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Opinion | Amendment Two: Choice vs. Life

John W. Giles

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November 6, 2018 is the mid-term election, and in addition to a slate of candidates, Alabamians will be voting on four amendments to the Alabama Constitution. In this article, we will be talking about Amendment Two. If passed, the Alabama Constitution will recognize and support the sanctity of unborn life. Generally, there are three visible sides to this debate: those who want unlimited abortion, those who want to protect the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death (except for the life of the mother), and those who are opposed to abortion (except in the case of rape, incest and life of the mother). In full disclosure, it is no surprise that I will be voting YES without blinking. Please don’t hang up the phone on me just yet; let’s get into the facts on this, so you can make a sound, rational decision.

Planned Parenthood (PP) is leading the effort to vote NO on this amendment. Why are they so adamant about keeping abortion legal in America; could it be large sums of money and their core philosophy? Even in the disturbing wake of mounting video recorded evidence of PP selling baby body parts, they are still receiving in excess of $500 million annually of federal tax dollars. In addition to the federal funding, PP charges anywhere from $350 – $950 for first trimester abortions and much more for second trimester abortions. PP is federally recognized as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which excludes them from income tax. I am not sure how they do this, but even though non-profits are precluded by the IRS from engaging in elections, PP is publicly reported to be spending $20 – $30 million supporting Democrats for Congress in this general election cycle. I ran a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, and while we could participate in voter education and lobbying, we could not engage in “express advocacy” or endorsing any candidate. Amazingly, the IRS attacked conservative Tea Party members, but they look the other way on PP, which is pouring huge sums of money into Alabama to defeat this amendment.

PP was founded by Margaret Sanger (1883 -1996), who was a turn of the century birth control activist, sex educator, writer, and nurse. I challenge you to look her up yourself, because she had some very radical, liberal ideas. Most of her philosophical quotes are morally repugnant, even by the norms of her era, but they are imbedded into the molecular makeup of PP. Sanger formed PP to exterminate blacks. In 1939, she started: “The Negro Project” for the purpose of radically curbing the birth of black children. If this offends you, like it bristles me, check out this Sanger quote: “The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.” Sanger had an abhorrent, horrific, belief system and appalling tone; but at least she was honest in the goals of PP, which are prevalent today.

Three high profile Republican women, along with the Alabama Exchange (ad hoc group consisting of several pro-life organizations) are leading the Vote YES effort in the state. Terry Lathan (Chair of the Alabama Republican Party), Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh (President of the Alabama Public Service Commission) and Mary Sue McClurkin (Shelby County Republican Representative) are leading the GOP get out the vote effort. Thank you ladies, for your leadership. This will be primarily a grassroots and social media driven outreach, and it will not match the well-funded PP opposition to Amendment Two.

PP will showcase in their ads that voting YES to the amendment will eliminate access to women, who are pregnant due to rape or incest. One of the three categories mentioned at the beginning of this article are those opposed to abortion except in the case of rape, incest and life of the mother. Pay close attention to this statistic: The Guttmacher Institute, which is a research division founded by PP, by its own data, states that rape, incest and the life of the mother represents less than 1 percent of all abortions. So another perspective is the reciprocal, which means that over 99 percent of all abortions are emergency measures for birth control, and they are not cases of rape, incest or the health of the mother as marketed by PP. Liberal Democrats, PP, and the media will focus their entire attention on less than 1 percent of all abortions. The life of the mother discussion is a non-issue. When the life of the expecting mother is at stake, like a tubal pregnancy and the like, the tending physician will always put the life of the mother over her unborn child. Their argument is distorted at best, but now we take a close look at the deception around Roe v Wade.

