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Code of Honor: What Does it Mean?

Bill Britt

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By Larry Sims

To convince Americans to ratify the Constitution, James Madison offered this contribution: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions. Federalist 51.”  

What did Madison mean by “auxiliary precautions?”  This is an indisputable truth: We are an imperfect people ruled by an imperfect government with imperfect leaders.  Elections are dependent upon the people, but the hearing of government is often impaired.  How do “auxiliary precautions” constraint the activities of government and those hired by the people to lead it?

At the federal level we rely on our elected representatives (the President and Senators) to use wisdom in choosing members of the Judiciary, who are appointed for life.  Options are available to remove errant Judges, but they are rarely exercised.

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Simple guidelines are in place to define honorable behavior. These “auxiliary precautions” are called the Judicial Canons. Those offered by the American Bar Association are worth repeating:

Canon 1 

A judge shall uphold and promote the independence, integrity, and impartiality of the judiciary, and shall avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.

Canon 2

A judge shall perform the duties of judicial office impartially, competently, and diligently.

Canon 3

A judge shall conduct the judge’s personal and extrajudicial activities to minimize the risk of conflict with the obligations of judicial office.”

These simple statements of the judicial code of honor will be put to the test in just a few days.  The U. S. Supreme Court will be reviewing a case on state law regarding same sex marriage.  One apparent ethical problem rests on the shoulders of Justices Ginsberg and Kagan.  Both have presided over same sex weddings, one in judge’s chambers in the U. S. Supreme Building.  This case will test the definitions of impartially, integrity, competence and conflict of interest. Will Ginsberg and Kagan ignore the Canons and rule on this matter in the face of an obvious bias demonstrated by their actions?  We can only hope that “auxiliary precautions” will prevail.

Another example is closer to home.  Without quoting chapter and verse of Alabama Ethics laws, the underlying principle mandates this simple commandment: an elected official cannot use public office for personal gain.  A dark cloud of doubt hangs over the Alabama Legislature due to the actions of Speaker Mike Hubbard.  The case has not gone to trial, but his actions have caused a prosecutor and a grand jury to establish a series of questions based on Hubbard’s actions that warrant a trial.

The allegations have taken their toll. Along with the uncertainty over the Speaker’s future come questions about any action of the legislature.  The overriding question is this: Why is Hubbard still Speaker? The dark cloud would have dissipated if the members had chosen a new leader, but they refused to bulk status quo, paving the way for a potential colossal embarrassment for the legislature, state government in general, and the Republican Party. 

Hubbard is given credit for “transforming” the legislature into a conservative, pro-business body.  This flies in the face of thousands of Republican activists who have worked for decades to make this transition possible.  The rallying cry has often been “honesty in government.  That is being put to the test with the upcoming trial.  Have Republicans rallied around a potentially corrupt leader for the sake of holding on to power?  Has the lesson of “auxiliary precautions” been lost on Alabama Republicans?

Finally, one group that needs fewer “auxiliary precautions” is public educators.  The vast majority of public teachers and administrator enter the profession because they consider it “a calling”. The pay is acceptable, but the promise of fame or fortune is not in the cards.

In spite of this, the Code of Ethics for public educators is comprehensive and duplicated at the state and local level.  Press reports of misconduct or mal practice are common, but confined to the smallest minority of teachers and administrators.  When this occurs, it usually involves criminal activity, such as an inappropriate relationship with a student. Society has a low or zero tolerance for such blatant disregard for accepted moral standards.

Alabama law generally defines morality : (School Code 1927, §354; Code 1940, T. 52, §337.) “The State Superintendent of Education shall have authority to revoke any certificate issued under the provisions of this chapter when the holder has been guilty of immoral conduct or unbecoming or indecent behavior.” Since no state employee is above the law, it is assumed that “immoral conduct or indecent behavior” applies to the State Superintendent of Education as well, and it would be the responsibility of the Governor and the State Board of Education to deal with this matter if it occurs. 

In modern, politically correct America, it is often a struggle to define right and wrong, good and evil, or “immorality.”  In his book Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph , Dennis Prager voices frustration over what he calls moral confusion: “(I regret having to define) terms that should not need definition (good and evil), because a generation of Westerners has been taught that good and evil are totally subjective terms.” 

Why should it be necessary to define unwritten moral societal codes based on a general understanding of morality in the minds of the people? “Auxiliary precautions” are necessary, but they can never replace our understanding of Natural Law ingrained in each of us based our membership in the human race.

 

Larry Sims is a former State Legislator who teaches political science at an Alabama community college.  He is a life long Republican.

Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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Elections

Kay Ivey attends HudsonAlpha’s grand opening of Paul Propst Center

Brandon Moseley

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via Kay Ivey for Governor campaign

Wednesday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) was in Huntsville for the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology’s ribbon cutting ceremony for their newest expansion.

The Paul Propst Center is a 105,000 square foot building and is named to honor the memory of the father of Huntsville businessman and philanthropist William “Bill” Self Propst. Propst’s father, Paul, was a North Alabama minister.

“Technology is rapidly advancing in today’s world, and this facility will give scientists, educators, and entrepreneurs an opportunity to not only keep up but lead the way in biotechnology.” Governor Ivey said, “Following the ribbon cutting, I had a chance to tour HudsonAlpha’s new center and see firsthand the great work going on here. I fully anticipate and look forward to what revolutionary breakthroughs are next.”

“The research, education and economic development efforts happening at HudsonAlpha are revolutionizing the way that Alabamians live and the way the world lives, which is why I am so proud to join them in expanding those efforts through the addition of the Paul Propst Center,” Gov. Ivey said. “Thanks to HudsonAlpha, Alabama will be the state to make good on the promise of having 21st-century healthcare and agriculture.”

In addition to Gov. Ivey the event was attended by Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Alabama Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia), Alabama State Senator Arthur Orr (R-Decatur), U.S. Representative Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), and Huntsville area economic developer Nicole Jones.

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“HudsonAlpha is a leader in biotechnology and genomic research. Once again, they are on the cutting edge with the opening of the Paul Propst Center,” Rep. Brooks said. “The Paul Propst center is truly a state of the art building and will strengthen a workforce that continues the advancement of the biosciences economy in North Alabama. I was proud to participate in their ribbon cutting today.”

“This campus is a shining star for the state of Alabama, for this community, and the world stage,” Speaker McCutcheon told WHNT Channel 19.

“Bioscience, one of the State of Alabama’s targeted industries, brings in an estimated annual economic impact of $7.3 billion,” Nicole Jones told the Alabama Political Reporter. “The vision of HudsonAlpha Founders Jim Hudson and Lonnie McMillan contributes significantly to that number, and more importantly, enhances the quality of life of mankind.”

“At HudsonAlpha, members of the public and private sector partner to make innovations in biotechnology happen.” Nicole Jones added, “HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, literally and metaphorically, is built upon principles of collaboration. It has been an incredible opportunity to witness the institute’s growth over the past decade. Huntsville, Alabama is changing the world with the brilliant minds at HudsonAlpha.”

The Paul Propst Center is made possible by the state of Alabama and community support, including the generosity of Mr. Propst.

“Throughout my career, I have been focused on improving people’s health. My family and I continue to work towards these goals,” said Propst. “I see those working at HudsonAlpha with the same commitment to making life better. We are honored to be able to support HudsonAlpha as they continue to grow and make advancements.”

“HudsonAlpha is really helping us develop an industry that will drive not only the future of Huntsville but the future of healthcare as we know it. Cures for diseases will come out of HudsonAlpha that will impact the lives of our children and children’s children for decades to come,” said Mayor Tommy Battle.

“HudsonAlpha has accomplished so much in the only ten years, all of which would not have been possible without the support our community,” said HudsonAlpha co-founder Jim Hudson. “Cutting the ribbon today on the Paul Propst Center was a special moment not only for me, but all of us at HudsonAlpha and in Huntsville.”

The Propst Center has a similar look and feel to the flagship building at 601 Genome Way, the Propst Center will house components of HudsonAlpha’s education and research programs, and growing biotech companies. The details in design, glass walls, common sidewalks, a grand staircase, are intended to create a “team science” environment and contribute to the culture of collaboration.

“The vision of the institute’s founders is to see discoveries and advancements quickly occur with research and business working together,” said HudsonAlpha Vice President for Economic Development Carter Wells. “Today, we celebrate not just the continuation but a strengthening of the culture of collaboration and innovation created 10 years ago.”

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Elections

Jay Mitchell campaigns in St. Clair County

Brandon Moseley

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Republican nominee for the Alabama Supreme Court Jay Mitchell addressed the influential St. Clair County Republican Party at City Market Grill in Pell City Thursday.

Mitchell said that he wants to go to Montgomery and be part of, “Restoring confidence in what we do in Montgomery.”

Jay Mitchell said that he was born in Mobile and grew up in the Wiregrass. When he was ten, his family moved to Homewood. Mitchell went to Birmingham Southern where he played basketball and was part of a Division 3 basketball national championship team. Mitchell went to the University of Virginia School of Law, where he met his wife.

