By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
When we were all in school we were taught that the Legislative Branch of our government makes the laws, the Executive Branch carries out and enforces the laws made by the Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch of government impartially interprets the laws written by the Congress and protects the public from laws or executive actions which violates the Constitution.
It is not really that simple. But, the system of checks and balances created by the founders has more or less worked for more than 220 years.
On Monday, July 28 U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R) from Alabama warned in a speech on the U.S. Senate floor that President’s announced intention to circumvent Congress by providing unilateral Executive amnesty to roughly half the current illegal alien population is a clear violation of the Constitutional order.
Senator Sessions stated, “We are entering a momentous week as Congress must face the reality that President Obama is moving towards a decision whereby he would issue Executive orders, in direct contravention of long-established American law, that would grant administrative amnesty and work permits for five to six million persons that are unlawfully in this country. This, after Congress has explicitly refused demands to change the law to his desire.”
Sen. Sessions continued, “Current law is plain. Those who enter this great nation by unlawful means or overstaying their visa are subject to removal and are ineligible to work. That is our law. Our law is right and it’s just and it comports with the laws of civilized nations the world over, and if followed will serve the honorable and legitimate interests of this nation and her people. Now the National Journal, TIME magazine, and The Hill and others are reporting that President Obama, sore at Congress, and by implication the American people, plans, by the “end of summer,” by the stroke of a pen, to do that which the law explicitly forbids—provide amnesty and work permits for millions. This would be in contravention of his duty and his oath to see that the laws of the United States are faithfully enforced. And, it would be a direct challenge to the clear powers of Congress to make laws. Congress makes laws, the Executive Branch executes those laws. It’s that simple.”
Sen. Sessions continued, “The President’s actions are astonishing, and are taking our nation into exceedingly dangerous waters, colleagues. Such calculated action strains the constitutional structure of our republic. Such unlawful and unconstitutional action, if taken, cannot stand. No Congress, Republican or Democrat, can allow such action to occur or to be maintained. The people will not stand for it. They must not stand for it. My petition, Mr. President, is that you pull back. It is utterly unacceptable for you to meet with special interest groups, La Raza and others, and then promise action that is contrary to law. Mr. President, such action would be wrong, and it would be an affront to the people of this country which they will never forget. It would be a permanent stain on your presidency. I urge you to make clear that you will not do this.”
Sen. Sessions said, “Now, I am not suggesting negotiations or any parley or any compromise. There is no middle ground on nullifying immigration law by the President. Maybe some of your people, bright young staffers, think the President can intimidate Congress—that the Chief Executive can make such a threat and the lawmakers will just cower under their desks. That is wrong sir. You cannot intimidate Congress—or the American people who sent them here for that matter. Simply put, that which you desire is beyond your lawful reach.”
Sen. Sessions said, “Just as the unlawful DACA amnesty for young people created an unprecedented, unlawful flow of more young people, that initiative has now, it seems, encouraged the President to take even more unlawful action for millions of adults—a ten-fold increase the papers say. And, if millions are given amnesty by executive order, we can be sure that the result will be even more millions of adults in the future coming unlawfully. It will collapse any remaining moral authority of our immigration law, undermine the sovereignty, really, of our nation. If you don’t have a legitimate, lawful system of immigration that you can enforce and abide by, then you’ve undermined the very sovereignty of your nation. It amounts, in effect, to an open-borders policy that has never been the policy of any developed nation that I’m aware of. And it’s been rejected by Congress repeatedly. In effect, the President is preparing to assume for himself the absolute power to set immigration law in America. The absolute power to determine who may enter and who may work—no matter what the law says—by the millions.”
Sessions warned that if President Obama is not stopped in this action and executes, “Such a massive amnesty contrary to law, the moral authority for any immigration enforcement henceforth will be eviscerated. Anyone, the world over, will get the message: Get into America by any method you can and you will never have to leave. We are almost there, but it is not too late.”