If you follow my writings, there is no misunderstanding about my feelings of judicial activism and making law from the bench. Roe v. Wade was a classic model case as the pinnacle of judicial activism. Norma McCorvey (9/22/1947 – 2/18/2017), whom Deborah (my wife) and I knew, was the legal pseudo “Jane Roe” in Roe v. Wade. Before becoming a Christian, McCorvey became a lesbian and ran an abortion clinic; her life was a wreck. McCorvey later in life repented, became an active pro-life Christian and our friend Reverend Flip Benham baptized her. Self-proclaimed feminist liberal lawyers, Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee were seeking out the perfect case to make abortion legal in America. McCorvey, a single, divorced, alcoholic woman became pregnant with her third child in 1969, wanted to abort her child, but in Texas abortion was illegal, except for the life of the mother. Imagine that; except for California and New York, prior to 1973, abortion was illegal in America, except in the case of the life of the mother (like a tubal pregnancy). It was handled as a Tenth Amendment, states rights issue. McCorvey was not a pretty, eye-candy kind of girl, but rather a downtrodden alcoholic, so the lawyers kept her hidden; she never appeared in press conferences or court and learned later that her case had won before the U.S. Supreme Court. These lawyers used McCorvey. In the media the lawyers said she was raped, which was completely false, but the most outrageous twist of the story is that McCorvey did not abort her third child.

In a 7-2 vote, this activist majority of the U.S. Supreme Court stretched the Fourth Amendment beyond recognition. You almost need to be on a hallucinating drug to understand their logic, because the Fourth Amendment is very narrow in scope and specific to criminal due process, as it relates to unwarranted searches and seizers. While most Americans believe they have a constitutional right to privacy; that notion is completely incorrect. The Fourth Amendment gives “people a right to secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” In this case, the court looked from afar at the Fourth Amendment and saw an aura or a penumbra (implied rights) formed by emanations (a flowing) from those guarantees of their radical judicial interpretation of privacy applies to the expecting mother and her unborn child. The vague perceptions of privacy superseded human life. The court also craftily exchanges “life of the mother” with “health of the mother.” In this context, if an expecting mother had mental anguish or regrets of the pregnancy, this met the new definition of “health of the mother.” The 1973 Roe v. Wade case was not only based on fraudulent facts and completely outside the purview of the Fourth Amendment criminal proceeding protections, but it was also a predatory exploitation of a distraught alcoholic woman, who did not have an abortion. However, it became a landmark legal precedent, thus binding the hands of the lower courts. One can now see why there is such an elevated debate over who sits on the high court.

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Science has proven many times over that life begins at conception; the moment the egg is fertilized, a blood cell and new life is formed. It is not just mere tissue; it is a baby and a fellow American. Many have attempted to redefine the argument to be a matter of choice, reproductive freedom, or a matter of imposing our religious views or morality on others. This is not a pro-choice position, but pro-abortion. The liberal media calls us anti-abortion, but I submit we are prolife. Please remember that abortion was illegal in this country prior to 1973, so for 197 years abortion was illegal in this country, and the last 45 years are based on a fraudulent case and a grave abuse of the constitution by the activist courts. Let’s keep in mind that the first choice was yielding to engage in sex. There is not even the slightest comparison between human life and abortion or as the spin doctors call it: choice.

In closing, there is a long standing notion that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are rights given to us by God, not the state, but Governments were formed to protect and preserve those rights. It may be time for the court to review the definition of human life, with science and facts as the basis.

Please Vote YES on Amendment Two and let’s restore the right to life for all, from conception to natural death.

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John W. Giles is former President of the Christian Coalition of Alabama. He served as Small Business Advocate for the State of Alabama during Governor Guy Hunt's Administration. He was also a member of Governor Fob James Cabinet.

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Opinion | On the Nov. 3 ballot, vote “no” on proposed Amendment 1

Chris Christie

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(STOCK PHOTO)

On Nov. 3, 2020, all Alabama voters should vote “no” on proposed Amendment 1. Vote no on Amendment 1 because it could allow state law changes to disenfranchise citizens whom the Legislature does not want to vote. Because Amendment 1 has no practical purpose and because it opens the door to mischief, all voters are urged to vote no.

Currently, the Alabama Constitution provides that “Every citizen of the United States…” has the right to vote in the county where the voter resides. Amendment 1 would delete the word “every” before citizen and replace it with “only a” citizen.

In Alabama, the only United States citizens who cannot vote today are most citizens who have been convicted of a felony of moral turpitude. These felonies are specifically identified in Ala. Code 17-3-30.1.

Without Amendment 1, the Alabama Constitution now says who can vote: every citizen. If voters approve Amendment 1, the Alabama Constitution would only identify a group who cannot vote. With Amendment 1, we, the citizens of the United States in Alabama, thus would lose the state constitutional protection of our voting rights.

