Arnett v. Stumbo

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court (Kentucky)
Citation287 Ky. 433
PartiesArnett et al. v. Stumbo et al.
Decision Date13 June 1941

Page 433

287 Ky. 433
Arnett et al.
Stumbo et al.
Court of Appeals of Kentucky.
June 13, 1941.

1. Elections — Officers. — The authority conferred by constitution upon governor to restore suffrage and office holding rights by executive pardon to one convicted of a felony is in addition and supplementary to strict pardoning power provided for by constitution (Constitution, secs. 77, 145, 150).

2. Elections — Officers. — The loss of right to vote and of right to hold office which results from conviction of a felony is a collateral consequence, not flowing from the offense, but resulting to offender by reason of constitutional provisions alone (Constitution, secs. 145, 150).

3. Elections — Officers. — The right to vote and to hold office in a state comes from the state and is subject to regulation and control of state.

4. Elections — Officers. — Under provisions of constitution authorizing governor to restore suffrage and office holding rights by executive pardon to one convicted of a felony, governor had authority to restore citizenship rights of one convicted in federal court of violating a federal statute for which a felony punishment was provided, as against contention that a pardon by the President of the United States was essential to restore lost rights (Constitution, secs. 145, 150).

Appeal from Floyd Circuit Court.

Clark & Francis, Oscar P. Bond, and J.D. Bond for appellant.

Combs & Combs, S.S. Willis, and George B. Martin for appellee.

Before W.P. Mayo, Special Judge.



The appellant and a defendant below, W.L. Stumbo, was at the times herein stated a citizen of Floyd County. At the September, 1935, term of the Federal District Court at Catlettsburg, Kentucky, he was convicted of violating a federal statute and punished by two years' confinement in a penitentiary at Atlanta, Georgia. He carried his case through all of the Federal courts eventually landing in the Supreme Court of the United States and his conviction was upheld by all of them. He served a part of his time when he received a federal parole whereby he gained his liberty but the full two-year period of his sentence had expired before the beginning of this controversy. On February 5, 1940, Hon. Keen Johnson, then Governor of this Commonwealth, issued a certificate of restoration of the rights of citizenship to Stumbo wherein the above facts were recited followed by

Page 434

this further declaration: "Now Know Ye, That in consideration of the premises and by virtue of the power vested in me by the Constitution, I do hereby grant unto the said Dr. W.L. Stumbo All Rights of Citizenship in Kentucky denied him in consequence of said conviction, and I direct that all officers of this State respect this restoration. In Testimony Whereof, I have caused these letters to be made patent, and the seal of the Commonwealth to be hereunto affixed. Done at Frankfort, the 5th day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and 40 and in the one hundred and 48th year of the Commonwealth.

 "(Seal) Keen Johnson"

It was then attested by the Secretary of State and a copy of it delivered to Stumbo, who prior to the filing of this action, and within the time provided by law, filed with the defendant and appellee, A.B. Meade, County Court Clerk of Floyd County, his nominating papers asking that his name be printed on the official primary ballot for the August, 1941, primary election as a democratic candidate for the office of sheriff of Floyd County.

Following such filing the appellants, Boone Arnett and Ernest Boyd, as citizens and taxpayers of the county, as well as Democratic voters therein, filed this equity action in the Floyd Circuit Court against Stumbo and Meade (the latter being sued in his official capacity) to enjoin the printing of Stumbo's name on the primary ballot. The grounds for the relief sought were that under declared and constitutional laws of this Commonwealth Stumbo by virtue of his felony conviction, supra, lost his rights of citizenship within this Commonwealth whereby he became disqualified to either vote or hold office within it and could not be nominated in the primary election because of such ineligibility. It was further alleged in the petition that Stumbo had never received a pardon by the President of the United States for his offense and because of which his lost rights of citizenship by virtue of his conviction were never restored and that he was yet laboring under such deprivations. Defensive pleadings put in issue all allegations of the petition averring proper restoration, with affirmative...

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