Sen. Sessions said that the people, “Have begged and pleaded for our Nation’s immigration laws to be enforced for 30 or 40 years. The politicians have refused. Refused, refused, refused. They have defeated amnesty after amnesty after amnesty, and they will not sit back and allow the President to implement through unlawful fiat what they have defeated through the democratic process. They must not yield to this. There is one thing the powers in Washington fear—that is being voted out of office. Before a Member of Congress acquiesces to any action of this kind, they should consider their responsibility to their constituents. No member, in either party, Republican or Democrat, should support any border legislation that moves through this Senate that does not expressly prohibit these planned executive actions by the President and that prohibits any expenditure of funds to implement them. There can be no retreat on this point, colleagues. We simply need to say that the chief executive of these United States cannot expend any money to execute this unlawful amnesty plan. All of this is grim talk, but the situation is stark. Congressional action this week to bar unilateral, imperial action by the President is surely the best course to head off what could be a constitutional crisis.”
Sen. Sessions said that stopping the Executive amnesty will be good for the President, because it will stop him from taking a step that will mar permanently his presidency and the office of the President; will avoid a major governmental disruption; will protect the rule of law and the constitutional order; will help re-establish the constitutional power of Congress to make laws and perhaps mark the end of this Congress’ acquiescence to executive overreach; and will stop work authorizations for six million illegal aliens who will then be able to take any job in America at a time of high unemployment and falling wages, thereby protecting American workers.
Sen. Sessions said, “The Congress of the United States and the President of the United States are given only limited powers by our Constitution. Mr. President, you work for the people, they do not work for you, and they will not accept nullification of their law passed by their elected representatives. The American people are not going to accept it. They are going to fight this; I am confident that they will. They will resist.”
A defiant Senator Jefferson Beauregard “Jeff” Sessions III said, “So I am calling on the American people to ask their representatives: where do you stand, Senator? Where do you stand on this, Congressman?
All of us were elected by American citizens to serve them and to serve and honor their constitution that is our birthright. Will we answer that call? Where will history record each of us stood at this important time?”
The National anti-amnesty group, “Make Them Listen” has responded to Sen. Jeff Sessions request for action. The group wrote, “Time magazine reports Obama ready to issue amnesty to millions. Sen. Sessions makes emergency request to citizens everywhere to demand their U.S. Rep. withhold all money from President until he is banned from any more unilateral amnesties WILL YOU PLEASE JOIN THE NATIONAL PHONE-IN CAMPAIGN TODAY?” “Sen. Jeff Sessions says the danger of another unilateral mass amnesty from Pres. Obama is very high. This weekend, he has put out an urgent request of us: We are paying for a toll-free number to the Capitol Switchboard to make it as easy as possible for all of you. Here it is: Call toll-free: 1-855-827-2353 Even though most Democrats in the House are currently supporting any kind of amnesty they can get, Democrats as well as Republicans need to be called today. It is important for Democrats — three months before elections — to hear just how unpopular these amnesties are.”
The groups said in their written statement, “The reason we are focusing on the U.S. House of Representatives today is because that is where the main action is taking place right now on the President’s request for billions of dollars to deal with the Border Surge in the Southwest U.S.”
The group quoted Sen. Sessions, “No Member — House or Senate, Democrat or Republican — should support any bill with respect to the border crisis that does not include language explicitly prohibiting the Administration from taking such action (issuing a unilateral amnesty). Congress must foreclose any possibility of these unlawful executive actions before congressional funding is granted. This is an essential precondition.”
They are asking callers to tell the congressional staffer who answers the phone: that you object to Pres. Obama by himself giving another mass amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. The news media are reporting that he plans to do it soon, and you are outraged and secondly that Congress should not give the President any of the money he wants for the Border Surge unless the bill prohibits the President from issuing any more work permits to illegal aliens without congressional approval; tell them to support H.R.5160 by Rep. Blackburn that blocks any more go-it-alone amnesties by a President; and to quote Sen. Sessions.
The group’s message is being promoted in Alabama by Deanna Frankowski and Jennifer Montrose who are organizing a protest on Saturday in front of the Hwy 280 Wal-Mart in Northern Shelby County.
Senator Jeff Sessions is running for a fourth term in the United States Senate this year and has no Republican or Democrat opponent.