Mitchell and his wife, Elizabeth live in Homewood, with their four children. Jay is a partner with Maynard, Cooper & Gale in Birmingham. He has handled numerous cases at both the trial and appellate levels. He is recognized as one of the top attorneys in the United States

Mitchell said that if he is elected to the Alabama Supreme Court he is going to focus on what does the law say. “I believe that we have a responsibility as the Judiciary to stay on the right side of our boundary line and not become some sort of a super legislative group.”

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“I am not running for a paycheck, I am not running for a safe seat,” Mitchell said. I am going to Montgomery to work.

Mitchell said that he is glad that if he goes to Montgomery that St. Clair County District Attorney Richard Minor (R) will be working in the Judicial Building with him. Minor is the Republican nominee for the Court of Criminal Appeals. Minor has no Republican opponent.

Mitchell said that retired St. Clair County Judge Jim Hill does a great job representing St. Clair County in the Alabama legislature.

Mitchell said that “there is a great forgetting going on” right now. We are forgetting how the country was founded, the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution, and how men have sacrificed to protect our liberties. Mitchell promised that if he is elected to the Alabama Supreme Court that he will take time to talk to school groups. I am committed to do my part to help educate the next generation about this country.

Mitchell’s race is one of just two state appellate court races where the Democrats fielded a candidate. Mitchell faces Jasper attorney Donna Wesson Smalley (D) in the November general election.

Associate Justice Tom Parker (R) is running against Jefferson County Judge Robert Vance (D) for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

Former St. Clair Republican Party Chairman Paul Thibado said that we need to put a lot of effort into recruiting new people particularly young people to the county party. St. Clair County should be an industrial mecca.

St. Clair County Republican Party Chairman Lance Bell said that the newly elected St. Clair County Republican Party representative on the State Republican Executive Committee Emory Cox has had to resign his post because he has taken a job in the White House.

The St. Clair County Party Executive Committee members there elected St. Clair County School Board Attorney John Rhea to fill the vacancy. There was no opposition.

Bell said that Richard Minor was also stepping down from the State Republican Executive Committee and that the county party executive committee will vote on his replacement next month. The October meeting is tentatively set to be held in Moody.

St. Clair County Circuit Clerk Annette Manning Hall reminded the Republicans present that absentee ballots become available at her office on Monday, September 24.

Bell said that Kay Ivey’s St. Clair County Chairman Bill Morris was going to need help manning stations at the polls on election day.

Gov. Kay Ivey (R) faces Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter “Walt” Maddox (D).

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Shelby announces $4 Million in critical opioid treatment grants for Alabama community health centers

Brandon Moseley

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U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) announced that 15 community health centers located in Alabama have received a total of $4,038,000 in federal grant funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to support increased treatment and prevention for opioid and substance abuse.

“It is of the utmost importance that we work to fund the fight against the national opioid crisis,” said Senator Shelby. “Nearly every county in Alabama is affected by this growing problem. These HHS grants will allow community health centers across the state to provide treatment to patients with opioid and substance abuse and support addiction prevention programs, helping our communities tackle this widespread epidemic.”

The grants were awarded to community health centers in: Bayou La Batre, Birmingham, Centreville, Gadsden, Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, Parrish, Selma, Scottsboro, Troy, and Tuscaloosa.

64,000 Americans were killed from drug overdoses in 2016, more than were killed in a decade of fighting in the Vietnam War. More than 300,000 Americans have been killed by opioids since 2000. In 2016 more than 20.1 million Americans were addicted to prescription painkillers and/or illicit opioids.

Responding to the unprecedented drug crisis has been a priority of the administration of President Donald J. Trump (R).

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“We are already distributing nearly $1 billion in grants for addiction prevention and treatment, and more than $50 million to support law enforcement programs that assist those facing prison and facing addiction,” the President said. “We have also launched an $81 million partnership to research better pain management techniques for our incredible veterans.”

The President’s proposed Federal Budget requested $3 billion in new funding in 2018 and $10 billion in 2019 for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to combat the opioid epidemic by expanding access to prevention, treatment, and recovery support services. The funding would also go toward addressing mental health concerns.

On September 19, HHS awarded nearly $352 million to 1,232 community health centers across the nation, including the 15 in Alabama, through the Expanding Access to Quality Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Services (SUD-MH) awards. The SUD-MH awards support health centers in implementing and advancing evidence-based strategies that best meet the substance use disorder and mental health needs of the populations they serve.

