Tennessee Nashville Metro Council Reduction Challenge (Tucker)
Tucker v. Lee
Lawsuit filed by voters from Davidson County, Tennessee against Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R), Secretary of State Tre Hargett (R) and Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins (R) challenging House Bill 48. Enacted in 2023, H.B. 48 requires the Metro Council to reduce its size by at least half (from 40 members to 20 members). The plaintiffs, who include two faith leaders, a business leader, a community advocate, a candidate for Metro Council (Davidson County and Nashville’s combined city council) and current members of the Metro Council, allege that H.B. 48 violates multiple sections of the Tennessee Constitution including its Home Rule Amendment. This amendment vests cities and local governments with the power to change their own charters (a document that outlines how a city is governed) via local referendum and, according to the plaintiffs, “established the county legislative body as a constitutional office, exempted consolidated city/county governments from any limit on the size of their legislative bodies, and allowed the General Assembly to impose an alternate form of county government only with local voter approval.” The plaintiffs also note that this new Tennessee law solely impacts the Nashville Metro Council and no other local governments in Tennessee; the law itself concedes this by stating ‘“[t]he proposed legislation therefore only applies to Metro, as its governing body exceeds the 20-member cap.”’ The plaintiffs argue that the law “will radically upend the electoral machinery for the August 2023 election, with no time for Metro Nashville or its candidates and voters to plan for the change.” The plaintiffs also allege that this law violates the Tennessee Constitution, which established four-year terms for council members, as H.B. 48 would extend current members’ terms and shorten the terms of their successors. The plaintiffs request a judgment deeming the law unconstitutional under multiple provisions of the Tennessee Constitution and a temporary and permanent injunction preventing the defendants from implementing H.B. 48. This case was consolidated with Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County v. Lee, where all future filings can be found.