Alabama hospitals nearing COVID-19 summer surge levels
Wednesday was the 18th straight day with more than 1,000 people in hospitals in Alabama with COVID-19.
Alabama hospitals reported caring for 1,483 people infected with COVID-19 on Wednesday, the highest number of patients since Aug. 11, when the state was enduring its summer surge. Wednesday was also the 18th straight day with more than 1,000 people in hospitals in Alabama with COVID-19.
The seven-day average of hospitalizations was 1,370 on Wednesday, the 36th straight day of that average rising. The Alabama Department of Public Health reported 2,453 new cases Wednesday. The 14-day average of new cases was — for the eighth day in a row — at a record high of 2,192.
Across the country, more than 80,000 people were hospitalized for COVID-19 on Tuesday, a record high and the 15th straight day of record hospitalizations nationwide, according to the COVID Tracking Project, a coronavirus tracking website.
The CDC this week recommended people not travel for Thanksgiving to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“The only way for us to successfully get through this pandemic is if we work together,” said Dr. Kierstin Kennedy, UAB’s chief of hospital medicine, in a message Tuesday. “There’s no one subset of the community that’s going to be able to carry the weight of this pandemic and so we all have to take part in wearing our masks, keeping our distance, making sure that we’re washing our hands.”
Kennedy said the best way she can describe the current situation is “Russian Roulette.”
“Not only in the form of, maybe you get it and you don’t get sick or maybe you get it and you end up in the ICU,” Kennedy said, “but if you do end up sick, are you going to get to the hospital at a time when we’ve got capacity, and we’ve got enough people to take care of you? And that is a scary thought.”
The Alabama Department of Public Health on Wednesday reported an increase of 60 confirmed and probable COVID-19 deaths. Deaths take time to confirm and the date a death is reported does not necessarily reflect the date on which the individual died. At least 23 of those deaths occurred in November, and 30 occurred in other months. Seven were undated. Data for the last two to three weeks are incomplete.
As of Wednesday, at least 3,532 Alabamians have died of COVID-19, according to the Department of Public Health. During November, at least 195 people have died in Alabama from COVID-19. But ADPH is sure to add more to the month’s tally in the weeks to come as data becomes more complete.
ADPH on Wednesday announced a change that nearly doubled the department’s estimate of people who have recovered from COVID-19, bringing that figure up to 161,946. That change also alters APR’s estimates of how many cases are considered active.
ADPH’s Infectious Disease and Outbreak team “updated some parameters” in the department’s Alabama NEDSS Base Surveillance System, which resulted in the increase, the department said.
Judge reduces former Alabama Speaker Mike Hubbard’s prison sentence
The trial court judge ordered his 48-month sentence reduced to 28 months.
Lee County Circuit Court Judge Jacob Walker on Wednesday reduced former Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s prison sentence from four years to just more than two.
Walker in his order filed Wednesday noted that Hubbard was sentenced to fours years on Aug. 9, 2016, after being convicted of 12 felony ethics charges for misusing his office for personal gain, but that on Aug. 27, 2018, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed convictions on five of those counts. The Alabama Supreme Court later struck down another count.
Hubbard’s attorneys on Sept. 18 filed a motion to revise his sentence, to which the state objected, according to court records, arguing that “Hubbard’s refusal to admit any guilt or express any remorse makes him wholly unfit to receive any leniency.”
Walker in his order cited state code and wrote that the power of the courts to grant probation “is a matter of grace and lies entirely within the sound discretion of the trial court.”
“Furthermore, the Court must consider the nature of the Defendant’s crimes. Acts of public corruption harm not just those directly involved, but harm society as a whole,” Walker wrote.
Walker ruled that because six of Hubbard’s original felony counts were later reversed, his entrance should be changed to reflect that, and ordered his 48-month sentence reduced to 28 months.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall on Wednesday said Walker’s decision to reduce Hubbard’s sentence was the wrong message to send.
