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Constitutional Amendment to Strip Power from the Chief Justice Stalls in Committee

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Wednesday, February 22, 2017 the Senate Judiciary Committee failed to give a favorable report to a proposed constitutional amendment that would have taken the power to appoint the Administrative Director of the Courts away from the Chief Justice. Instead the administrator would be appointed by a vote of the majority of the justices on the Supreme Court.

SB 105 was a Alabama Constitutional Amendment sponsored by Senator Greg Albritton (R from Bay Minette). Sen. Albritton told the committee that appointing the Administrative Director of the Courts would give more stability to the court system. The Chief Justices have come and gone in recent years and every time they change they appoint a new Administrative Director. This has created chaos with the courts. Acting Chief Justice Lyn Stuart (R) supports this change.

The Alabama Political Reporter talked about this proposal on the phone with suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore (R). Chief Justice Moore told APR that there currently is an effort by the justices to take powers from the Chief Justice. “The Chief Justice is elected by the people of Alabama to head the court system. He must be able to do his job.”

Chief Justice Moore said, “This is the chief appointment that the Chief Justice makes.” He has to work with the Administrative Director every day. “I strongly object to this bill.”

Roy Moore said that passage of this legislation would be a detriment to the functioning of the court system. It is not just me. All Chief Justices have picked their own Administrator.

After Roy Moore was suspended by the Court of the Judiciary for the remainder of his term, acting Chief Justice Stuart fired his hires and replaced them with people loyal to her.

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The vote to give a favorable report to SB105 was 5 to 5, thus the bill did not get a favorable report.

Interestingly Senate Bill 103 which is the statute which was moving in parallel with the constitutional amendment did receive favorable report on a 10 to 0 vote. The statute would have made the chief administrator a 12 year appointment.

Both Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Cam Ward (R from Alabaster) and Chief Justice Roy Moore told the Alabama Political Reporter that they believed that this change probably can be done legally only through amending the Alabama Constitution.

Moore has appealed his suspension. A special appointed Supreme Court is considering his appeal. Moore is contemplating running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Luther Strange, who was recently appointed to the positon by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R).

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.


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