Connect with us

News

Happy Thanksgiving To Everyone

Bill Britt

Published

on

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

What we commonly refer to as the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in 1621. According to writing of the leader of the Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts, William Bradford. In Bradford’s journal “Of Plymouth Plantation” he describes the Pilgrims’ safe arrival at Cape Cod aboard the Mayflower.

“Being thus arived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees & blessed ye God of heaven, who had brought them over ye vast & furious ocean, and delivered them from all ye periles & miseries therof, againe to set their feete on ye firme and stable earth, their proper elemente.”

While the spellings, the names and national origins have changed many have set foot of the “firm and stable earth,” on what we now know as the United States, falling upon their knees and blessing the God of heaven. The Pilgrims came to these shores to find the religious freedoms they had been denied in the Old World.

Another group came to this new land to find a new secular or economic freedom. They sought a land were they could throw off the shackles of class and poverty and use their talents to build an empire of wealth.
They did not come to America looking for religious freedom, many came looking for freedom from the religion of rulers king or minister. They looked for a secular freedom that allowed them to live free beholden to none but their own conscience. Religious and secular freedoms have always had an uneasy alliance in the New World, but one that has worked for the most part to the betterment of nation.

Our nation’s founders in their wisdom added the First Amendment to the US Constitution known as the The Establishment Clause:?

The First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion….”

Public Service Announcement

The Nolo’s Plain English Law Dictionary states,

“Contained in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, this clause prohibits the government from establishing an official religion. It also prohibits the government from preferring one religion over another, preferring religion over non religion, or vice versa.”

As the Court noted in 1947,

ADVERTISEMENT

“A large proportion of the early settlers of this country came here from Europe to escape the bondage of laws which compelled them to support and attend government-favored churches.” Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1, 8 (1947). The Court went on to emphasize that “no one group throughout the Colonies can rightly be given entire credit for having aroused the sentiment that culminated in adoption of the Bill of Rights’ provisions embracing religious liberty,” and that the principles were as apt at the time of the Court’s decision as they had been when the First Amendment was originally passed in 1792.

The words separation of Church and State do not appear anywhere in the US Constitution. However, on January 1, 1802, Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist association concerning the “wall of separation of church and state.”

Jefferson’s metaphor of a wall of separation has been cited repeatedly by the U.S. Supreme Court. In Reynolds v. United States (1879) the Court wrote that Jefferson’s statements “may be accepted almost as an authoritative declaration of the scope and effect of the [First] Amendment.” In Everson v. Board of Education (1947), Justice Hugo Black wrote: “In the words of Thomas Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect a wall of separation between church and state.”

Some would argue that the Court has not always interpreted the constitutional principle as absolute, and the proper extent of separation between government and religion in the country remains an ongoing subject of impassioned, often hostile, debate.

So for many, we celebrate Thanksgiving as a holiday of giving thanks to God for the blessings we have received. I am thankful that the state cannot dictate what church I attend or if I adhere to any religious doctrine. While I personally try to follow what I understand as a strict textual interpretation of the Word of God, I certainly do not wish for government to compel anyone to believe as I do.

In this there is a yearning for freedom from religion, this too is something that I believe is emblematic of our republic. The idea of free speech and for the freedom of action that follows from free thought is imperative to a truly free society. Perhaps the essence of the argument for the separation between church and state is in the argument for the separation between government force and freedom of thought.
This idea that the state exists not to enforce public morality, but to protect man’s rights from being violated by other men, is something that was inviolate to thinkers like John Locke.

Locke maintains that, “Covetousness, uncharitableness, idleness, and many other things are sins by the consent of men, which yet no man ever said were to be punished by the magistrate. The reason is because they are not prejudicial to other men’s rights, nor do they break the public peace of societies… the business of laws is not to provide for the truth of opinions, but for the safety and security of the commonwealth and of every particular man’s goods and person…”

In this opinion a nation should not be granted powers to compel its citizens with a rule of commandment, be it Christian, Muslim, Hindu or any other religious construct.

