Wednesday, Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan and over 25 supporters held a news conference at ALGOP Headquarters in Hoover to demand that Senator Doug Jones not ignore the majority of Alabamians and consider Amy Coney Barrett for the Supreme Court.
“Today is the day we are challenging Doug Jones to do something he rarely does — listen to the majority of Alabamians,” Lathan said. “He has ignored the majority over and over on major issues.”
Lathan asserted that Jones ignored the wishes of Alabamians when he voted guilty on articles of impeachment against the president earlier this year, and when he voted against confirmed for then-nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh in 2018.
“He still owes Justice Kavanaugh an apology for going along with the circus the Democrats orchestrated against a nominee that Alabamians supported,” Lathan said. “On voting to withhold funding from the southern border wall being built. On declaring he will vote to take away Alabama tax cuts courtesy of President Trump … in other words take away your money that you work for — he’s telling you, Alabama, it’s his to take and not yours to keep. He wants your family income back.”
Jones has said he will not vote to confirm Barrett — or any nominee — before the results of the Nov. 3 general election have been decided. Democrats oppose Barrett’s nomination because her appointment to the court would solidify a 6-3, highly conservative majority and because Republicans denied President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, hearings and a vote in 2016.
“He said it’s because it’s too close to an election. Well, there was an election held in 2016 and 2018 — Alabama said we highly support President Trump in the White House and America added two more Republican U.S. Senate seats,” Lathan said. “With the Republican Party now the majority in the Senate and in the White House, Senator Jones needs to do his job — meet with her, listen to her and then decide on Judge Barrett’s credentials.”
Republicans appear to have a majority to confirm Barrett to the court, with hearings scheduled for later this month. Jones’s vote is unlikely to make a difference in the confirmation fight.
“It is a poor reflection of the state of our national politics that, just hours after Justice Ginsburg’s passing, we were thrust into a divisive partisan fight over her successor, denying the nation the time to mourn this extraordinary American’s death,” Jones said. “Just weeks from a national election, we are confronting a blatant power grab by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the President that will undermine the court and subvert the will of the American people.”
Lathan said that, “Tone deafness to the seating of Judge Barrett will not stand. There is no reason not to meet with this mother of 7 who drives a minivan, is highly regarded by her students, professors and those who have worked with her in the judicial system. Why is he afraid? He looks weak. Alabama does not like that look at all. Do your job, Senator Jones. Use your own words that you pride yourself on of being fair. Meet with Judge Barrett on behalf of Alabama.”
Jones has pointed to what Democrats call the hypocrisy of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who denied Garland hearings in the spring of 2016, months out from an election. McConnell is now pushing for Barrett to be confirmed less than a month before a general election.
“Just four years ago, Leader McConnell held open a Supreme Court seat for ten months before a presidential election because he said time and again that, in an election year, we must let the American people decide,” Jones said. “If confirming a Supreme Court justice ten months prior to a presidential election would have denied the American people a voice, then isn’t he now denying the American people a voice by rushing to confirm a justice just weeks before a presidential election?”
“Under these circumstances, I will not support the confirmation of any Supreme Court justice nominee before the election,” Jones explained. “We should not force the country into a brutal and divisive partisan confirmation fight while Americans are already voting to choose the next President. If President Trump is re-elected, I will evaluate any pending or future nominee on their merits and vote for or against the nominee based solely on their qualifications.”
Lathan was joined at ALGOP headquarters by State Rep. David Wheeler, R-Vestavia; State Sen. Jabo Wagoner, R-Vestavia; Jefferson County Republican Party Chairman former State Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood; and Republican National Committeewoman Vickie Drummond.
Lathan said Republicans would vote Jones out on Nov. 3.
“OK — go ahead Senator Jones. You do you and we are going to do us,” Lathan said. “On Nov. 3, when Alabamians have all of the power, we will prove that your one hit wonder term was really a one hit blunder term. We will thumb our noses at you with the stroke of our pens. You will have no one to blame but yourself. In 34 days, your millions of dollars and appeasement of the left will not save you. Alabamians don’t take kindly to being ignored and on Nov. 3, they will not be ignored by you any longer.”
“In 34 days, Alabama will again add a new page in our history books when we will show Doug Jones that the voters are the be all to end all,” Lathan said. “We will end his placeholder status and elect Tommy Tuberville to replace Doug Jones. Coach Tuberville will support our president and, as important, not ignore the wishes of the people of sweet home Alabama.”
“The world is watching Alabama. Will we keep the majority in the Senate,” Lathan said.
