By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—Backed by a group representing every facet of the Unified Judicial System, Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy S. Moore made a case for fairness and shared sacrifice within all branches of State government.
Justice Moore is calling on the legislature to release $12 million in conditional funding to keep the Judicial system operating properly. “We don’t mind that the Judicial branch suffers, if every branch of government suffers. We are finding that is not the case,” said Moore as he addressed the gathered press.
Justice Moore then pointed out that the Legislative Branch and the Executive Branch have been awarding pay raises and promotions, while the Judicial Branch has been denied money to do the same. Justice Moore said he didn’t want to sound as if were complaining, but that it was time for a fair and equitable funding system that treats every branch of government equally. “We know what is happening, and we will not remain quiet,” said the Chief Justice.
Since 2008, only once has the Judicial Branch had the funding to offer promotions and raises. Moore said, it was morally wrong to punish one group while the Governor and the Legislature are not sharing the burden. Moore said this unfairness breaks the esprit de corps that should exist in State government.
Those representing judges, clerks, district attorneys, probations officers, and employees that make-up the Unified Judicial System, echoed the same theme: Morale is low; departments are understaffed; the public is not being served; and there is a fairness issue that is being ignored.
Joseph L. Boohaker, presiding circuit judge for the Tenth Judicial Circuit said, that the Justice system is a soft target in funding. Prisons, and Medicaid are hard targets in funding, because if prisons are underfunded, the Federal government will take them over an ensure funding. Likewise, Medicaid, with its matching funds, will always receive its budget, because of the funds that flow into the State as a result of the Federal match. Judge Boohaker said, this is why the courts are treated differently.
With a theme of overall fairness, Justice Moore, and the representatives of the various positions in justice, repeatedly hit on the fact that the Governor and the legislators had money for merit raises and promotion, while the courts did not.
Justice Moore is not a man to be trifled with, especially by any engaged politico. On Tuesday, he made it clear that he was on a mission to see the courts receive proper funding.