Separation of church and state for many Americans does not mean a separation of God and Country. But one can argue that the state should not hold to itself the right to legislate a particular brand of morality. Certainly, most Americans would find Sharia Law as practiced by some Muslim countries as an abomination in Western thinking. Yet, governments do legislate morality. In our country, it has been primarily the Judeo-Christian ethos that has been the prime mover of our moral law. But, there is always an ebb and flow between moral law and criminalizing private behavior.

Prohibition was a law that certainly held the high ground, where a vocal minority, acting on heartfelt religious beliefs, attempted to force a broad moral consensus. In the end, this moral majority did not exist. In the last General Election it can be argued that those who wanted a more moderate society prevailed.

While, on Thanksgiving, I will thank God for His bountiful blessing. I will also be thankful I live in a country where others will not. We are all welcome Americans and no matter how we celebrate Thanksgiving, we all will have Black Friday, to love or loath.

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.

Advertisement

Economy

Governor announces auto supplier IAC plans Alabama expansion

IAC is committing $34.3 million in new capital investment to expand its new manufacturing facility located in Tuscaloosa County.

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

(STOCK PHOTO)

Gov. Kay Ivey announced Monday that International Automotive Components Group North America Inc. plans to invest over $55.9 million in expansion projects that will create 182 jobs at two Alabama facilities.

“International Automotive Components is a leading global auto supplier, and I am pleased that this world-class company is growing significantly in Alabama and creating good jobs in Cottondale and Anniston,” Ivey said. “IAC’s growth plans show that Alabama’s dynamic auto industry continues to expand despite today’s challenging environment.”

Nick Skwiat is the executive vice president and president of IAC North America.

“Alabama was the logical choice due to its skilled workforce and proximity to the customer,” Skwiat said. “We are excited to see the continued growth of the automotive industry in Alabama and we plan to grow right along with it. We thank the Governor and Secretary Canfield for their leadership in this sector.”

IAC is committing $34.3 million in new capital investment to expand its new manufacturing facility located in Tuscaloosa County. This facility will produce door panels and overhead systems for original equipment manufacturers. That project will create 119 jobs at the production site in Cottondale.

IAC also plans to invest $21.6 million at its manufacturing facility located in the former Fort McClellan in Anniston. That East Alabama project will create another 63 jobs.

This project builds on a milestone 2014 expansion that doubled the size of the Calhoun County facility. There IAC manufactures automotive interior components and systems. Key components produced at the Anniston plant include door panels, trim systems and instrument panels for original equipment manufacturers.

Public Service Announcement

IAC Group is a leading global supplier of innovative and sustainable instrument panels, consoles, door panels, overhead systems, bumper fascias and exterior ornamentation for original equipment manufacturers.

IAC is headquartered in Luxembourg and has more than 18,000 employees at 67 locations in 17 countries. The company operates manufacturing facilities in eight U.S. states.

“With operations around the globe, IAC is the kind of high-performance company that we want in Alabama’s auto supply chain to help fuel sustainable growth,” said Alabama Commerce Secretary Greg Canfield. “We look forward to working with IAC and facilitating its future growth in this strategic industrial sector.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Danielle Winningham is the executive director of the Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority.

“International Automotive Components is a valued part of Tuscaloosa County’s automotive sector,” Winningham said. “We are grateful for IAC’s investment in our community and the career opportunities available to our area workforce as a result of their investment.”

“The City of Anniston is excited that IAC has made the decision to expand here. I have enjoyed working with the leadership at IAC, the Calhoun County EDC, and the state of Alabama to get this project finalized,” said Anniston Mayor Jack Draper. “This is even further evidence that Anniston is indeed open for business.”

Only Michigan has more automobile manufacturing jobs than the state of Alabama. Honda, Mercedes, Hyundai, Polaris, Toyota and soon Mazda all have major automobile assembly plants in the state of Alabama.