Lathan challenged Senator Doug jones “to at least meet with her that is the minimum that he can do.”
Lathan warned that “Complacency is the enemy of the Republican Party,” when discussing the GOP’s prospects in the 2020 election.
Aderholt fully supports Barrett’s confirmation process
Confirmation hearings began last week and a vote on her confirmation is expected in the next week just days before the general election.
Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama, updated his constituents on the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Aderholt said, “I do support her fully and I know she will defend life, protect the Constitution, and uphold our freedoms.”
Confirmation hearings began last week and a vote on her confirmation is expected in the next week just days before the general election.
“Senate Democrats are not seriously questioning Judge Barrett on her credentials, instead they have decided to attack her character and her beliefs,” Aderholt said. “I am disappointed to see this unfold on the national stage, but I think Judge Barrett stood strong and did well during this first week of hearings.”
“While I do not have a vote in her confirmation process, I do support her fully and I know she will defend life, protect the Constitution, and uphold our freedoms when she is officially sworn in as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court,” Aderholt said.
Barrett is a Notre Dame graduate, has served on the U.S. Seventh Court of Appeals and is a former clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
“I clerked for Justice Scalia more than 20 years ago, but the lessons I learned still resonate,” Barrett said. “His judicial philosophy is mine, too: A judge must apply the law as written. Judges are not policymakers, and they must be resolute in setting aside any policy views they might hold.”
Barrett vowed to keep an open mind on any matter that comes before the court, though Democrats fear she is prepared to overturn Supreme Court precedent on abortion rights and the Affordable Care Act.
That the Republican controlled committee will recommend that Barrett be confirmed appears certain. A vote to confirm Barrett to the nation’s highest court by the full Senate could occur just days ahead of the Nov. 3 election.
President Donald Trump has been the president of the United States for less than four years but if Barrett is confirmed, then he will have selected one third of the U.S. Supreme Court. Barrett fills a place created by the death of the late Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died in September.
Aderholt is in his 12th term representing Alabama’s 4th Congressional District. He faces Democratic nominee Rick Neighbors in the Nov. 3 general election.
Lawsuit alleges “religious test” on Alabama voter registration form
Plaintiffs say the phrase “so help me God” amounts to a mandatory religious oath.
A lawsuit filed in federal court is challenging language on Alabama’s voter registration form, saying that the phrase “so help me God” amounts to a mandatory religious oath prohibited by the Constitution.
Alabama is the only state that requires voters to swear the truthfulness of their voter registration information by signing a form that includes those words without any option of a secular affirmation.
The lead plaintiff is Randal Cragun, an atheist who has sought to register to vote in Alabama since November 2019. He noticed that on the mail-in form that is downloadable from the secretary of state’s website, a warning states: “Read and sign under penalty of perjury,” and, “If you falsely sign this statement, you can be convicted and imprisoned for up to five years.” The declaration begins “I solemnly swear or affirm” and ends with “so help me God.”
Cragun contacted Secretary of State John Merrill’s office to ask how he could register without signing the declaration as it is written, according to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which filed the suit on behalf of Cragun and three other plaintiffs. The next day, Cragun was told by the director of elections that no legal mechanism existed to provide an alternative, and that crossing out any portion would result in the application being rejected.
“It is deplorable that in our secular nation nontheistic citizens are encountering a religious test to register to vote,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of FFRF. “No citizen should have to choose between their right to vote and their freedom of conscience.”
Before filing the lawsuit, the organization sent a letter to Merrill’s office saying that the oath violates the First Amendment. It cited Torcaso v. Watkins, in which the Supreme Court ruled that neither a state nor the federal government can force a person to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.
Merrill declined to comment until his office has been served with the lawsuit, but according to FFRF, he has maintained that the registration forms are “prescribed by statute” and “that any changes would require legislative action.”
The lawsuit alleges that his office has the authority to create and amend voter registration forms. In a statement, FFRF noted that in all other states, voters are provided either a secular registration form or are not required to submit an oath or affirmation.
The group added that government officials routinely allow people who must take an oath, including attorneys, jurors and witnesses, “to make a secular affirmation instead when they are unable to swear ‘so help me God’ as a matter of conscience.”
The plaintiffs are seeking a permanent injunction that prohibits the secretary of state from requiring voters who register to swear “so help me God” and that requires his office to provide voter registration forms that don’t include the phrase as a requirement. They are also asking for a declaratory judgment that Merrill has violated the Constitution by not providing a secular alternative.
