Drinking and Gambling Here to Stay in this LA Town?
MINDEN, LA – The state statute authorizing the mid-November 2003 local option election in Minden was illegal and unconstitutional, according to a lawsuit filed this week. Because of that vote restaurants in Minden are now allowed to serve liquor by the drink and each restaurant may apply to install up to three video poker machines.
The Alliance Defense Fund, America’s largest public interest religious liberty legal alliance, represents a group of Minden taxpayers who are asking a Louisiana court to rule that state legislators violated the state Constitution by providing for the irregular local option election.
"None of this was done in accord with the Louisiana Constitution," said Michael Johnson, an Alliance Defense Fund attorney based in Shreveport. "The Louisiana Legislature approved a statute that is contrary to the constitution by enacting a local law on the last day of its 2003 session to authorize the election in Minden."
The Minden proposition election violated the Louisiana Constitution. Johnson explained: "Article 3, Section 12 is entitled ‘Prohibited Local and Special Laws,’ and it says clearly that ‘the legislature shall not pass a local or special law for the holding and conducting of elections.’ That provision, among others, was simply ignored in this case."
The lawsuit, Davis, et al, v. The State of Louisiana, was filed in the 19th Judicial District Court in the Parish of East Baton Rouge. Johnson also noted that the election was also a referendum on gambling because under Louisiana law, a restaurant that is authorized to sell alcohol can also install up to three gambling devices in its facility.
Minden taxpayers who were alarmed at the prospect of local gambling challenged the election at the beginning of November, but a district court judge ruled they would have to wait and challenge the outcome of the vote. "The plaintiffs are very concerned about the negative effects of these activities on their community. They waited and now they’re suing," Johnson said.