“Mr. Hubbard was convicted of the intentional violation of Alabama’s ethics laws, the same laws he championed in the legislature only later to brazenly disregard for his personal enrichment,” Marshall said in a statement. “Even as he sits in state prison as a six-time felon, Mike Hubbard continues to deny any guilt or offer any remorse for his actions in violation of the law. Reducing his original four-year sentence sends precisely the wrong message to would-be violators of Alabama’s ethics laws.”
Nick Saban tests positive for COVID-19, has “mild symptoms”
It’s unlikely Saban will be able to coach in person during Saturday’s Iron Bowl against Auburn.
University of Alabama head football coach Nick Saban has tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the Iron Bowl and has mild symptoms, according to a statement from the university on Wednesday.
“This morning we received notification that Coach Saban tested positive for COVID-19,” said Dr. Jimmy Robinson and Jeff Allan, associate athletic director, in the statement. “He has very mild symptoms, so this test will not be categorized as a false positive. He will follow all appropriate guidelines and isolate at home.”
Saban had previously tested positive before Alabama’s game against Georgia but was asymptomatic and subsequently tested negative three times, a sign that the positive test could have been a false positive. He returned to coach that game.
It’s unlikely Saban will be able to coach in person during Saturday’s Iron Bowl against Auburn, given the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines for quarantining after testing positive and with symptoms. Neither Saban nor the university had spoken about that possibility as of Wednesday morning.
Civil rights leader Bruce Boynton dies at 83
The Dallas County Courthouse Annex will be renamed in honor of Boynton and fellow Civil Rights Movement leader J.L. Chestnut.
Selma attorney and Civil Rights Movement leader Bruce Carver Boynton died from cancer in a Montgomery hospital on Monday. He was 83. The Dallas County Courthouse Annex will be renamed in honor of Boynton and fellow Civil Rights Movement leader J.L. Chestnut.
“We’ve lost a giant of the Civil Rights Movement,” said Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Alabama. “Son of Amelia Boynton Robinson, Bruce Boynton was a Selma native whose refusal to leave a “whites-only” section of a bus station restaurant led to the landmark SCOTUS decision in Boynton v. Virginia overturning racial segregation in public transportation, sparking the Freedom Rides and end of Jim Crow. Let us be inspired by his commitment to keep striving and working toward a more perfect union.”
Boynton attended Howard University Law School in Washington D.C. He was arrested in Richmond, Virginia, in his senior year of law school for refusing to leave a “whites-only” section of a bus station restaurant. That arrest and conviction would be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where Boynton and civil rights advocates prevailed in the landmark case 1060 Boynton vs. Virginia.
Boynton’s case was handled by famed civil rights era attorney Thurgood Marshal, who would go on to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. The 1960 7-to-2 decision ruled that federal prohibitions barring segregation on interstate buses also applied to bus stations and other interstate travel facilities.
The decision inspired the “Freedom Rides” movement. Some Freedom Riders were attacked when they came to Alabama.
While Boynton received a high score on the Alabama Bar exam, the Alabama Bar prevented him from working in the state for years due to that 1958 trespassing conviction. Undeterred, Boynton worked in Tennessee during the years, bringing school desegregation lawsuits.
Sherrilyn Ifill with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund said on social media: “NAACP LDF represented Bruce Boynton, who was an unplanned Freedom Rider (he simply wanted to buy a sandwich in a Va bus station stop & when denied was willing to sue & his case went to the SCOTUS) and later Bruce’s mother Amelia Boynton (in Selma after Bloody Sunday).”
His mother, Amelia Boynton, was an early organizer of the voting rights movement. During the Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March in 1965, she was beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge. She later co-founded the National Voting Rights Museum and annual Bridge Crossing Jubilee in Selma. His father S.W. Boynton was also active in the Civil Rights Movement.
Bruce Boynton worked for several years at a Washington D.C. law firm but spent most of his long, illustrious legal career in Selma, Alabama, with a focus on civil rights cases. He was the first Black special prosecutor in Alabama history and at one point he represented Stokely Carmichael.
This year has seen the passing of a number of prominent Civil Rights Movement leaders, including Troy native Georgia Congressman John Lewis.