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This Day in Georgia History

March 19, 1947

Georgia Supreme Court Ruling on Three Governors Affair

In a 5-2 decision in the case of Thompson v. Talmadge, Georgia’s Supreme Court ruled that earlier that year, the General Assembly had exceeded its power in electing Herman Talmadge governor during the “Three Governors Affair.” The legislature had justified its action because of a state constitution provision that in the event no candidate for governor received a majority of all votes cast, the General Assembly shall elect the governor from the two candidates that received the highest number of votes and “who shall be in life.” The high court, however, ruled that the state constitution provided that the governor’s term was “four years, and until his successor shall be chosen and qualified.” When governor-elect Eugene Talmadge died before taking the oath of office, the court ruled that departing governor Ellis Arnall had no successor - so he remained governor until he resigned on Jan. 18, when newly elected Lt. Gov. Melvin Thompson succeeded to the office.