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Opinion | There are three types of judges

Win Johnson

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By Win Johnson
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In light of the recent resignation announcement of Alabama Supreme Court Justice Glenn Murdock and the pending appointment of a new Justice by Governor Ivey, I present this statement on the 3 types of judges. This writing begins tongue-in-cheek, but it ends deadly serious.

I was driving this morning, when a State Trooper pulled me over and said, “You weren’t driving the speed limit.”

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I said, “I was doing 65 mph in a 70 mph zone, Officer.”

He said, “That’s too slow. The number on the speed limit sign is the minimum speed.”

“But that’s never been the case in my experience, Officer.”

“Well, you understand that I’m the one who enforces the law, right? So, I want to see you speeding up when you leave here. Here’s your ticket.”

So, I continued up the interstate and drove over 70 mph. I’d been driving a while, when this same Officer decided to pull me over again. He told me that I was going over the speed limit. When I protested that he had just told me that I was driving too slow earlier and that the number on the sign was the minimum speed, he said, “Well, I now interpret the sign differently. It’s the maximum speed.” So he gave me a ticket. When I told him that I’d like to give back to him the first ticket, he said, “Oh no, that was the law as I interpreted it back then. You’ve got to pay both.”

You recognize that story as a joke, but that’s how our judicial system works in this time, a time devoted to change, not to the law. When change becomes the foundation for law instead of stability, that is what the judges do – change the law. Law is, by definition, stable, predictable. In a time devoted to change, change becomes more important than a stable, predictable legal system, more important than the law itself. God’s law never changes. Departure from that law will always result in a system of change, change that fits man’s sinful desires instead of justice and predictability.

I have some questions for you to place my position on types of judges in context. If a policeman were to pull you over for speeding and demand that you perform a sexual act for that policeman, would you do it? If not, why would you defy a person whom we call “the law?” Would it be because that officer has gone beyond his authority? What if the mayor of Montgomery, AL ordered the taxation of the businesses in Decatur, AL and sent police officers to collect those tax dollars from those businesses? If you were a Decatur business, would you pay the tax? If not, why not? The mayor went beyond his authority? If we’re that clear on where the authority of those officials ends, why not judges.

Today, we have judges serving who in certain, important cases – important to them – have no intention of remaining faithful to the law or the Constitution. They are in the highest places of authority. They are conscienceless and are perfectly willing to violate and defy the Constitution, the law of man, the law of God, even the Judiciary’s own principles of interpretation, originally developed in order to keep the Judiciary from overstepping its boundaries. We are not waiting for the undermining of our constitutional republic. It is already upon us. We are living in a day of tyranny, perhaps a “soft” tyranny, but a tyranny that could become quite hard under the right circumstances.

So what are the three types of judges in our day? (By the way, this writing is in no way meant to reflect negatively upon the career of Justice Glenn Murdock, a dependable Judge whom I know personally and whom I know sought to faithfully follow the Constitution and the rule of law).

There is the liberal judge, who is really no judge at all. This judge simply is waiting for the opportunity to be a legislator. He or she may be a faithful judge in every case until they get to the one they consider so important that they must violate their oath to change the law, to make it in their own image. This is the day they were waiting for – the chance to make their mark, to impress their colleagues, to be feted at parties and written about in law reviews. They may use colorful, creative, even ingenius language in their opinions, but it is all a front to impose their will, their belief, their religion, their perspective, their philosophy on the rest of us.

There is the conservative judge, hopefully an originalist. This judge wants to be faithful to the law, the Constitution, so he or she reads and interprets it as it was originally intended to be interpreted. This judge also recognizes the importance of precedent to the stability of any legal system. This judge believes in the consistent treatment of cases that are similar in law and facts, so this judge follows precedent. The original intent of following precedent was to ensure that justice was consistent, that one party was not treated differently from another because a different judge heard that party’s case at a later time. However, in our day when unfaithfulness to the oath and perversion of the law has become so prevalent – even common – the conservative judge’s commitment to precedent actually makes him or her an accomplice to the crime of undermining our constitutional system of law and justice. And the conservative judge thinks it’s just “unseemly” to make a fuss about another judge’s errant ruling; it makes the entire system appear bad. Never mind the fact that the system is, in fact, bad and getting worse. Precedent has become a lever for changing the law, not keeping it consistent. Following precedent is how liberal judges count on the conservative judges to continue their legacy of perversion of the law and Constitution. The liberal judge turns things upside down, and the conservative judge doesn’t even notice that he’s not flying right side up. That’s how pilots crash at night and in bad weather. They lose their orientation to up and down.