Continue Reading

National

AUM poll suggests Alabamians divided on prison reform proposals

90 percent of Alabamians favor some type of reform to the state’s prison systems, but there is little agreement on what efforts should be pursued.

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

(STOCK PHOTO)

Last week, a poll by Auburn University at Montgomery’s Department of Political Science and Public Administration found that approximately 90 percent of Alabamians favor some type of reform to the state’s prison systems, but there is little agreement on which reform efforts should be pursued.

  • 36.6 percent: “Reduce or eliminate criminal sentences for non-violent crimes.”
  • 30.3 percent: “Parole inmates convicted of non-violent crimes.”
  • 25.9 percent: “Increase funding to improve existing prison facilities.”
  • 21.4 percent: “Construct new prisons to be operated by the state.”
  • 14.5 percent: “Contract with private firms to construct new prisons the state would then lease to operate.”
  • 27.5 percent: “Increase funding for prison staff such as correctional officers, healthcare providers, educators, etc.”
  • 15.2 percent: “Increase funding for probation officers.”
  • 9.9 percent: “I support none of these options.”

The totals do not add up to 100 because it was a “select all that apply” poll.

Gov. Kay Ivey’s plan of signing a decades-long lease with private prison contractors was the least popular idea. Repairing the existing prisons 25.9 percent support while constructing new prisons had just 21.4 percent support.

The most popular prison reform measures, according to AUM poll director David Hughes, address prison overcrowding through criminal sentencing reforms.

“Approximately 37 percent of respondents support policies to reduce or eliminate sentences for non-violent offenders, and another 30 percent support paroling inmates convicted of non-violent crimes,” Hughes said.

The governor has included justice reform proposals in her all-encompassing plan. Those proposals were going to be considered by the Legislature in the 2020 legislative session but because of the coronavirus, the 2020 legislative session was cut short and the Legislature went home without addressing that or many other issues.

Much less popular is Ivey’s plan to build three new mega-prisons in Escambia, Elmore and Bibb counties.

Public Service Announcement

“Only 21 percent of respondents supported a proposal to build new prisons the state would then directly operate,” Hughes said. “The least popular proposal we polled involved the state contracting with private firms to construct new prisons the state would then lease. Only 14 percent of respondents approved of this reform measure.”

The state has grossly underfunded its prison system for decades and the Alabama Department of Corrections is still dangerously overcrowded and understaffed, despite recent efforts by the Legislature to deal with its chronic underfunding of the system.

A U.S. Justice Department investigation begun by the Obama administration and concluded by the Trump administration declared that the state has the most dangerous prison system in the country. The prisons are plagued by rampant drug use, extreme violence, and the prisons have not done a good job at preparing prisoners to return to society.

ADVERTISEMENT

The poor track record of rehabilitating prisoners means that inmates are released without job skills, education and still battling mental health issues and drug dependency. Too many inevitably reoffend and get sent back to prison exacerbating the overcrowding situation.

The U.S. Department of Justice warned the state in July that it was violating prisoners’ constitutional rights and that the attorney general may file or join lawsuits to intervene. A federal court has already found that the prisons were understaffed by a thousand guards and that inmates were not receiving necessary mental health care.

The AUM Poll was conducted between Sept. 30 and Oct. 3. It solicited online participation from 1,072 registered voters in Alabama. Respondents were weighted according demographic factors such as age, gender, race, education and income to produce a more representative sample of Alabama’s voting age population.

The survey has a 4-point margin of error.

Continue Reading

News

Federal assistance following Sally tops $100 million, one month remains to apply

The deadline to register for assistance from FEMA and the SBA is Nov. 19, 2020.

Staff

Published

on

By

Gov. Kay Ivey took a tour of the damage from Hurricane Sally on the gulf coast Friday September 18, 2020. (Governor's Office/Hal Yeager)

About a month after the federal disaster declaration for Hurricane Sally, over $100 million in federal disaster assistance has been approved for survivors.

