Mississippi’s high court is determining whether it has the ability to weigh-in on a legislative fight over how fast bills are read.
It’s become known by lawmakers as the Demon Chipmunk, the sound of the machine the Mississippi House of Representatives uses to speed-read bills, and it’s under dispute.
During the contentious 2016 Legislative Session, Freshman, Democratic Representative Jay Hughes of Oxford sued Republican Speaker of the House Philip Gunn over the speed at which the machine read the bills. That case went before the Mississippi Supreme Court yesterday.
Hughes says his constitutional right to have the bills read has been violated.
"This is part of the constitutional process that's been followed, and unfortunately, one person is allowing that to be disregarded," says Hughes. "It doesn't matter why you excise your right. It's a right and a constitutional requirement that is permitted."
Speaker of the House Philip Gunn was not at yesterday’s hearing because he was in Cleveland, Ohio, for the Republican National Convention, and his lawyers declined to comment on the case.
However, during oral arguments, Gunn’s attorney, Michael Wallace told the eight justices that the court doesn’t have jurisdiction over the House’s internal rules.
"When the constitution decided to confer judicial power upon this court, the judicial power did not include to police the internal proceedings of the legislature," Wallace argues. "That is what the convention intended, what Wren said, and that is what Hunt says is the law today under the constitution.
Chief Justice William Waller Jr. said the court is taking the arguments under advisement, but gave no time-frame for when a decision will be made.