By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
SHORTER—The sorted case that has become Luther Strange verses VictoryLand just keeps getting more unusual.
Last Friday around 5:00 p.m., the State ABC Board announced final approval for a expanded liquor license for Milton McGregor’s VictoryLand.
According to a report in the Montgomery Advertiser, the ABC Board said, “‘after considering the testimony, substantial documentary evidence and arguments it could not conclude the specific gaming and machines at VictoryLand were illegal and that the legality or illegality would have to be determined in court.”
The Attorney General said the ruling by the ABC Board was a moot point.
But attorneys for VictoryLand don’t exactly see it as a moot, they see it as an opening.
McGregor’s attorney, Joe Espy, said, “When we had an opportunity to be heard at the ABC Board proceedings, the ABC Board, which is a state agency, determined that there was not sufficient evidence to show that our machines were illegal…therefore, we are encouraged.”
A hearing had been set for March 19 concerning the search warrant issued to raid VictoryLand. Of that hearing Espy said, “In the search warrant proceedings VictoryLand did not have any opportunity to present its side. The court has said in that case the only ruling was on the search warrant, they are not ruling on the merits.
We believe if we had an opportunity to be heard on the search warrant case we would have gotten a similar ruling.” But the search warrant case has hit a snag with the AG’s office filing a motion of recusal for Macon County Circuit Court Judge Tom Young in that case as well as in the forfeiture case.
In the motion for recusal it states, “Judge Young’s Refusal To Sign the Search Warrant and His Actions and Commentary After Being Ordered to Sign a Search Warrant Indicate a Prejudice and Bias Toward the State’s Evidence in this Case.”
It further goes on to state that, “On January 25, 2013, the State of Alabama filed its Petition for a Writ of Mandamus after Judge Young refused to sign a search warrant for the VictoryLand casino. The Supreme Court of Alabama issued a sealed Order on February 15, 2013, directing Judge Young to sign the search warrant ‘immediately’ and further ordered that “this proceeding and this order shall remain under seal until further order of this Court following the execution of the warrant.’ The sealed Supreme Court Order was hand delivered by the Marshall for the Supreme Court of Alabama on the afternoon of Friday, February 15, 2013. After the Attorney General’s Office received its copy of the Supreme Court Order, the two investigators that had previously presented Judge Young with probable cause evidence in support of the search warrant immediately went to meet with Judge Young again at the Tallapoosa County Courthouse. The investigators waited outside of Judge Young’s courtroom for the Judge to conclude court and then attempted to present the search warrant to Judge Young for his signature as ordered by the Supreme Court. When Judge Young stepped down from his bench, one of the investigators followed the Judge out of the courtroom, calling his name several times, in an effort to get his attention and discuss the search warrant. Despite the Supreme Court of Alabama’s Order to sign the warrant ‘immediately,’ Judge Young refused to speak with the investigators an told them, ‘I don’t have time for this right now, I will see y’all later.’ Judge went on to say that he was ‘late for a show’ and he exited the building. Even though he was in the physical presence of the investigators, Judge Young refused to ‘immediately’ sign the search warrant as ordered by the Alabama Supreme Court. After leaving several telephone messages for Judge Young, one of the investigators received a return phone call from Judge Young later that evening and the Judge agreed to meet on Saturday, February 16, 2013. The investigators met with Judge Young the next morning and presented the search warrant for the Judge’s signature. Instead of simply signing the search warrant as ordered by the Supreme Court, the Judge wrote a long note on the bottom of the warrant where he expressed his strong negative views about the State’s evidence and went on to disclose the existence of the sealed mandamus proceeding on the face of the warrant even though the Supreme Court Order stated ‘this proceeding and this order shall remain under seal until further order of this Court following the execution of the warrant.’
“Judge Young’s comments, accusations, and insinuations would lead a reasonable person to question his impartiality in these proceedings. The comments indicate a direct personal bias or prejudice against the State’s evidence in this matter. His written comments on the warrant also indicate his strong preconceived judgment of the State’s evidence and his biased views of pursuing criminal or civil actions against the VictoryLand casino.”
According to Espy, the judge has basically three option, “The judge himself first looks at it and makes a decision as to what, if anything, he wants to do. The second option would be he could issue an order asking us to reply to it since we have not filed anything. The third option is he could have a hearing.”
As of the time of this report we have not heard what Judge Young has decided.
Zeta keeps tracking toward the Gulf Coast
Tropical Storm Zeta is currently in the Gulf after impacting the Yucatan Peninsula. It is currently forecast to impact the Gulf Coast on Wednesday. Currently the maximum sustained winds are 70 miles per hour.
