Constitutional Issue Not Waived Though Designated as Affirmative Defense Rather Than Counterclaim


Reviewing an action for declaratory and injunctive relief, the Alabama Supreme Court held that the issue of the constitutionality of appropriations legislation was properly before the Court even though the Governor’s administration should have raised the issue as a counterclaim rather than as an affirmative defense. Rule 8(c) of the Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure allows a court to treat a mistakenly designated affirmative defense as a counterclaim. More importantly, “the constitutionality of § 4 was argued by both sides at the trial-court level, and the trial court definitively ruled on the issue. Moreover, the Riley administration specifically identified the constitutionality of § 4 of H.B. 328 as an issue on appeal, and both sides have argued the merits of that issue to this Court.” Governor Bob Riley v. Joint Fiscal Committee of the Alabama Legislature et al., No. 1080468 (Ala.June 19, 2009).


The Court added that the Governor did not properly raise the issue of whether the legislation conflicted with § 126 of the Alabama Constitution. Consequently, the Court refused to address the issue.