The funds include grants from FEMA, the National Flood Insurance Program and low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help with uninsured or underinsured losses.

“Alabamians, particularly in our coastal communities are still working to get back on their feet following the impacts from Hurricane Sally. I remain grateful to the Trump Administration and the team at FEMA for helping provide this immediate relief for Alabamians,” Gov. Kay Ivey said. “I encourage folks in the eligible counties to take advantage of any of this assistance as we work to recover from Hurricane Sally.”

FEMA disaster assistance can help you start on your road to recovery. Alabama homeowners, renters and businesses who had property damage or loss related to Hurricane Sally have one month left to register and apply for federal disaster assistance.

The deadline to register for assistance from FEMA and the SBA is Nov. 19, 2020.

“FEMA is here with our state and federal partners to help Alabama communities and survivors recover from the devastating storm and flooding,” said Allan Jarvis, federal coordinating officer for the Hurricane Sally disaster in Alabama. “Register for assistance if you have uninsured disaster losses.”

Survivors should register even if they have insurance. FEMA cannot duplicate insurance payments, but eligible homeowners and renters may be able to receive FEMA grants or SBA low interest loans for losses not covered by insurance to help pay for basic home repairs, temporary rental assistance and other needs such as replacing personal property.

Public Service Announcement

Survivors in Baldwin, Escambia and Mobile counties have until Thursday, Nov. 19, to apply for federal disaster help.

Register for assistance in one of three ways:

  • Online by logging onto DisasterAssistance.gov
  • The FEMA app: Visit fema.gov/mobile-app or your phone’s app store
  • Call 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. Language translators also are available. Toll-free numbers are open daily from 6 a.m. to midnight CST, seven days a week. Multilingual operators are available.

Survivors who have questions about SBA low-interest disaster loans may contact the Disaster Assistance Customer Service Center by calling 800-659-2955 (TTY 800-877-8339), email at [email protected] or visit SBA’s website at DisasterLoanAssistance.sba.gov.

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue Reading

Courts

Aderholt fully supports Barrett’s confirmation process

Confirmation hearings began last week and a vote on her confirmation is expected in the next week just days before the general election.

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Congressman Robert Aderholt

Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, updated his constituents on the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Aderholt said, “I do support her fully and I know she will defend life, protect the Constitution, and uphold our freedoms.”

Confirmation hearings began last week and a vote on her confirmation is expected in the next week just days before the general election.

“Senate Democrats are not seriously questioning Judge Barrett on her credentials, instead they have decided to attack her character and her beliefs,” Aderholt said. “I am disappointed to see this unfold on the national stage, but I think Judge Barrett stood strong and did well during this first week of hearings.”

“While I do not have a vote in her confirmation process, I do support her fully and I know she will defend life, protect the Constitution, and uphold our freedoms when she is officially sworn in as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court,” Aderholt said.

Barrett is a Notre Dame graduate, has served on the U.S. Seventh Court of Appeals and is a former clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

“I clerked for Justice Scalia more than 20 years ago, but the lessons I learned still resonate,” Barrett said. “His judicial philosophy is mine, too: A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.”

Barrett vowed to keep an open mind on any matter that comes before the court, though Democrats fear she is prepared to overturn Supreme Court precedent on abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act.

Public Service Announcement

That the Republican controlled committee will recommend that Barrett be confirmed appears certain. A vote to confirm Barrett to the nation’s highest court by the full Senate could occur just days ahead of the Nov. 3 election.

President Donald Trump has been the president of the United States for less than four years but if Barrett is confirmed, then he will have selected one third of the U.S. Supreme Court. Barrett fills a place created by the death of the late Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.

Aderholt is in his 12th term representing Alabama’s 4th Congressional District. He faces Democratic nominee Rick Neighbors in the Nov. 3 general election.

ADVERTISEMENT

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement