There was much celebrating among most Alabama Democrats on Saturday, following the election of a new party chairman and the seating of dozens of new minority State Democratic Executive Committee members.
There also was quite of bit of anger and angst among other Alabama Democrats, as they saw their chairwoman, Nancy Worley, pushed aside and a new ADP take shape.
But amidst all of the change, and the glee and anger, there was one thing that went largely forgotten by most in the state: The actions on Friday of Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Greg Griffin.
And Griffin’s actions should never be forgotten.
Because those actions represent the worst of the Alabama judicial system.
Now, I know what you’re thinking — that it’s impossible for a decision on a temporary restraining order in a political fight to qualify as “the worst” of this state’s judicial system when we’re locking up innocent people and holding poor people in prison because they can’t pay their fines.
Fair points. But those sorts of injustices don’t occur without a court system, and without judges, who are willing to overlook the rules and precedent, to shirk responsibility and reason, and to allow politics and friendships to override the law.
That seems to be what happened in Griffin’s courtroom on Thursday and Friday of last week.
And I’m not even talking about the decision he made — to grant a temporary restraining order that prevented a group of law abiding citizens from taking an action that hadn’t been determined to be illegal. That’s called “prior restraint,” and it is almost never OK.
But that’s beside the point.
Here’s what you should care about: On Thursday, as the two warring factions of Alabama Democrats argued in front of Griffin about a scheduled meeting called by the reform caucus to elect new party leadership, Griffin made a promise to both sides.
“I’ll try to work fairly quickly to get to you a resolution keeping in mind that the meeting is supposed to take place on Saturday,” Griffin told the attorneys on Thursday. “Whichever way I rule, I would love for the other side to have a chance to take it up (to the Alabama Supreme Court on appeal).”
Griffin made that promise after an attorney in the case told the judge that if he were to rule against the reform caucus, who had the meeting scheduled for Saturday at 8 a.m., the timeframe for an appeal to the ALSC would be tiny.
To speed along the process, Griffin asked each side to present him with proposed orders, which would allow him to simply sign his name and file them.
Both sides left the courtroom in Montgomery early on Thursday afternoon.
And they waited.
And waited more.
Finally, at 4:59 p.m. on Friday — one minute before the close of business — Griffin filed his decision, granting the TRO and halting the meeting on Saturday.
Two sources at the Montgomery courthouse told me that Griffin never set foot in the building on Friday. Griffin disputed this in a phone call early Tuesday, saying he was briefly in the courthouse on Friday.
The order he filed that granted the TRO was the pre-written order supplied to him by attorneys for Nancy Worley. Only the heading at the top of the page had been changed.
So, what was he doing all day?
It sure seems as if he was playing politics instead of simply applying the law.
And it didn’t take long for the Democrats angered by his decision to come up with theories on why. Within minutes, an old YouTube video of Griffin talking about his 2016 election to the bench surfaced and started to spread among Democrats.
In that video, Griffin speaks of his family forming a new church with Joe Reed, the vice-chairman of minority affairs for the ADP and Worley’s closest ally. That lawsuit, for all intents and purposes, was filed by Reed and argued by attorneys working for Reed.
That previous friendship combined with Reed’s interest in the case probably should have prompted Griffin to recuse from the case.
But Griffin didn’t recuse.
And so, in the end, here’s what we’re left with: A judge who got a case that was originally assigned to a different judge; a ruling that doesn’t quite square with past precedent and the law; a decision that was held until the absolute last minute in an apparent attempt to prevent a speedy appeal.
It stinks. Like week-old fish.
Luckily, attorneys for the reform caucus were able to push through an emergency appeal and the ALSC was able to issue a speedy ruling overturning Griffin’s order. And just as luckily, Griffin’s late-in-the-day ruling didn’t create so much chaos that Democrats were left without a quorum at their meeting.
It all worked out fine in the end.
