Certified Questions From the District Court of Laramie County The Honorable Thomas T.C. Campbell, Judge
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kite, Chief Justice.
Before KITE, C.J., and HILL, VOIGT, BURKE, and DAVIS, JJ.
NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in Pacific Reporter Third. Readers are requested to notify the Clerk of the Supreme Court, Supreme Court Building, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82002, of typographical or other formal errors so correction may be made before final publication in the permanent volume.
[¶1] Max Maxfield, the Secretary of State for the State of Wyoming, filed a declaratory judgment action in district court challenging the constitutionality of Wyoming's term limit statute. The State responded, asserting among other claims, that Mr. Maxfield's complaint does not present a justiciable controversy and, in any event, the statute is constitutional. We accepted certification of the issues from the district court and hold that Mr. Maxfield has presented a justiciable controversy and the statute is unconstitutional.
[¶2] The district court certified the following questions to this Court:
1. To proceed under the Wyoming Declaratory Judgment Act, Wyo. Stat. Ann. §§ 1-37-101 through 1-37-115, Mr. Maxfield must present a justiciable controversy. To do so, he must show existing and genuine rights or interests, not theoretical ones. Does this case present a justiciable controversy?
2. Is the term limit law for statewide elected officials (Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 22-5-103(a)(i)), constitutional and enforceable, or are the qualifications provided by the Wyoming Constitution exclusive?
[¶3] Article 4, § 11 of the Wyoming Constitution states:
§ 11. State officers; election; qualifications; terms.
There shall be chosen by the qualified electors of the state at the times and places of choosing members of the legislature, a secretary of state, auditor, treasurer, and superintendent of public instruction, who shall have attained the age of twenty-five (25) years respectively, shall be citizens of the United States, and shall have the qualifications of state electors. They shall severally hold their offices at the seat of government, for the term of four (4) years and until their successors are elected and duly qualified. The legislature may provide for such other state officers as are deemed necessary.
[¶4] Article 6 contains the following provisions pertaining to electors:
§ 2. Qualifications of electors.
Every citizen of the United States of the age of twenty-one years and upwards, who has resided in the state or territory one year and in the county wherein such residence is located sixty days next preceding any election, shall be entitled to vote at such election, except as herein provided.
§ 5. Electors must be citizens of United States.
No person shall be deemed a qualified elector of this state, unless such person be a citizen of the United States.
§ 15. Qualifications for office.
No person except a qualified elector shall be elected . . . to any civil . . . office in the state.
[¶5] In the general election in 1992, the voters approved Initiative Number 1, § 1 which limited the number of terms that could be served in public office by certain elected officials. As amended by the legislature, the initiative provided in relevant part as follows:
§ 22-5-103. Legislative service; limits on ballot access; state offices
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of Wyoming law, the secretary of state or other authorized official shall not certify the name of any person as the nominee or candidate for the office sought, nor shall that person be elected nor serve in that office if the following will occur:
(i) The person, by the end of the current term of office will have served, or but for resignation, would have served eight (8) or more years in any sixteen (16) year period in the office for which the candidate is seeking nomination or election, except, that any time served in that particular office prior to January 1, 1993, shall not be counted for purposes of this term limit. This provision shall apply to the offices of governor, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer, and state superintendent of public instruction;
(ii) The person, by the end of the current term of office will have served, or but for resignation, would have served twelve (12) or more years in any twenty-four (24) year period as a state representative, except that any time served in the office of state representative prior to January 1, 1993, shall not count for purposes of this term limit;
(iii) The person, by the end of the current term of office will have served, or but for resignation, would have served twelve (12) or more years in any twenty-four (24) year period as a state senator, except that any time served as a state senator prior to ...