In Alabama, no individual who is not a United States citizens can vote in a governmental election. So, Amendment 1 has no impact on non-citizens in Alabama.

Perhaps the purpose of Amendment 1 could be to drive voter turnout of those who mistakenly fear non-citizens can vote. The only other purpose for Amendment 1 would be allowing future Alabama state legislation to disenfranchise groups of Alabama citizens whom a majority of the legislature does not want to vote.

In 2020, the ballots in Florida and Colorado have similar amendments on the ballots. As in Alabama, Citizens Voters, Inc., claims it is responsible for putting these amendments on the ballots in those states. While Citizens Voters’ name sounds like it is a good nonprofit, as a 501(c)(4), it has secret political donors. One cannot know who funds Citizen Voters and thus who is behind pushing these amendments with more than $8 million in dark money.

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According to Citizen Voter’s website, the stated reason for Amendment 1 is that some cities in several other states allow non-citizens to vote. My understanding is that such measures are rare and only apply to voting for local school boards.

And why would a local government’s deciding that non-citizens can vote for local school boards be a state constitutional problem? Isn’t the good government practice to allow local control of local issues? And again, this issue does not even exist in Alabama.

The bigger question, which makes Amendment 1’s danger plain to see, is why eliminate the language protectingevery citizen’s right to vote? For example, Amendment 1 could have proposed “Every citizen and only a citizen” instead of deleting “every” when adding “only a” citizen. Why not leave the every citizen language in the Alabama Constitution?

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Amendment 1 could allow Alabama new state legislation to disenfranchise some Alabama citizens. Such a change would probably violate federal law. But Alabama has often had voting laws that violated federal law until a lawsuit forced the state of Alabama not to enforce the illegal state voting law.  

The most recent similar law in Alabama might be 2011’s HB56, the anti-immigrant law. Both HB56 and Amendment 1 are Alabama state laws that out-of-state interests pushed on us. And HB56 has been largely blocked by federal courts after expensive lawsuits.

Alabama’s Nov. 3, 2020, ballot will have six constitutional amendments. On almost all ballots, Amendment 1 will be at the bottom right on the first page (front) of the ballot or will be at the top left on the second page (back) of the ballot.

Let’s keep in our state constitution our protection of every voters’ right to vote.

Based on Amendment 1’s having no practical benefit and its opening many opportunities for mischief, all Alabama voters are strongly urged to vote “no” on Amendment 1.

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Opinion | Amendment 4 is an opportunity to clean up the Alabama Constitution

Gerald Johnson and John Cochran

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The 1901 but current Alabama Constitution has been amended about 950 times, making it by far the world’s longest constitution. The amendments have riddled the Constitution with redundancies while maintaining language and provisions — for example, poll taxes — that reflect the racist intent of those who originally wrote it.

A recompilation will bring order to the amendments and remove obsolete language. While much of this language is no longer valid, the language is still in the document and has been noted and used by other states when competing with Alabama for economic growth opportunities.

The need for recompilation and cleaning of Alabama’s Constitution has been long recognized.

In 2019, the Legislature unanimously adopted legislation, Amendment 4, to provide for its recompilation. Amendment 4 on the Nov. 3 general election ballot will allow the non-partisan Legislative Reference Service to draft a recompiled and cleaned version of the Constitution for submission to the Legislature.

While Amendment 4 prohibits any substantive changes in the Constitution, the LRS will remove duplication, delete no longer legal provisions and racist language, thereby making our Constitution far more easily understood by all Alabama citizens.

Upon approval by the Legislature, the recompiled Constitution will be presented to Alabama voters in November 2022 for ratification.

Amendment 4 authorizes a non-partisan, broadly supported, non-controversial recompilation and much-needed, overdue cleaning up of our Constitution.

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On Nov. 3, 2020, vote “Yes” on Amendment 4 so the work can begin.

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Opinion | Auburn Student Center named for Harold Melton, first Auburn SGA president of color

Elizabeth Huntley and James Pratt

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Auburn University's Student Center (VIA AUBURN UNIVERSITY)

The year 1987 was a quiet one for elections across America but not at Auburn. That was the year Harold Melton, a student in international studies and Spanish, launched and won a campaign to become the first African American president of the Auburn Student Government Association, winning with more than 65 percent of the vote.