The following 15 community health centers in Alabama will receive the $4,038,000 in grant funding:

  • Bayou La Batre Area Health Development Board, Inc., Bayou La Batre – $285,000
  • Christ Health Center, Inc., Birmingham – $285,000
  • Alabama Regional Medical Services, Birmingham – $285,000
  • Aletheia House, Inc., Birmingham – $201,750
  • Cahaba Medical Care Foundation, Centreville – $296,000
  • Quality of Life Services, Inc., Gadsden – $293,000
  • Central North Alabama Health, Huntsville – $285,000
  • Health Services, Inc., Montgomery – $285,000
  • Franklin Primary Health Center, Inc., Mobile – $285,000
  • Mobile County Health Department, Mobile – $285,000
  • Capstone Rural Health Center, Parrish – $287,250
  • Rural Health Medical Program, Inc., Selma – $285,000
  • Northeast Alabama Health Services, Inc., Scottsboro – $110,000
  • S.E. Alabama Rural Health Associates, Troy – $285,000
  • Whatley Health Services, Inc., Tuscaloosa – $285,000

“Addressing the opioid crisis with all the resources possible and the best science we have is a top priority for President Trump and for everyone at HHS,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “The more than $1 billion in additional funding that we provided this week will build on progress we have seen in tackling this epidemic through empowering communities and families on the frontlines.”

“This week, HHS updated its strategic framework for tackling the opioid crisis, which uses science as a foundation for our comprehensive strategy,” said Admiral Brett Giroir, Assistant Secretary for Health and Senior Advisor for Opioid Policy. “With these new funds, states, tribes, and communities across America will be able to advance our strategy and continue making progress against this crisis.”

Earlier this week, Senator Shelby voted to pass “The Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018,” which was a bipartisan effort of over 70 U.S. Senators and includes proposals from the Senate Committees on: Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions; Finance; Judiciary; Commerce, Science, and Transportation; and Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.

The legislation would improve detection of illegal drugs at the border, improves the sharing of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs data between states, and aims to reduce the use and supply of dangerous drugs.

Senator Richard Shelby is the Chairman of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee.

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Will Christine Blasey Ford testify before Senate Judiciary Committee or not?

Brandon Moseley

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Christine Blasey Ford has alleged that she was groped by Brett Kavanaugh when they were both teenagers and that another student had to pull him off of her.

That student, Kavanaugh’s Georgetown Prep classmate Mark Judge denies Ford’s account. Judge said Ford’s allegation never happened: “It’s just absolutely nuts. I never saw Brett act that way.”

Kavanaugh has denied that the incident has ever taken place.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is now begging Ford to agree to come to Washington to testify.

The committee will hold a special session on Monday and has invited both Kavanaugh and Ford to testify on the allegations. Only Kavanaugh has accepted. As of press time, Ford has agreed to testify but not on Monday and even though she is the accuser she is demanding that Kavanaugh testify first. Traditionally the accuser testifies first and the accused is allowed to testify second. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has not yet agreed to Ford’s highly unusual demands.
Some Republicans have argued that if she does not come Monday that the Senate Judiciary Committee should just go ahead and vote and send the nomination to the full Senate.

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“The Democrats and special interest groups have only one goal – delay and stop the nomination of Bret Kavanaugh,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Of course, Christine Blasey Ford refuses to testify. She is being used as a political pawn to delay the hearing. Only after Senate Democrats were unable to delay or stop the confirmation process did they bring this 36-year-old allegation which they held for six weeks. The confirmation hearing needs to move forward, and this mockery of the system and disrespect to a good man must end.”

Some have compared Ford’s Washington Post story that he had sexually misused 15 year old Christine Blasey Ford to last year’s Washington Post story that then U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore has sexually misused 15 year old Leigh Korfman.

“Brett Kavanaugh, like me, has withstood numerous investigations and vetting by the most rigorous legal and political authorities,” Judge Moore said in a statement. “The timing of these accusations in the midst of the U. S. Senate’s confirmation for a seat on the U. S. Supreme Court, like those allegations against me only 32 days before the final election for the United States Senate last year, is indeed suspect and show the depths to which liberals will stoop to stop opposition to their agenda.”
Senate Democrats used similar character assassination tacticsto fight the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Christine Blasey Ford is expected to make a decision today on whether or not she will testify.

Brett Kavanaugh is President Donald J. Trump’s second nomination to the Supreme Court.

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Code of Honor: What Does it Mean?

by Bill Britt Read Time: 5 min
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