Then there is the Reformational judge. This judge understands what the law is, what the law should be, the limits to a judge’s authority, and points the way back to the true standard, the plumbline governing right & justice for the people, the judicial system, and the entire society. When faced with another judge’s ultra vires (outside-authority) precedent, a presumption to an authority which that judge does not have, the Reformational judge does not follow. There exists no collegial respect, principle of the rule of law, nor constitutional requirement that one judge must follow another judge in that rogue judge’s lawless, presumptuous, personal adoption of judicial tyranny.

– To allege otherwise is to assert that every judge is a sheep, not an official with the discretion, wisdom, and judgment to understand and apply the law that is, but is bound by law to follow the wolves, who would undermine and destroy the very Constitution they claim to uphold.

– To allege otherwise is to assert that every judge is bound by law to become as lawless as the lowest, most reprehensible, oath-breaking judge in the system.

– To allege otherwise is to assert that one public official, a rogue judge, can dictate to a free, democratic people and every other public official, bound by oath to defend and protect the Republic and its Constitution, and command the destruction of the very system meant to protect that people, that Republic, and that Constitution.

In other words, it is a proposition so absurd, so virulently destructive to the rule of law, that one can append the label “traitor” to anyone promoting it. Yet only the reformational judge will oppose it. The reformational judge uses all the power at his or her disposal to oppose such judges, for such judges use the Constitution to destroy the Constitution.

– Rogue judges take an oath to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic, yet they become the Constitution’s enemy.

– Rogue judges pretend to follow and promote the Constitution as a “living” document only that they may kill it.

– Rogue judges write long, wordy opinions that mount up to the heavens in majestic language, yet they would use their opinions to pull God Himself from His throne, if they could just come up with the correct, scholarly wording for an opinion proposing it.

Yet, that proposition, my friends, sums up one of the core articles of faith of the present legal system of this country. Every judge, state and federal, must follow the precedent issued by a “higher” court, as if the judicial system were some type of military organization with a strict chain of command. And the highest court of the land, the US Supreme Court, has such power in its opinions that it could – by a vote of 5 to 4 – command the entire nullification of the US Constitution, as long as the opinion could be carefully written to conceal its effect, was “intellectually” defensible, and if a majority of the legal community agreed.

In other words, we are presently living under the rule of lawyers and judges. And not lawyers and judges bound by law, but lawyers and judges unbound from the law, asserting that change is all that matters. For them, no God has issued eternal decrees of right and justice. And no future generation can be bound by the words of men living over 200 years before, i.e., the framers of the Constitution. No law of man or God stops them. For them, only man given to change exists. His purpose? To change the law to fit his particular tastes at the time. And to them, the people are mere sheep, worthless for anything but for tricking into the belief that they actually live in a democratic republic buttressed by the “rule of law.” Their vote is worthless, for they are ignorant sheep. No, bigoted, hateful sheep to whom the legal elite pronounce their law, their new morality, and their new religion – “Whatever We Say the Law Is, That’s What It Is. If you don’t agree, you’re evil.”

For some strange reason, the conservative judge doesn’t think there exists an authority for undoing or reversing such perverse precedent. The liberal judge is all in favor of such change. But the reformational judge finds and adopts every means within his or her power to stop such destruction of the rule of law and calls out the underminers. The reformational judge may be just one, but that one could influence thousands. And if not in that judge’s day, perhaps that judge can lay the foundation for a future generation to rise up and shake off the chains of tyranny and return to the rule of law. A return to truth and integrity in the judiciary.

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Opinion | Combatting the opioid crisis at home and across the country

Martha Roby

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There are countless important issues currently facing our state and nation. From our ongoing conversations with North Korea to the continuing need for enhanced security at the southern border, there’s no shortage of priorities that warrant discussion. Unfortunately, there is one very serious issue that continues to make headlines: the horrific opioid epidemic that is gripping our state and the entire country.

I’m sure most of us know someone whose life has been affected by opioid abuse. Whether it’s prescription pain relievers or synthetic opioids like fentanyl, the crisis has only gotten worse. 64,070 people died from overdoses in our country in 2016, and 756 of those individuals were Alabamians. Now, in 2018, the problem has not improved. Did you know that 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioid drugs every single day? Just this year alone, it is estimated that more than 2 million Americans will suffer from opioid addiction.

I’m pleased that last October, President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency. This epidemic has been wreaking havoc on communities and families across our country for far too long. While the statistics are certainly shocking, this is about so much more than numbers. Hundreds of thousands of real American people with lives, careers, and families have lost the battle with opioid drug abuse. That’s why the House has made combating this crisis a top priority over the last several years.