“The secretary of state has willfully excluded nontheist citizens from registering to vote and is coercing a statement of belief in a monotheistic god by requiring nontheists to swear a religious oath,” said Patrick Elliott, FFRF’s senior attorney in the litigation.
In its letter to Merrill, FFRF said that a constitutional ban on mandatory religious oaths is a “well-settled issue.”
In a 1972 case, Nicholson v. Bd. of Comm’rs of Ala. State Bar Ass’n, the court ruled, “We hold that it is a violation of the Constitution for the state of Alabama to compel plaintiff to swear an oath invoking the help of God as a prerequisite to entering upon the practice of law.”
The suit’s three other plaintiffs are Chris Nelson, Heather Coleman and Robert Corker.
It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Southern Division. Steven P. Gregory, of the Birmingham-based Gregory Law Firm, is local counsel. FFRF associate counsel Liz Cavell is also involved in the case.
Vestavia doctor sentenced to 30 years for producing child porn
A federal judge sentenced Ronald Tai Young Moon Jr. of Vestavia Hills, 56, to 30 years in prison.
A federal judge sentenced a former Vestavia Hills doctor to 30 years in prison for producing and possessing child pornography, U.S. Attorney Prim Escalona and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr. announced Thursday.
U.S. District Judge Annemarie Axon sentenced Ronald Tai Young Moon Jr. of Vestavia Hills, 56, to 30 years in federal prison.
“Unfortunately, this sentence will not undo the harm suffered by Moon’s victims,” Escalona said. “However, understanding that the consequences of this conduct is severe might discourage other sexual predators from victimizing innocent children in this district.”
Moon worked as a doctor at the Industrial Athlete clinic in Birmingham until his license was revoked earlier this year. Moon went to trial in February. After four days of testimony, a jury convicted Moon of possessing, producing and attempting to produce child pornography.
“I am proud of the effort put forth by my agents in order to ensure this defendant was brought to justice and will no longer be able to harm children,” Sharp said. “Moon serving the next 30 years in federal prison ensures there is one less predator victimizing the most innocent and vulnerable members of our community.”
Federal prosecutors presented evidence at trial proving that between the mid-1990s and 2012, Moon secretly recorded neighbors and guests in his own home including girls as young as 12 years old.
Some of those individuals were filmed naked, dressing and undressing. The footage was located on VHS videotapes found in the defendant’s locked private office with other pornographic VHS tapes, steps away from a TV and VCR set that was working and plugged in.
Evidence of multiple hidden-camera devices was also found in the defendant’s office.
Moon will also serve five years of supervised release after he gets out and, by law, will also be required to register as a sex offender.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Ward and First Assistant U.S. Attorney Lloyd Peeples III prosecuted the case.
The United States attorney’s office also thanked members of the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General for assisting in the investigation.
Republicans praise President Trump’s SCOTUS nomination
“The confirmation process is already proving to be another brutal fight, but I am certain that this is the job for a strong, conservative woman,” Ivey said.
President Donald Trump on Saturday nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the United States Supreme Court, and, if confirmed, Barrett would fill the vacancy created by the death of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Trump’s nomination of Barrett was met with near universal praise among Alabama Republicans including Gov. Kay Ivey and a number of other elected officials.
“I commend President Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to serve on the United States Supreme Court. Judge Barrett will be focused on interpreting the law, being an arbiter and not a lawmaker, as the Supreme Court demands of its justices,” Ivey said. “Based on her proven career and background, I am confident that Judge Barrett will be articulate and a fair supporter of issues important to Alabamians such as protecting the unborn and our Second Amendment rights, while applying the law impartially.”
Barrett has served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit since 2017. Before becoming a judge, she was a law professor at Notre Dame Law School and previously clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Ivey said Barrett will embody the precedent established by Ginsburg and further prove that a woman can be a wife, a mother, a person of faith and hold strong personal convictions while still effectively performing the duties required of a justice.
“The confirmation process is already proving to be another brutal fight, but I am certain that this is the job for a strong, conservative woman,” Ivey said. “The people of Alabama overwhelmingly supported President Trump in 2016, and I commend him for performing his constitutional duty of nominating to the Supreme Court and getting the job done that we elected him to do. The late Justice Ginsburg herself noted that even in an election year, ‘a president doesn’t stop being president.’”
“I eagerly anticipate Judge Barrett’s confirmation, and I look forward to continuing to forge a strong relationship between President Trump and the state of Alabama during his next term,” said Ivey.
All but two Republican senators appear prepared to vote for Barrett’s confirmation, all but assuring her a seat on the court and solidifying a 6-3 conservative majority.
