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Term limit case to be heard by court Oct. 24

Sep 16, 2012 - The Associated Press

The Wyoming Supreme Court has set a date to hear arguments in a lawsuit by the secretary of state challenging term limits for himself and other statewide elected officials.

The court will hear arguments on Oct. 24 involving the lawsuit that Max Maxfield filed last year as a private citizen. Maxfield, who previously served two terms as state auditor, is now in his second term as secretary of state.

The high court ruled in 2004 that the state term limits law, which voters adopted by initiative in 1992, was unconstitutional in regard to state legislators. It said qualifications for state offices are spelled out in the Wyoming Constitution and requirements can only be changed by constitutional amendment, not state statute.

Maxfield maintained his case covers the same facts and the result should be a slam-dunk in his favor regarding statewide elected officials.

"There is absolutely no difference," Maxfield said Wednesday. "The constitution speaks to what the requirements are to run, and (the term limits law) was deemed unconstitutional because it added another requirement that wasn't recognized in the constitution. That was true then, and it's true today."

The Wyoming attorney general's office, which is defending the state law against Maxwell's lawsuit, claims Maxfield lacks a legitimate case because he hasn't said whether he intends to run for a third consecutive term when his current term is up in 2014.

"Maxfield filed his complaint more than two years before the 2014 primary election's filing period begins," the agency states in court documents. "Absent his declaring an intention to run for secretary of state for a third consecutive time in 2014, his claim is a theoretical one."

Wyoming Attorney General Greg Phillips has a policy of not commenting on pending cases.

Maxfield said he can't declare that he's running for a third term because that would be illegal under the current term limits law.

Official candidacy announcements often come in the springtime before a fall election, but Maxfield said candidates have to start organizing and raising funds far in advance to be successful.

"I'm in a position now that if I want to go raise money, I can't very well sit down with someone and say, 'will you contribute $1,000 for a campaign that I may or may not be able to run in,'" Maxfield said. "So it's hindering my opportunity to actually form a campaign which in a statewide race, takes a lot longer than a year to set up."

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