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You may remember that back in 2016, Congress passed the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and the 21st Century Cures Act. Earlier this year, we provided $4 billion in government funding specifically to address the opioid crisis. Building upon this work, the House recently passed dozens of meaningful bills to further combat the opioid epidemic, and I’d like to share the four ways we are using this legislation to help fight this serious issue.

First, with the recently passed legislation, the House is focusing on treatment and recovery. Our bills improve and expand access to treatment and recovery services, provide incentives for enhanced care, and establish comprehensive opioid recovery centers. Hundreds of thousands of Americans from all walks of life are currently trapped by addiction, and it is imperative that we provide the resources to treat their addiction and help them recover.

Second, we’re aiming for prevention. Opioids are an important part of modern day medical care for pain treatment, but they are prescribed entirely too often – and at alarming rates. Our legislation addresses these high prescribing rates while enhancing prescription drug monitoring programs. We have the technology, and it’s past time we used it to more effectively address this crisis. Our legislation also encourages non-addictive opioid alternatives, when practical, to treat pain, and improves the data that allows us to identify and help at-risk patients before the problem becomes dangerously serious.

Third, we’re making efforts to better protect communities of all sizes throughout the country by giving law enforcement the tools necessary to remove dangerous drugs. Our bills also enable us to better intercept illicit opioids at international mail facilities and improve access to federal resources for local communities.

Last but certainly not least, we’re fighting fentanyl. The legislation we passed in the House allows us to better tackle these ever-changing synthetic drugs, crack down on foreign shipments of illicit drugs, and provide grants for communities to combat fentanyl that is destroying lives as we speak.

I am proud of the efforts we’ve made in the House recently to press forward in our fight against this horrible crisis gripping our state and nation, but our work is far from complete. We owe it to the more than 40,000 Americans who die every year – and their families – to push on until strong progress is made. You can read more about our work to combat the opioid epidemic by visiting www.opioidcrisis.gop.

 

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Opinion | Fighting the opioid epidemic

Bradley Byrne

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For too long, a problem of epic proportion has been growing outside of the headlines in the United States: the opioid epidemic.  The reality is that we can no longer wait to take action.  Drug overdose is now a leading cause of death in the United States.  One hundred seventy-five Americans are dying every day from this crisis. From big cities to small towns, the opioid epidemic has hit our communities hard.

Unfortunately, Alabama has not been spared.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Alabama ranks highest in the nation as having more opioid prescriptions than people.  Alabama also ranks number one as the highest prescribing state in the nation for opioid pain reliever prescriptions. These statistics are incredibly alarming.

An opioid is a type of narcotic derived from the opium poppy, which includes drugs such as morphine, codeine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone. While these drugs are often prescribed in response to injuries and body pains, they can be prone to abuse and addiction.

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The reality is many of the people who become addicted to opioids first start taking the drugs legally after receiving a prescription from a doctor.  For example, I have heard testimony from athletes who suffer a sports-related injury, undergo surgery, and then become addicted to opioids during the recovery process.  In many cases, this addiction can escalate, driving individuals to street drugs like heroin.

Almost all of us have a loved one or know somebody who has been affected by this terrible epidemic.  The personal stories are what make this nightmare a harsh reality.  Right here in Southwest Alabama, I have heard far too many stories about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.  The impacts of this crisis reach far beyond the person suffering from addiction to parents, to children, to brothers and sisters.  So many have been hurt.

On October 26, 2017, President Trump announced that his administration would declare the opioid crisis a Nationwide Public Health Emergency.  On a strongly bipartisan basis alongside President Trump, Congress is also responding.

In March, the House voted to set aside $4 million toward combating the opioid crisis in the government funding bill for Fiscal Year 2018.  We kept up the momentum last week when the House passed over 25 targeted bills to help prevent and treat opioid addiction and abuse while also ensuring our nation’s drug laws are working to stop the flow of illegal drugs.

One such bill that passed the House is the THRIVE Act, which creates a program to provide low-income individuals recovering from opioid and other substance use disorders with a clean, safe, and structured environment following rehabilitation.

Additionally, the House passed the STOP Act, which aims to halt opioids like fentanyl from coming into America from other countries through a loophole at the Postal Service. The majority of opioids arrive to America through the mail from other nations, such as China, Mexico and Canada. So, this legislation represents an important step to help solve the problem.

It is clear that our work to end the opioid epidemic is far from over.  However, I was pleased to see such strong bipartisan support for many opioid bills this week as we work to make a real difference on behalf of the American people.  You can learn more about the legislation we are working on at www.opioidcrisis.gop.

