Georgia Supremes say Powell is on the ballot. (via Thomas Wheatley @ Creative Loafing)
Atlanta, Oct. 30, 2008 – The Supreme Court of Georgia today upheld James R. Powell’s right to run in Tuesday’s election for a seat on the Public Service Commission.
Secretary of State Karen Handel had appealed a Fulton County Superior Court ruling that sided with Powell and overturned her decision finding Powell ineligible to run based on where he lived. In June 2008, Handel first challenged Powell’s qualifications a month after he filed his intent to run as a Democrat against Republican Lauren McDonald for the PSC District 4 post. She argued that a homestead exemption Powell had on his Cobb County property established an irrefutable presumption of legal residence and proved Powell did not live in the North Georgia district he seeks to represent. In her appeal, Handel argued that under state law, the trial court should have given deference to her interpretation of the law on residency that she is in charge of enforcing.
But in today’s unanimous decision, written by Justice Robert Benham, the Supreme Court disagrees. “It is the role of the judicial branch to interpret the statutes enacted by the legislative branch and enforced by the executive branch…, and administrative rulings will be adopted only when they conform to the meaning which the court deems should properly be given,” 8-page opinion says. The facts of the case are not in dispute, merely the interpretation of the law, the opinion points out.