interpretation of your constitution:Thanks,Jay Hughes
Posted by Jay Hughes on Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Edited at 10:46 am March 24: Title changed to reflect that Representative Hughes is in fact a Representative, not a Congressman. Semantics.