We cannot and will not sit back and allow the opioid crisis to take the lives of the people we love. We must fight back and ensure Americans get the help they need. I look forward to continuing the work with President Trump to end this epidemic once and for all.

 

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Opinion | Electric vehicles make sense for Alabama drivers

Mark Bentley

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As many as 50 million Americans are about to flip the switch over to electric automobiles with their next purchase, according to the American Automobile Association. A recent survey conducted by the AAA found that popularity of electric cars is trending upwards. With infrastructure and availability all here, Alabama can lead the charge toward electric vehicles.

In its survey, AAA asked Americans if they were considering electric vehicles for their next car purchase. The survey found that 20 percent of Americans say their next vehicle will be an electric car – up 5 percent from 2017.

The Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition encourages Alabamians to make the move to an alternative fuel vehicle, such as an electric car. Electric vehicles offer nothing but benefits, from being more cost-efficient due to cheaper fuel to less expensive maintenance to being environmentally friendly.

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Alabama’s relationship with Mercedes-Benz could be a factor in the state’s future with electric vehicles, too. The automaker announced in January it would be rolling out an electric version of each of its vehicles by 2022. With Mercedes – and most other automakers – launching more electric options, there have never been more alternative fuel vehicle options than we have today.

The Tuscaloosa County facility is the only Mercedes plant in the United States, and it will play a central role in the production of these electric vehicles. As these electric vehicles begin to be produced by the people of Alabama, the next logical step is for them to begin driving them as well.

There has never been a better time to switch over to electric. It is a common misconception that it is a hassle to charge your electric car, whether that be at home or on the road. Charging at home can be done through a 120-amp power supply, which is the same three-prong outlet that powers your television.

The Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition is determined to make driving an electric vehicle in Alabama comfortable by assisting in getting proper infrastructure in place. Alabama currently has 84 electric charging stations, and a total of 198 charging outlets scattered across the state in almost all major cities.

More and more charging stations will continue to pop up across the state as more electric vehicles hit the streets. Current electric charging stations can be found at convenient locations in public, and some residential areas. The new Tesla charging stations in downtown Birmingham are just one prominent example. Several online sites, such as plugshare.com, provide charger locations.

The Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition serves as the principal coordinating point for clean, alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicle activities in Alabama. The ACFC is part of the national network of nearly 100 Clean Cities coalitions that bring together stakeholders in the public and private sectors to deploy alternative and renewable fuels, idle-reduction measures, fuel economy improvements and emerging technologies.

According to Alabama AAA PR and Marketing Director Clay Ingram, our state is warming up to electric vehicles as the technology and infrastructure begins to develop at a rapid pace.

“We have come a long way in accepting this, in a short number of years,” Ingram said. “We love our vehicles in Alabama, and I think there is a lot of room for (electric vehicles) as the technology continues to develop.”

With an average gas price of $2.91 – its highest cost since 2014. Gas prices are expected to increase over time without any anticipation of dropping. The average American spends $1,400 on gasoline a year, while average electric vehicle charging costs are $540 annually. Unlike gasoline cars, electric vehicles don’t typically require oil changes, fuel filters, spark plug replacements or emission checks. In electric vehicles, even brake pad replacements are rare due to the fact regenerative braking returns energy to the battery.

With all the aforementioned factors in mind, it is no surprise that the AAA estimated a below-average cost of ownership with electric vehicles. Electric cars also are the least expensive when it comes to yearly maintenance.

Since the 1970s, lawmakers in the United States have been putting effort into facilitating the research and growth of electric cars. The urge to reduce carbon emissions has given electric car production a lift. Electric vehicles emit an average of 4,500 pounds of CO2, with gasoline cars emitting more than double that.

This current shift to electric will not only have an environmental impact, but also an economic one. According the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States has made progress in importing less oil, but still imports nearly 20 percent of what is consumed. The increasing use of electricity as an alternative fuel will further push the United States toward economic independence from foreign countries.

The benefits to driving an electric car are endless! To learn more about the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition and advice on purchasing an alternative fuel vehicle, please visit www.alabamacleanfuels.org.

Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition, a nonprofit membership-based organization, is the state’s principal coordinating point for alternative fuels and a member of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program. The promotion of clean, renewable, domestic energy sources helps reduce our dependence on foreign oil, improves local air quality and increases economic development opportunities in our local communities. For more information, please visit www.AlabamaCleanFuels.org or call 205-402-2755.

 

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Opinion | There are three types of judges

by Win Johnson Read Time: 9 min
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