Zeta is moving to the northwest at fourteen miles per hour. Its present predicted track takes it into the northern Gulf of Mexico and impacts the Louisiana gulf coast near Grand Isle, Louisiana as a category one hurricane. It will continue on to Mississippi and Alabama bringing rainfall and isolated severe weather to much of the state of Alabama.
While Zeta is not currently predicted to come ashore on the Alabama Gulf Coast, hurricanes do move and take different routes and that is not completely out of the realm of possibility. Residents of Baldwin and Mobile Counties are advised to watch the weather very closely and have their hurricane plan updated and handy.
ABC 33/40 meteorologist James Spann said, “Most of the rain is displaced to the north and east of the center once inland, and the risk of isolated tornadoes is south of the track.”
Mobile and Baldwin Counties are under tropical storm watch. The tropical storm watch extends east to the Walton/Okaloosa County line in the Florida Panhandle.
Spann warned that winds could gust to 50 miles per hour along the Alabama coast on Wednesday and Wednesday night, and to 45 mph at places like Pensacola and Navarre Beach. Inland, winds up to 45 mph are possible across parts of Southwest and Central Alabama Wednesday night.
Spann said that a few trees could be blown down, but major tree and power line damage is not expected. A few isolated tornadoes are possible over the southern half of Alabama Wednesday night. A “marginal risk” (level 1/5) has been defined.
Stay away from the water, because dangerous rip currents are likely along the coast from Gulf Shores to Panama City Beach today and Wednesday.
The rain amounts will be heaviest across Southwest Alabama, where three to four inches are expected. Most other parts of Alabama will see one to three inches. Major flooding issues are not expected since Zeta is expected to move along quickly out of the state.
Spann said that most for most of Alabama the significant rain will be over by md-morning Thursday.
The Alabama Gulf Coast is still recovering from Hurricane Sally which came ashore near Gulf Shores in September.
Barry Moore endorsed by FarmPAC
Monday, the Barry Moore for Congress campaign thanked the Alabama Farmers Federation political action committee, FarmPAC, for endorsing Moore in next week’s Second Congressional District general election race.
“I’ve always been proud of the fact that I grew up on a farm,” Moore said in a statement. “Farm life teaches you to respect God’s good earth and everything in it. It taught me the value of hard work, and that not everything, like the weather, will always go the way you want it to no matter what you do or how hard you work. That’s something I think a lot of people these days could do with learning.”
“I’m pleased that FarmPAC has seen fit to endorse me in this election,” Moore said. “I’ll continue to be a strong supporter of our farmers and all the businesses that support and rely on them, just like I’ve always been. District 2 is an agricultural district first and foremost, and we can’t forget that.”
“I look forward to working in the next Congress to support Alabama’s farmers and agribusiness by making it easier for them to access new markets and new technologies,” Moore added. “We also need to make sure they aren’t weighed down by excessive regulations and have the backing they need from Washington to compete globally. I have every confidence that, given a chance, Alabama’s farmers can compete with anyone, anywhere. My job in Congress will be to make sure they have that chance.”
To see the complete list of FarmPAC endorsements:
FarmPAC had endorsed Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman in the Republican primary. He was bested by Moore in the Republican primary runoff.
Moore is the Republican nominee in the Second Congressional District race on November 3rd. He faces Democrat Phyllis Harvey-Hall for the open seat.
Moore is a veteran, small businessman, husband, and father of four from Enterprise. Moore and his wife, Heather, own a waste management business in Enterprise. Moore was elected to the Alabama House of Representatives in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.
Incumbent Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) is retiring from Congress after five terms.
Amy Coney Barrett confirmed to the Supreme Court
Monday evening, the U.S. Senate finally confirmed Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama) voted in favor of Barrett’s confirmation and delivered a powerful floor speech urging his fellow Senator to vote in support of Judge Barrett’s nomination to serve as the next associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. The Senate confirmed Judge Barrett by a vote of 52 to 48.
“I am proud to have voted to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to serve as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court,” Sen. Shelby said. “Throughout my career in the Senate, I have never seen a more eminently qualified judicial nominee. Not only has she demonstrated a deep commitment to the Constitution and its protections established by our Founding Fathers, but she has also displayed incredible integrity, humility, and impartiality. I am confident she will serve our country with honor on our nation’s highest court.”
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) has also championed Barrett’s cause with a widely distributed op-ed written in favor of Barrett’s confirmation. Ivey applauded the news saying, “Today is a great day for our country and a signal to every little girl – and boy – that the most qualified individual will get the job.”
“I applaud the swift Senate confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court of the United States,” Ivey said in a statement. “Amy Coney Barrett’s willingness to serve, despite a hostile political environment, is proof of her strong character and a testament to her commitment to upholding the laws of our country for future generations.”
