When Georgia had a Constitutional problem, 3 different people claiming to be governor

Discussion in 'Political Science' started by kazenatsu, Jul 14, 2022.

  1. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Donor

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    This is an interesting little story from U.S. history, which I believe is demonstrative of issues that could happen.

    The state of Georgia had a small Constitutional crisis, with two different persons claiming to be the rightful Governor of the state (actually three!).

    It started in 1947 when the man who was elected governor died before he was officially sworn in. The Constitution of the state did not clearly define what should happen in a situation like that.


    1947 Georgia Three Governors Crisis - YouTube, The History Guy: History Deserves to Be Remembered, July 6, 2022

    The legislature ended up siding with one of the candidates, but the state's Supreme Court said the previous governor should continue to remain governor. Even though the Legislature makes the laws, theoretically the law in the Constitution trumps the decision of the legislature.

    The video does not address this, but some hypothetical questions to think about:
    What if the state Supreme Court decision had been wrong, and was not accepted? The legislature had already decided one of the two candidates should be governor, but the Supreme Court came back with a different answer. One candidate was the previous governor, while the other had a small army of supporters who had stormed the capitol intent on installing their favored candidate as governor, after he was granted a mandate by decision of the legislature.

    The state Treasurer was refusing to hand over control of the state finances to either candidate until the matter was resolved.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2022
  2. kazenatsu

    kazenatsu Well-Known Member Donor

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    Here are the relevant parts from the 1945 Georgia Constitution so you can decide for yourselves who should have been the rightful governor.

    Article 5, Section 1
    Paragraph 1
    "The executive power shall be vested in a Governor, who shall hold his office during the term of four years, and until his successor shall be chosen and qualified. The Governor [...] shall not be eligible to succeed themselves and shall not be eligible to hold the office until after the expiration of four years from the conclusion of his term in office."

    Paragraph 2
    "The first election for Governor, under this Constitution, shall be held on Tuesday after the first Monday in November of 1946, and the Governor-elect shall be installed in office at the next session of the General Assembly. An election shall take place quadrennially thereafter, on said date, until another date can be fixed by the General Assembly."

    Paragraph 4
    " ... and the person having the majority of the whole number of votes, shall be declared duly elected Governor of this State; but, if no person shall have such a majority, then from the two persons having the highest number of votes, who shall be in life, and shall not decline an election at the time appointed for the General Assembly to elect, the General Assembly shall immediately elect a Governor viva voce; and in all cases of election of a Governor by the General Assembly, a majority of the members shall be necessary to a choice."

    Paragraph 5
    "Contested elections shall be determined by both houses of the General Assembly in such manner as shall be prescribed by law."

    Paragraph 7
    "There shall be a Lieutenant Governor, who shall be elected at the same time, for the same term, and in the same manner as the Governor. [...] In the case of death, resignation, or disability of the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor shall exercise the executive power and receive the compensation of the Governor until the next general election for members of the General Assembly, at which a successor to the Governor shall be elected for the unexpired term ..."


    So questions that arise are:

    If a candidate is elected but dies before he can be installed in office, does he constitute the governor's "successor" who has been "chosen and qualified"?

    Did a candidate who was elected as governor actually hold the position of governor before he assumed the office of governor?

    Does "no person have the majority" if one candidate clearly did have the majority but then he died?

    Should "contested elections" refer only to elections that are carried out, or also apply to contested Constitutional issues deciding who should be the governor?

    The Constitution was really not the clearest on what should happen in this situation.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2022

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