By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—The idea to rewrite the Alabama State Constitution of 1901 one section at a time was the brain child of the Legislative Republican Super Majority under the direction of Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston) and Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn).
Now, conservative Chief Justice Roy Moore says the Constitutional Revision Commission and its action are unconstitutional and a “usurpation” of the people’s rights. See Moore’s opinion here.
Quoting Founding Father Patrick Henry in his opinion, Justice Moore say that what the Legislature has done constitutes, “’one of awful moment’ to the integrity of our state constitution and to the prerogative of the people to revise the constitution by convention.”
Moore further states that, [by] “Stretching out the constitutional-revision process over a number of years by submitting to the people two, three, or five revised articles per general election under the amendment procedure of § 284 does not change the reality that a nearly total revision of the Alabama Constitution is occurring.”
This Moore concludes is an attempt by the legislative body to “by wresting the convention process from the people.”
He goes on to state that the legislature “has unconstitutionally made itself the paramount mechanism of constitutional revision.”
The opinion offered by Justice Moore came about due to a request under Senate Resolution No. 44, sponsored by Sen. Bryan Taylor (R-Prattville, requesting an advisory opinion on whether the amendments to the Alabama Constitution of 1901 proposed by five senate bills would be constitutionally valid if passed by the legislature and then sent to the voters for ratification pursuant to Sec. 284.
In an odd turn of events, Justice Tom Parker also wrote an opinion about the article-by-article approach, however, the other Supreme Court Justices declined to weigh in on the matter, leaving Moore and Parker were the sole voices of the High Court.
Over the last three years, the Constitutional Revision Commission has rewritten many laws which have appeared on the ballots in statewide elections.
Moore makes it clear that the remedy to the unconstitutional ballots remaining in the State’s Constitution is for a citizen to come forward and challenge the legislators in a court of law.
In his opinion, Moore makes it clear that the, “article-by-article revision process… is a carefully designed plan to deny the people their right to control the revision of the constitution through the convention process.”
This total control and denying the people due process have been a critique made often of the Republican Supermajority swept into office in 2010.
Quoting George Washington, the Chief Justice states that changing a “constitution by a method contrary to that provided in the instrument is ‘usurpation’ and ‘the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.’”
In conclusion Moore wrote, “ the Alabama Constitution states that ‘all political power is inherent in the people,’ who are the rightful engineers in the constitutional locomotive. Any branch of government that wrongfully seeks to hijack the process of constitutional revision must be stopped before the train runs out of control. For the reasons stated above, I would provide the advisory opinion requested and hold that the proposed amendments are constitutionally invalid because, taken as a group and also as a part of the Act No. 2011-197 revision train, they violate the exclusive prerogative of the people to revise their constitution through a constitutional convention held pursuant to § 286.”