Federal courts now involved in Flowers case

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 7, 2002

The legal battle involving former state Rep. Steve Flowers will continue now that the federal courts have taken up the case.

Thursday, officials with the Alabama Attorney General’s office said a three-judge panel will hear a lawsuit filed by Marty Connors and the Alabama Republican Party against the Alabama Secretary of State, county probate judges and circuit clerks.

The hearing is scheduled to take place May 14.

Connors and the Republican party are asking the federal judges to overturn a previous ruling by Montgomery Circuit Judge Charles Price.

Price’s ruling, which was issued two weeks ago, prevented the Republican Party from removing Flowers’ name from the June 4 primary ballot, although he had been disqualified from the District 14 State Senate race by an GOP candidate committee on April 15.

Price ruled the party had not disqualified Flowers before a deadline set by Alabama law.

The law prevents parties from changing ballot information within a 50-day deadline before an election.

In this case, the party tried to remove flowers within the 50-days.

In that same week, Price’s ruling was upheld by the Alabama Supreme Court by a 5-3 vote.

The Supreme Court is controlled by a Republican majority, including Chief Justice Roy Moore.

The 50-day deadline for the June 4 primary was April 15.

In a previous interview, Connors said Price’s ruling &uot;simply ignored 40-years of the election practice.&uot;

Connors was referring to the fact that since 1962 parties have been able to change ballots well within the 50 days, although state law said otherwise.

In the action filed before the federal court, Connors and the Republican Party are arguing Price’s actions should have been precleared by the U.S. Justice Department.

According to Connors, any change in election practices must be first precleared by officials on the federal level.

In this case, the act of Price preventing the party to change the ballot was not precleared as a change in election practice.

Attorneys representing Steve Flowers are not involved in the lawsuit. &uot;I am just going to keep campaigning and meeting people in this district,&uot; Flowers said Friday. &uot;I will let my attorneys do their job.&uot;

It was unclear if either side would continue the legal fight past the May 14 decision.

The GOP committee disqualified Flowers because he could not prove he fulfilled the residency requirements