SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Whether Louisiana law takes precedence over Shreveport’s Home Rule Charter was the basis of the oral arguments before the Louisiana Supreme Court Tuesday afternoon over whether Shreveport Mayor Adrian Perkins’ disqualification to run for re-election should stand.
A Caddo District Court disqualified Perkins bid for re-election on August 2 in response to a lawsuit filed July 29 challenging Perkins’ candidacy after he filled out his candidate qualification form stating his address was in the 9600 block of Stratmore Circle, where he was registered to vote, and signed it under oath.
In running for office in Louisiana, Title 18 election laws require a candidate to use the same address where they take Homestead Exemption, and Perkins claims his exemption at the downtown Shreveport condominium he bought in May 2019.
Perkins appealed his disqualification to Louisiana’s 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals and on August 9, a three-judge panel voted 3-0 to uphold the District Court’s decision. Last week, Perkins appealed that decision to the state’s highest court.
During oral arguments Tuesday afternoon before Louisiana’s highest court, Perkins’ attorney, Scott Bickford, said under the Shreveport City Charter, only two qualifications are necessary to run for office. One is to be a resident of Shreveport and the other is to be a registered voter.
But Louisiana Title 18 state law is clear that a candidate must fill out a candidacy form accurately, and therein lies the argument.
Bickford’s argument was that Perkins’ simply made an honest mistake and there was nothing nefarious in his doing so. Louisiana lawmakers and courts have established that in questions of ambiguity, the judgment should go to the candidate.
But, Jerry Harper, attorney for Francis Deal, the Shreveport man who filed the original lawsuit questioning Perking’s candidacy, argued that there was nothing ambiguous in the question.
Harper noted that Perkins, who is a graduate of West Point and Harvard Law School, testified that before signing the form under oath, he had looked over it, his campaign team looked over it, and his attorney looked over it.
Although Perkins’ attorneys filed a 52-page brief outlining his case, and Harper and partner Anne Wilkes filed a 21-page brief in opposition, both of which cited the case law that had been part of the Trial Court and 2nd Circuit’s decision, at the end of the day, it came down to whether Shreveport’s Home Rule or Louisiana law took precedence.
It’s not clear when the Louisiana Supreme Court might issue a ruling in the case.