But what Greg Griffin did shouldn’t be forgotten anytime soon.
Jones to attend Auburn student forum, Tuberville hasn’t yet responded to invitation
Jones has agreed to attend the forum, but it was unclear whether Tuberville planned to attend.
The College Democrats at Auburn University and the College Republicans at Auburn University have asked U.S. Senator Doug Jones, D-Alabama, and his Republican opponent, Tommy Tuberville, to attend a student forum on Wednesday.
“We are excited to invite the candidates running for our U.S. Senate seat and provide this opportunity for any Auburn student to hear directly from them, and we hope it will inform our student bodies’ decisions with the November 3rd election only days away,” said Carsten Grove, president of the College Democrats at Auburn University, in a statement.
Jones has agreed to attend the forum, Auburn University College Democrats confirmed for APR on Sunday, but it was unclear whether Tuberville planned to attend. The student organization was still awaiting a response from Tuberville’s campaign.
Jones has for months requested Tuberville join him in a debate, but Tuberville has declined.
“AUCR takes great pleasure in coming together with AUCD to co-host the Alabama Senate candidates in this forum. We are looking forward to a very informative and constructive event,” said Lydia Maxwell, president of the College Republicans at Auburn University.
Dr. Ryan Williamson, assistant professor of political science, is to emcee the forum, which will be open to all Auburn University students in the Mell Classroom Building at 6 p.m., according to a press release from the College Democrats at Auburn University.
Students will be permitted 30 seconds to ask a question of either candidate, and each candidate will have two minutes to answer, according to the release.
Capacity at the forum will be limited and precautions taken due to COVID-19. Any student with an Auburn ID is welcome and attendance will be first come, first served.
Trump Truck and boat parades this weekend
As Election Day draws near, Alabama Republicans are excited about promoting the re-election of Donald J. Trump as President and the election of Tommy Tuberville for U.S. Senate. This weekend two pro-President Trump events are happening in the state. There will be a truck parade from Ashland to Phenix City on Saturday sponsored by the Clay County Republican Party, while there will also be a boat parade on Wilson Lake in the Shoals sponsored by the Colbert County Republican Party on Sunday.
The pickup trucks will assemble at the Ashland Industrial Park in Clay County, 8240 Hwy 9, Ashland. There is a pre-departure rally at 10:00 a.m. central standard time. The trucks will depart at 11:00 a.m. and then proceed on a parade route that will take them into the bitterly contested swing state of Georgia. The Trump Pickup Parade will wind through east Alabama and West Georgia traveling through LaGrange and Columbus before concluding near the Alabama/Georgia line in Phenix City, 332 Woodland Drive, Phenix City at approximately 2:00 p.m. central time. Speakers will begin at 3:00. Trump flags will be on sale at the event.
The Phenix Motorsports Park will be hosting what sponsor hope could possibly the world’s largest Pickup Tuck parade in U.S. history that is routing over 50 mile through Georgia in effort to “pickup” President Trump’s numbers in GA.
A number dignitaries have been invited to address the Phenix City rally, including Coach Tuberville. Former State Sen. Shadrack McGill, Trump Victory Finance Committee member former State Rep. Perry O. Hooper Jr., and Paul Wellborn, the President and CEO of the largest Family owned Kitchen Cabinet manufacture in the USA are among the featured speakers who have committed to speak at the event.
Entertainment will be provided by: Charity Bowden, an up and coming country music singer who was the runner up on “The Voice”. Charity will sing ‘I am Proud to be an American’ as well as songs from her Voice performances. The McGill Girls will also perform. The three beautiful and talented sisters will be singing patriotic songs in three part harmony. Geoff Carlisle, a professional DJ will be keeping the crowd pumped with music and entertainment.
Following the speakers and the entertainment there will Trump truck-vs- Joe Bidden truck races down the drag strip for the finale.
