The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County filed a lawsuit Monday in the Davidson County Chancery Court against Governor Bill Lee for his recent signing of a bill (SB87/HB48) that requires the Metro Nashville City Council – composed of 40 members- to be cut in half.

The lawsuit also names Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Tennessee Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins as defendants.

The city’s lawsuit claims the new law – which caps the number of elected officials in the governing body of a Metropolitan government or municipality to 20 – violates the Constitution and the rights of Nashvillians. The lawsuit also argues that such a reduction to the council size “creates confusion,” as the law requires the council to redraw district maps and other logistical measures by May 1st and elect its new representatives at the next general election scheduled for August 3rd.

“In imposing these Council-reduction requirements on Metro Nashville just before a local election, the General Assembly undermines the purpose of local-government consolidation, ignores numerous other constitutional prohibitions on such a reduction, and creates confusion and chaos among citizens and candidates,” the lawsuit states.

A provision in the new law does allow a special general election to be set for the first Thursday in August 2024, with council members serving three-year terms beginning September 1st, 2024 if the May 1st deadline for redistricting isn’t met. However, the lawsuit further argued that this provision is also unconstitutional.

During a news conference on Monday, Metro Nashville Law Director Wally Dietz described the lawsuit as the “most important lawsuit in the history of the Metropolitan government.”

“Metropolitan government has been in effect for 60 years and I cannot think of another lawsuit that is more important than this one,” Dietz stated.

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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.
Image “Metro Nashville Law Director Wally Dietz” by Mayor John Cooper.