Ivey warned against a future Biden administration potentially packing the court to undo Trump’s reshaping of the Court.
“Previous suggestions from progressives that we need to fundamentally change the court system is a clear attempt at a political power grab to load the bench with judicial activists, not arbiters of the law,” the Governor said. “In the words of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, ‘Nine seems to be a good number…it would be that – one side saying – when we’re in power, we’re going to enlarge the number of judges, so we would have more people who would vote the way we want them to.’”
Ivey thanked President Donald J. Trump (R) for his choise of Barrett to replace the deceased Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
“I thank the president for this extraordinary selection,” Ivey said. “It is evident that President Trump has put forward a woman who is arguably one of the most qualified picks during the past century. Alabama looks forward to Justice Barrett serving our country with honor and integrity for decades to come. It is my hope and prayer that despite political differences, we can celebrate the tremendous accomplishments of our newest Supreme Court Justice, come together as a nation and continue achieving great success.”
Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) said, “Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation today marks a huge win for those of us who believe judges must uphold the Constitution and federal law without inserting personal political views into decisions.”
“In her nomination acceptance speech, Amy Coney Barrett simply explained her judicial philosophy by saying, ‘Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.’ This perfectly incapsulates the philosophy America needs more of on our federal courts,” Brooks explained. “America’s Founding Fathers brilliantly created three branches of government, with each being a check on the other two, and each having a defined role. Congress makes law, the Executive Branch implements law, and the Judiciary interprets and applies law. In my view, America is burdened with too many liberal, activist federal justices and judges who fail to abide by their role as limited by the Constitution. I am pleased President Trump nominated and the U.S. Senate confirmed a judge who understands the importance of limiting her role to that intended by America’s founding fathers.”
“The Senate held a final confirmation vote tonight to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court,” Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) announced. “I wish my sincere congratulations to Judge Barrett on her new position serving on the highest court in the land.”
“I send my heartiest congratulations to the new Justice Barrett,” Congressman Gary Palmer (R-Hoover) said. “President Trump could not have chosen a better candidate for the Supreme Court. Her impeccable legal record, faithfulness to the Constitution, and steady demeanor during her Senate hearings all indicate that she will serve our country with distinction and integrity. The confirmation of an eminently qualified, fair, and constitutionalist justice should instill confidence in the American people. I believe that Justice Barrett will refrain from being swayed by the political winds, and that she will enforce the laws as written, reserving the act of legislating to the Congress. I look forward to her service on our nation’s highest court and extend my congratulations to her and her family.”
“I expect great things from Justice Barrett,” said Second Congressional District candidate Barry Moore (R-Enterprise). “She is an incredibly qualified jurist, and her position on the Constitution and the role of the Supreme Court as the final interpreters of the law, not makers of new laws, will be welcome on the Court.”
“She will be a strong voice for common-sense, Constitutional interpretation of laws for years to come,” Moore predicted. “I’m happy that President Trump did his duty to fill vacancies on the Court as they occur by appointing her rapidly. I’m also happy that the Senate moved forward in a timely manner to confirm her. Now Judge Barrett can take her place as the ninth Justice, and spare us the problems of an evenly-split Court. Given all that’s happened recently, I’d be very surprised if one of Judge Barrett’s first cases didn’t involve issues with the general election on November 3rd. I trust her to rule fairly, and I’m hoping that any issues about the election can be settled quickly by the Court.”
Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan said, “Once again, the U.S. Senate has confirmed one of President Donald Trump’s eminently qualified nominees to the United States Supreme Court. Amy Coney Barrett is an excellent addition to the high court. A jurist out of the originalist model, Justice Barrett will decide each case on its merits by overlaying it with the Constitution and not legislating from the bench.”
“We offer our thanks to Senator Richard Shelby who consistently listens to the majority of his constituents,” Lathan continued. “Senator Shelby wisely considered Justice Barrett’s sterling credentials and voted ‘yes’ on her confirmation.”
“Trump Team Leader and former State Rep. Perry O. Hooper Jr. said, “This is an Historic Victory for President Trump. This is the third US Supreme Court Justice appointed by the President and confirmed by the US Senate. The President promised he would appoint Conservative Constitutionalist to the US Supreme Court and the President’s promises were kept. This confirmation also confirms Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell’s Legacy by confirming another Conservative Jurist.”
Hooper’s father, Perry Hooper Sr. was the first Republican Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court since Reconstruction ending over one hundred years of Democratic Party dominance of the state’s highest court.
