The Right of Conquest in Alabama
February 15, 2009, 12:47 pm
Filed under: Ian | Tags:

A group of Alabamans want to wipe away the entire Alabama state constitution:

A group of Alabama voters who say the state’s constitution was never legally ratified by the people are asking for a new vote on it or on a new constitution.

The voters this month sued several state officials in Jefferson County Circuit Court’s Bessemer division, claiming they violated voter rights by failing to ensure that Alabama’s 108-year-old constitution is valid. State historians say the 1901 referendum on the document was plagued with voter fraud.

The lawsuit is the latest approach at forcing reform of a lengthy state constitution that is riddled with racist language, offers little power to local governments and imposes a tax system that critics call immoral. Efforts to change it at the legislative level for years have been unsuccessful.

“All I’m asking is that the constitution of Alabama be the constitution of the people, which it is not right now, because they didn’t vote for it,” said Ed Gentle, the attorney for the plaintiffs.

I’m rather fond of this idea.  The Alabama Constitution is a real turd, chock full of provisions banning interracial marriage and requiring the collection of poll taxes, and if anything, it has gotten worse with age.  In 1993, the Alabama Supreme Court declared the state’s public school system unconstitutional because it did not provide an adequate education to low-income students.  Alabama responded, not by improving the quality of its public schools, but by amending its constitution to prevent the state supreme court from enforcing its decision.  Classy.

Of course, the assault on the Alabama state constitution is unlikely to succeed.  Among other things, the suit was filed in an Alabama state court, which is itself created by the Alabama state constitution.  So if an Alabama state court were to declare the state constitution null-and-void, it would set up a kind of Back to the Future-style paradox that would question the very existance of the court itself.

(Hat Tip: Bashman)


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