The Louisiana Supreme Court has reaffirmed its January decision that a constitutional amendment barring convicted felons from running for state and local office for 15 years after their terms end is itself unconstitutional because of a technical error.
The state’s high court had granted state Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s request for a rehearing on one argument that was barred from its original consideration.
However, the court ruled that while the Attorney General’s Office had properly objected to an expedited hearing while the dispute was in state district court, the office went on to participate in that hearing, effectively waiving its right to object to the procedural irregularity.
The court ruled in January that a constitutional amendment prohibiting convicted felons from running for state and local office was invalid because one provision of the version approved by voters in 1997 didn’t match the language approved by the Legislature.
After former state Sen. Derrick Shepherd, a convicted felon, was disqualified from running for the District 87 state House seat last year, he challenged the amendment.
The high court said it was forced to strike down the amendment, even though the errant provision did not apply to Shepherd, who served two years in prison for public corruption.
The Supreme Court’s decision did not come in time to put Shepherd back on the Oct. 24 ballot for the Harvey-based seat, which was won by Rodney Alexander.
Bills that would call for a new popular vote on the amendment — as written, this time — have been proposed in the Legislature.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.