This was just the first of many important roles Harold Melton would play at Auburn and in an extraordinarily successful legal career in his home state of Georgia, where his colleagues on the Georgia Supreme Court elected him as chief justice.

Last week, the Auburn Board of Trustees unanimously named the Auburn student center for Justice Melton, the first building on campus that honors a person of color. The decision was reached as part of a larger effort to demonstrate Auburn’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.

In June, Auburn named two task forces to study diversity and inclusion issues. We co-chair the task force for the Auburn Board with our work taking place concurrently with that of a campus-based task force organized by President Jay Gogue. Other members of the Board task force are retired Army general Lloyd Austin, bank president Bob Dumas, former principal and educator Sarah B. Newton and Alabama Power executive Quentin P. Riggins.

These groups are embarking on a process that offers all Auburn stakeholders a voice, seeking input from students, faculty, staff, alumni, elected officials and more. It will include a fact-based review of Auburn’s past and present, and we will provide specific recommendations for the future.

We are committed to making real progress based on solid facts. Unlike other universities in the state, Auburn has a presence in all 67 counties through the Alabama Cooperative Extension System. Our review has included not only our campuses in Auburn and Montgomery but all properties across our state. To date, we have found no monuments or statues recognizing the history that has divided our country. We will continue our fact-finding mission with input from the academic and research community.

Our university and leadership are committed to doing the right thing, for the right reasons, at the right time. We believe now is the right time, and we are already seeing results.

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In addition to naming the student center for the Honorable Harold Melton, we have taken steps to highlight the significant role played by Harold Franklin, the student who integrated Auburn. We are working to enhance the historical marker that pays tribute to Mr. Franklin, and we are raising its visibility in campus tours as we pay homage to his contributions as our first African American student. Last month, we awarded Mr. Franklin, now 86 and with a Ph.D., a long-overdue master’s degree for the studies he completed at Auburn so many years ago.

We likewise endorsed a student-led initiative creating the National Pan-Hellenic Council Legacy Plaza, which will recognize the contributions of Black Greek organizations and African American culture on our campus.

In the coming months, Auburn men and women will work together to promote inclusion to further enhance our student experience and build on our strength through diversity. The results of this work will be seen and felt throughout the institution in how we recruit our students, provide scholarships and other financial support and ensure a culture of inclusion in all walks of university life.

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Our goal is to identify and implement substantive steps that will make a real difference at Auburn, impact our communities and stand the test of time.

Naming the student center for Justice Melton is but one example. In response to this decision, he said, “Auburn University has already given me everything I ever could have hoped for in a university and more. This honor is beyond my furthest imagination.”

Our job as leaders at Auburn is more than honoring the Harold Meltons and Harold Franklins who played a significant role in the history of our university. It is also to create an inclusive environment that serves our student body and to establish a lasting legacy where all members of the Auburn Family reach their fullest potential in their careers and in life.

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Opinion | Alabama lags behind the nation in Census participation with deadline nearing

Paul DeMarco

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The United States Census is starting to wind down around the country with a Sept. 30 deadline for the national population to be completed. However, a United States District Court has recently ruled that the date may be extended another 30 days to allow more time for the census to take place.

Regardless of the deadline, Alabama has work to do when it comes to the census.

To date, the national average for participation around the country has been almost 65 percent for the census.

Unfortunately, Alabama residents are providing data to the census at a lower percentage, around some 61 percent of the state population.

There is already concern among state leaders that if that number does not reach above 70 percent, then the state will lose a seat in Congress, a vote in the electoral college and millions of federal dollars that come to the state every year.

The percentage of participation has varied widely around the state, from a high of 76 percent in Shelby County to a low of 36 percent in neighboring Coosa County.

State leaders are making a final push to request Alabama residents fill out the census in the last month before it is closed.

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We will find out later this fall if Alabama passes the national average of participation in the census compared to other states to retain both its future representation and share of federal dollars.

In the meantime, Alabamians need to fill out their census forms.

The state is depending on it.

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