The Northwest Alabama boat parade will be on Sunday. The boats will gather at 2:00 p.m. near Turtle Point and then the flotilla will parade around the open waters of Wilson Lake til 3_00 p.m.. There will be a contest for best decorated Trump boats.
Trump supporters have held a number of large boat parades across the state to show their support for the re-election of Pres. Trump.
Boat parade sponsors say that this parade will be: pro-American, pro-law enforcement, pro-military.
Opinion | Doug Jones’s pathway to victory: Substance over lies
Jones said his work in the Senate should prove to the people of the state that party matters less than productivity.
Alabama Sen. Doug Jones believes voters will ultimately see through Tommy Tuberville’s lazy campaign and lies, and that enough of them will be moved by his work over the last two years to send him back to D.C.
Jones’ comments came during a lengthy interview on the Alabama Politics This Week podcast. He also discussed his plans to address some of Alabama’s most pressing issues and also praised Sen. Richard Shelby, an Alabama Republican.
But it was Jones’ comments about Alabama voters — and whether too many of them are incapable of moving away from the Republican Party — that were most interesting. Jones still believes there are open-minded voters in the state, and that there isn’t enough attention being paid to polls showing a growing dissatisfaction in Alabama with President Donald Trump.
“There are a number of things that Donald Trump has done that people (in Alabama) don’t agree with,” Jones said. “There are a number of things that he’s done that’s hurt Alabama and that they’re not OK with. That’s where I come in.”
Jones said his work in the Senate, where he’s sponsored the most bipartisan legislation over the last two years, should prove to the people of the state that party matters less than productivity.
“I tell everyone, you owe it to yourself to look at every candidate and every issue,” Jones said. “I do that. I’ve been a Democrat all my life but I don’t think that I have ever pulled a straight lever. Because I look at every issue. I will tell you that there have been times that I didn’t vote for people who are Democrats for whatever reason — I just couldn’t do it. I think we owe it to ourselves to do that.”
Jones had the perfect example to drive the point home.
“Y’all all know our state auditor, Jim Zeigler? Jim wasn’t always a Republican. Jim’s first runs for office were as a Democrat.
“I rest my case.”
You can listen to the full interview at the Alabama Politics This Week website, or you can subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts.
Trump to visit Pensacola tonight
Trump is making a push in Florida in the final weeks of the election, and Northwest Florida is part of his strategy.
Neither presidential candidate is likely to visit Alabama before the general election, as both campaigns accept that Alabama will be certainly in President Donald Trump’s camp on election day no matter what else happens. While Alabama is not a swing state, Georgia and Florida are both in play, and both campaigns are devoting enormous resources there.
Trump is making a push in Florida in the final weeks of the election, and Northwest Florida is part of his strategy. Trump will be just across the Florida-Alabama state line visiting Pensacola and is scheduled to address supporters at the ST Engineering hangar beginning at 7 p.m. CT.
The doors open at 4 p.m. and the event begins at 7:00 p.m.
The president’s rally tonight comes right after a visit to Pensacola last week by Second Lady Karen Pence and is one of many Florida campaign events planned for Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
Trump arrived in Florida after Thursday’s final presidential debate with Joe Biden. He is scheduled to hold a campaign event in The Villages before traveling to Pensacola. The president will spend the night at his Palm Beach resort Mar-a-Lago and will vote early Saturday.
The vice president will hold rallies in Lakeland and Tallahassee on Saturday. Florida has 27 electoral college votes. It would be very difficult for Trump to get the 270 electoral college votes necessary to win without winning Florida.
Democrats warn that attending a Trump rally could be dangerous due to the coronavirus threat.
“The last thing Floridians need is for Donald Trump to host more potential superspreader rallies across our state,” Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Terrie Rizzo said in a statement on the rally in Pensacola. “What we do need, however, is a president capable of putting Floridians ahead of his own self-interest and get this pandemic under control.”
Most recent polls have Trump trailing Biden in Florida. Tickets are required to attend the rally.