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Monday, October 4, 2010

 It's a Damned Lie-Constituional Amendment One on the ballot in November
The authors of this evil proposal are well aware that the constitutional amendment process, as construed by our Supreme Court, gives the legislature an open invitation to commit election fraud, as they propose to do here.

In Donaldson v. Dep't of Transp., 262 Ga. 49 (Ga. 1992), Justice Weltner's dissent points out how affirmatively deceptive the ballot was. In his typical concise prose:
(b) It is difficult to imagine a plainer case of affirmative misstatement  than this case. Consider:
(i) The voters were asked whether they wanted the right to sue the state.
(ii) The voters answered "yes."
(iii) Because they answered "yes," their existing rights to sue the state have been terminated!
The majority did not disagree; they stated the rule for framing amendment ballots thus:
The only limitation on the General Assembly in drafting ballot language is that the language be adequate to enable the voters to ascertain which amendment they are voting on.
So, as long as the voters can determine that they are voting on something having to do with competition, and not with highways or public office, it doesn't matter what the Yes-No question says.  A concurring Justice put the matter very clearly:
The proper focus of this court's inquiry is whether the ballot language, even if deceptive as to the purpose of the amendment, prevented the voter from knowing which amendment he was voting for or against.
There it is. If the legislature wants to commit fraud on the public, this is how they can do it. Legally.

And do it they did. The current constitution has for over a century contained a provision prohibiting the legislature from passing any law that would permit a contract that defeats or lessens competition. Ga. Const. Art. III, Sec. VI, Par. V(c). This has been held to prohibit enforcement of non-competition agreements, except for very narrow and extremely justifiable reasons. It has enabled professionals and other skilled workers to compete, unshackled by anti-competition agreements imposed upon them by their employers. There is a large body of clear and coherent case law on this.

The proposed constitutional amendment will reverse this. It will enable the legislature to pass statutes that will allow employers to shackle employees, to keep them subservient, by requiring them to sign anti-competition agreements on pain of unemployment.

So, to take Justice Weltner's format:
(i) The voters will be asked whether they want reasonable competition upheld

(ii) The voters may answer "yes."
(iii) If they answer "yes," their existing rights to compete reasonably will be lost.

I don't know which is worse, this attempt to reinstate indentured servitude or this outright lie to the entire people. In either case, vote NO and tell everybody else to do likewise.
Charles M. Cork, III


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