Alabama is so often on the wrong side of history that one has to wonder if that’s intentional. Are we doing it on purpose, like a bratty child who is bad just to get attention?
The federal courts had to make Alabama do the right thing during the Jim Crow years and civil rights movement. The federal courts had to make Alabama do the right thing on mental health in Wyatt vs. Stickney. The late and legendary federal Judge Frank Johnson had giant roles in overturning segregation laws in Alabama and ruling that Alabama was wrong to commit thousands of people to the state’s mental hospitals even though they’d never been diagnosed as mentally ill nor were they given treatment in those state hospitals.
Then there was the fatally flawed anti-immigration bill HB56, passed by the Legislature in 2011. A sure loser in the courts, the law targeted immigrants, both undocumented and legal, scaring many of them out of the state. The federal courts tossed out most of the wrong-headed law, as experts predicted they would do.That didn’t stop Alabama from spending state dollars to defend the indefensible.
Shelby County sued to emasculate the Voting Rights Act, and a conservative U.S. Supreme Court barely agreed. Samuel Issacharoff, in the Alabama Law Review, writes the Shelby County decision “dismantled the core preclearance provisions of what had been the most successful civil rights law in American history.” If you believe that was a good decision, you are wrong. That ruling is one reason Republicans are so successful at voter suppression these days. Terrible laws that violate civil rights, like voting, don’t have to be reviewed by the Justice Department anymore.
Last October, a federal judge struck down Alabama’s draconian anti-abortion law. Alabama’s law was the toughest in the nation, basically sentencing any doctor who performed an abortion to life in prison. There were no exceptions for incest or rape. The law is so flawed, it never stood a chance, and lawmakers knew that when they passed it. Still, Alabama taxpayers will be paying thousands of dollars to defend it as it limps along through the courts. Dead law walking.
There are many other cases, involving the state’s prison system, child welfare, and other topics, that we’re on the wrong side of. We know we should do better. We just don’t. Or won’t. Because:
We Dare Defend Our Wrongs.
Now there’s another case that we’re charging into that’ll cost taxpayers at up to $30,000 to pursue. As reported by Alabama Political Reporter’s Eddie Burkhalter, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall is leading a coalition of 13 states in a California district court in defense of the Trump Administration’s changes to protections for endangered species.
There’s likely nothing Trump could do that would stop Alabama politicians and our inept attorney general from bending over backwards to join him. To so-called Evangelical Republicans, Trump is their god and not, well, God.
It’s nothing for Trump to roll back regulations that protect endangered species (after all, his sons love to kill rare big-game animals on safaris) or check coal mines on environmental destruction or allow our skies to be over-polluted or let oil drillers take over Alaska. But forget windmill farms; windmills cause cancer, Trump has claimed.
Climate change is a hoax, even as Australia and California and other Western states burn. But climate change isn’t causing the world’s poles to melt, raising sea levels. That’s rocks falling off seaside cliffs, claims Alabama U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Crazytown.
Progressive states, usually the most expensive states in which to live because their quality-of-life is so high, support regulations to combat climate change and save endangered species.
The poor, Red states are the ones who join in these sure-loser lawsuits, spending their scarce tax dollars tilting at cancer-causing windmills.
Joey Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize winner, writes a column every week for Alabama Political Reporter. Email: [email protected].