“I’m thrilled the Supreme Court will have another Constitutional originalist Justice and the Senate has confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to be Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court,” said Club for Growth President David McIntosh. “Justice Barrett will be a pro-growth Justice, her judicial philosophy will have a positive impact on limiting agency overregulation, and her confirmation bodes well for economic liberty and property rights. Throughout her confirmation it became clear that the more Americans learn about Barrett, the more they like her, and the confirmation of such an accomplished pragmatic originalist stands in stark contrast to the liberals who want to remake American institutions like the Supreme Court to fit their radical socialist views.”
Judge Barrett currently serves as a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and formerly clerked for Justice Antonin Scalia of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Laurence Silberman of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Prior to serving on the federal bench, she began teaching as a professor of law at Notre Dame Law School, where she was awarded the “Distinguished Professor of the Year” award on three separate occasions. She is a devout Catholic and mother of seven, including two adopted Haitian children. She is President Trump’s third Supreme Court appointment.
Justice Clarence Thomas administered the oath of office to Justice Barrett in a ceremony at the White House Monday night.
Some commentators have suggested that this new court is the most conservative High Court the country has seen since the 1930s.
Jones votes against Amy Coney Barrett confirmation
Monday, U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Alabama) voted with his party and against the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court. Jones’
“No” vote on Barrett denounced by Republicans including his general election opponent Coach Tommy Tuberville.
“This process has been perhaps one of the most blatantly hypocritical in the history of the Senate and has further eroded trust in the independence of the Supreme Court in the eyes of the American people,” Jones said in a statement. “By forcing this vote only eight days before an election, Mitch McConnell has prioritized temporary political gain over the long term integrity of both institutions. I also believe his decision to force through this confirmation instead of negotiating a bipartisan COVID relief package is an insult to the millions of Americans who are suffering as a result of this pandemic.”
“I voted no today because I refuse to be a party to Mitch McConnell’s power grab, to the hyper-politicization of the Senate and the courts, and to denying the American people a voice in this process while voting for the next President is already underway,” Jones added. “Now that Justice Barrett has been confirmed, it is my sincere hope that she will rule in a way that protects our institutions, our democracy, and the rule of law.”
Republicans attacked Doug Jones for his vote against Judge Barrett’s confirmation.
“Senator Doug Jones continued to thumb his nose at our state’s majority with his ‘no’ vote,” said Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan. “He has once again put the interests of his left wing groups first while ignoring those he is supposed to represent. The ‘third senator from California’ has repeatedly failed to remember the majority of our state. Alabama will relieve him of his duties on November 3rd when Tommy Tuberville is elected as Alabama’s new U. S. Senator. Doug Jones will be a paragraph in a history book as future political pundits study how to be a failure in the arena of public service – ignoring the majority ends your tenure.”
Republican Senate nominee Coach Tommy Tuberville was sharply critical of his liberal general election opponent.
“Well…liberal, Socialist Doug Jones has done it again,” Tuberville said. “Instead of standing up for our conservative Alabama values and voting to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, Doug Jones voted against her nomination and represented the liberal beliefs of his high-dollar campaign donors in California and New York.”
“But Doug can’t help himself because he’s a liberal to his core – just like Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Bernie Sanders, and AOC,” Tuberville continued. “Take a look at his record. Doug Jones opposed Kavanaugh and Barrett, he supports late-term abortion, he fought against building the border wall with Mexico, and in his first speech in the Senate, he announced that Alabama was ready to embrace gun control. Unbelievable. Ever since becoming our temporary senator, Doug Jones has opposed everything Alabamians support and supported everything Alabamians oppose.”
“Anti-Trump Democrat Doug Jones voted no today on the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee Deputy Press Secretary Paige Lindgren. “In September, before the President’s nominee was even announced, Jones stated he would not meet with or vote in favor of any nomination to the court. Jones previously voted against Trump-nominated Justice Brett Kavanaugh.”
“Anti-Trump Democrat Doug Jones has long since given up on representing Alabama, and his vote against Amy Coney Barrett is no different,” said NRSC spokesperson Lindgren continued. “Alabamians overwhelmingly support Justice Barrett’s place on the Supreme Court and yet their junior Senator has obstructed President Trump at every turn. Jones has once again shown that his loyalty lies with Washington Democrats and not Alabama families.”
“The latest poll has Jones down by 14 points against Trump-endorsed Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville,” Lindgren added.
To see Coach Tuberville’s full statement: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/FMfcgxwKjBPvhTQNKMTDvZZMxLSXzBCQ?projector=1
Judge Barrett won confirmation on a 52 to 48 vote. She was given the oath of office at a ceremony at the White House by Justice Clarence Thomas. Barrett fills the vacancy created by the sudden death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The election is next week.