The plaintiffs, complaining of secret legislative meetings, filed an action against several leaders of the General Assembly. They rely upon Art. III, Sec. IV, Par. XI of the Constitution of Georgia of 1983, providing in part: "The sessions of the General Assembly and all standing committee meetings thereof shall be open to the public." They also asked the trial court to enforce rules adopted by the houses of the General Assembly that require all meetings of all committees to be open to the public. The defendants' responses included the assertion that the "complaint fails to state a claim . . . upon which relief can be granted."
The trial court refused to dismiss the complaint as to the alleged constitutional violations, 1
and the defendants appealed. Ruling that "the courts do not have the power to regulate or enforce the internal rules of the General Assembly," the trial court dismissed that aspect of the complaint. The plaintiffs also appealed.
1. OCGA 9-11-8
(a) (2) (A) provides in part: "An original complaint shall contain . . . [a] short and plain statement of the claims showing that the pleader is entitled to relief." To show entitlement under the constitutional provision, the plaintiffs are required by this code section to allege that one or more "sessions of the General Assembly" or one or more "standing committee meetings thereof" was closed to the public.
2. The complaint, as amended several times, contains these assertions:
[M]eetings have been held of the Budget Committee of the House Appropriations Committee . . . . All "Budget Subcommittee" ("Green Door") meetings conducted on H.B. 226 . . . were conducted in secret . . . . The Conference Committee on H.B. 1 and the Conference Committee on S.B. 2 (concerning Tort Reform). . . met in closed door sessions.
On information and belief, there are other committees of this legislature that are similarly meeting in secret and/or unannounced sessions. . . .
The defendants, acting outside of the legitimate legislative sphere, have conducted or permitted the conduct of the business of standing committees of the General Assembly in meetings from which the public was excluded.
3. Nowhere does the complaint set out a "plain statement" that any session of the General Assembly or any standing committee meeting has been closed to the public. By virtue of that failure, the complaint fails to state a claim on constitutional grounds "showing that the pleader is entitled to relief," as required by OCGA 9-11-8
(a) (2) (A). 2
5. The plaintiffs appeal the dismissal by the trial court of that portion of their complaint seeking relief for alleged violations of the internal rules of the House of Representatives and of the Senate. The rules require that all committees meet in public. In ordinary circumstances, the internal operating procedures of the General Assembly will not be subjected to judicial review. See South Georgia Power Co. v. Baumann, 169 Ga. 649 (2) (151 SE 513) (1929). The trial court properly dismissed this claim.
6. These dispositions make it unnecessary to address other enumerations of error urged in the appeals.
Sewell R. Brumby, Douglas O. Carlyle, for appellants.