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February 19, 2008

Booze is back in two precincts

The latest installment of the wet-dry vote in West Louisville’s Shawnee neighborhood is setting up a legal battle that could potentially go to the Kentucky Supreme Court. In late January, Circuit Court Judge Martin McDonald dismissed the lawsuit filed by convenience storeowners, effectively enforcing last year’s 86-percent vote in favor of turning four Shawnee precincts dry. However, last week, attorney Teddy Gordon, who represents two storeowners, filed a pair of appeals that have once again, through a judge’s ruling, put the kibosh on the alcohol ban. The first continues to challenge the legality of the special election. The other raises the fundamental issue of whether crafting legislation based upon precincts is akin to gerrymandering. Citing that no voters reside in the precincts of Churchill Downs and Louisville International Airport, which according to his argument violates the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment, Gordon’s appeal potentially jeopardizes any law or vote based on the boundaries of precincts. Agreeing to hear Gordon’s appeal last Friday, Circuit Judge Mary Shaw also imposed a restraining order, releasing the padlocks on alcohol sales in two of the four affected Shawnee precincts. “This has become a frustrating experience,” Metro Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton, D-5, said in a statement. “If the judge believes and follows Mr. Gordon’s arguments, then not just all the wet-dry elections that have been held in Jefferson County but any other valid elections could be overturned on that basis.” A spokesperson for Gordon told LEO that he still proposed repeating last September’s special election, but is prepared to take the case to the Kentucky Supreme Court if necessary.