McDaniel v. Paty - Oral Argument - December 05, 1977

McDaniel v. Paty

Media for McDaniel v. Paty

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 19, 1978 in McDaniel v. Paty

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 05, 1977 in McDaniel v. Paty

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments next in number 1427, McDaniel v. Paty.

Mr. LeClercq, I think you may proceed.

Frederic S. Leclercq:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

The appellant in this case is Paul McDaniel, a minister from Chattanooga, Tennessee.

He declared as a candidate and properly filed as a candidate for delegate to the 1977 Tennessee constitutional convention at which time he was sued by one of his opponents to have his name stricken from the ballot because he was a Minister of the Gospel and a provision of the present Tennessee constitution Article 9 provides that no priest or minister of the Gospel may serve in legislative office in Tennessee and the call to the Tennessee constitutional convention of 1977, picked up that qualification for persons who were to serve as delegates to the constitutional convention.

The matter was heard in the Chancery Court in Hamilton County and the chancellor enjoined the requirement as being in violation of the free exercise of religion.

An appeal was taken to the Tennessee Supreme Court which remanded for not having given notice to the Attorney General, the case was then heard in the Chancery Court of Hamilton County with the Attorney General appearing and the chancellor again enjoined the provision on Establishment Clause grounds.

During the period when an appeal was taken to the Tennessee Supreme Court by the State and Ms. Paty, the election was held and Reverend McDaniel won handily.

He came with a few votes of having more than the other three candidates combined.

The Tennessee Supreme Court heard this case and decided that Reverend McDaniel could not serve because of the provision of the Tennessee constitution and upheld the exclusion on separation grounds.

Counsel then sought a stay from Mr. Justice Stewart which was denied with suggestion that application be made to the Tennessee Supreme Court which was then done and the Tennessee Supreme Court granted a stay until June 20, 1977, at which time the Tennessee Supreme Court denied a second request for a stay and Mr. Justice Stewart then granted appellant’s request for a stay.

The constitutional convention began August 01, 1977 and Reverend McDaniel has been sitting as a delegate to that convention under the stay granted by Mr. Justice Stewart.

William H. Rehnquist:

Is it still on session, the constitutional --?

Frederic S. Leclercq:

The constitutional convention is still on session.

William H. Rehnquist:

Any anticipation or anything you tell from the record about when they expected it end?

Frederic S. Leclercq:

It is very difficult to predict when legislative groups in Tennessee will end.

William H. Rehnquist:

Or anywhere else?

Warren E. Burger:

This will happen counsel, if upon the election or upon filing as a candidate under the Tennessee law, the ordained minister renounced his ordination and resigned, would that clear him with the disability or do we not know?

Is there --

Frederic S. Leclercq:

Clearly, Mr. Chief Justice.

Warren E. Burger:

He might be tainted for life?

Frederic S. Leclercq:

You know, that issue that, we face that issue in the brief, on the waiving of this question and this was a very much question in the England, can one renounce his ministry, can one be defrocked and then run for office.

It is by no means clear on the face of the Tennessee, a disqualifying provision whether that could be done.

Now, this case, the issues in this case involve several provisions of a constitution.

This is a voting rights case.

It involves a right to be a candidate for a public office which this Court has vindicated in the past.

It involves voting rights as well since the right to vote for priest or ministers of the Gospel is an important right.

We face the same question in this case that was faced by the Court some years back when it addressed the question of whether the persons in the military could be fenced out from candidacy or from exercise of their voting rights.

William H. Rehnquist:

In what cases have we vindicated what you describe the right to be a candidate?

Frederic S. Leclercq:

Its my opinion Mr. Justice Rehnquist, that this was done in Bullock and in Lubin v. Panish and in American Party of Texas v. White.