Mays Rules Municipal Schools Referendums Still On

By Bill Dries

Memphis Federal Court Judge Hardy Mays ruled Thursday, July 12, the set of referendums on forming suburban municipal school districts will go ahead as scheduled starting with the early voting period that opens Friday, July 13.

Mays also refused a request by attorneys for the Shelby County Commission to delay certification of the results at least for the time being, but said he might be open to the possibility later as he wades into an actual trial on the issues.

The day long hearing in U.S. District Court was about whether there was strong likelihood of success by the County Commission on its claim that the state laws setting the rules for the referendums violated the Tennessee Constitution. The other standard at play was whether going ahead with the referendums would pose irreparable harm.

Mays ruled any harm was likely to voters in the suburbs who are already voting in absentee ballots by mail in advance of the Aug. 2 election day. And he said he didn’t see a strong likelihood of success on the challenge based on what he heard Thursday.

Mays also appeared anxious to move to a trial on the issues. All attorneys are due back in court Friday morning to begin scheduling for a trial. Mays indicated he does not intend to rule on the case any earlier than the Aug. 2 election day.

“We’ll just have to demonstrate patience,” Shelby County Commissioner Walter Bailey said at the end of the hearing

Collierville Mayor Stan Joyner said he was “guardedly optimistic.”

“I’m pleased that he did not enjoin the election. But what happened today certainly doesn’t end in a victory,” Joyner added. “ It was better than it could have been.”