“I am extremely pleased with President Trump’s selection in nominating Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court,” said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama. “From her clerkship for the late Justice Scalia to her tenure on the 7th Circuit, Judge Barrett has had a distinguished career and has proven her commitment to the rule of law. Our next Supreme Court Justice must be a steadfast supporter of upholding our nation’s Constitution. I have no doubt in Judge Barrett’s qualifications, and I look forward to supporting her nomination.”
Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat, has said he will not vote for any nominee until the results of the Nov. 3 election are decided.
Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan:
“President Trump has nominated a superior candidate for our nation’s highest court. Judge Amy Coney Barrett is a solid constitutional jurist who has distinguished herself both on the bench during her time on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, in academia as a law professor at the University Notre Dame and as a clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia,” Lathan said. “Judge Barrett’s focus on following the Constitution is apparent in her opinions, in cases ranging from the 2nd Amendment to immigration. Even three Democrat Senators – Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Joe Donnelly crossed party lines in 2017 to support her first nomination to the bench.”
“A mother of seven, including two adopted children from Haiti, Supreme Court nominee Barrett has been called a ‘powerhouse’ constitutionalist,” Lathan continued. “Her consistent rulings on applying laws to the words of our U.S. Constitution is the exact example of what the justices are tasked with in implementing their rulings. Based on qualifications and experience alone, Judge Barrett’s nomination merits a vote by the full United States Senate.”
Congressman Gary Palmer:
“President Trump has made an excellent choice in nominating Judge Barrett to the Supreme Court, and I extend my heartfelt congratulations to her and her family,” Congressman Gary Palmer, R-Alabama, said. “Judge Barrett has a stellar record of faithfully interpreting the law, training young lawyers, producing brilliant scholarship, and upholding the Constitution. Her devotion to her family, and her dedication to her students during her years as a law professor, are also commendable. There is no question that she is highly qualified and will make a fantastic Justice. I urge the Senate to confirm her quickly.”
Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville:
“I am so excited about President Trump’s nomination today of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Republican Senate candidate Tommy Tuberville. “She understands that’s it’s her job to interpret the Constitution as it’s written and not to manufacture new law from the bench. Her nomination opens the door to protecting unborn life, preserving our Second Amendment gun rights, and securing the religious freedoms guaranteed to us by the Constitution.”
“My opponent, Democrat Doug Jones has a very different opinion,” Tuberville continued. “He’s already announced his opposition to any candidate offered by President Donald J. Trump, and he said even meeting and listening to Judge Barrett would be useless. When it comes to giving fair consideration to President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Doug Jones is a lost ball in high cotton. But that comes as no surprise. He voted against Brett Kavanaugh and said he would have opposed Neil Gorsuch if he’d been in the Senate at the time. Democrat Doug even voted twice to remove Donald J. Trump from office. Since becoming our placeholder senator, Doug Jones has opposed everything most Alabamians support and supported everything most Alabamians oppose. Instead of representing our conservative Alabama values, he’s represented the Hollywood and New York values of his high-dollar, out-of-state campaign donors.”
“There’s no telling what kind of dishonest tactics Doug Jones, Chuck Schumer, Kamala Harris and the other Senate liberals will use against a woman who is imminently qualified to sit on our nation’s highest court,” Tuberville warned. “So I’ll close by asking you to join me in praying for Judge Barrett and her family as she faces what promises to be a tough and partisan confirmation hearing. With your prayers and support, America will soon have a strongly conservative Supreme Court, and Alabama will have a new senator who actually represents the citizens of this great state. May God bless Judge Barrett. May God bless President Donald Trump. And may God continue to bless the greatest nation mankind has ever known.”
Congressional candidate Barry Moore:
“I applaud the President for making this nomination now, as the Constitution mandates,” said Congressional candidate Barry Moore. “I’m confident that the Senate will also take up Judge Barrett’s nomination in a timely fashion and not delay the process until after the election. The Constitution doesn’t state anything about waiting until after an election to fill Supreme Court vacancies, despite what the Democrats want us to think.”
“I’m pleased that President Trump has chosen a strong pro-life woman for the Supreme Court,” Moore continued. “I’m also impressed by Judge Barrett’s credentials and experience. I am certain she’ll make an exceptional addition to the Supreme Court, and will serve us well for many years to come.”
“We, as a nation, must act now by praying for President Trump, Judge Barrett and their families,” Moore concluded. “They need to have a shield of favor and protection prayed over them. I truly believe we are in a spiritual battle for our nation and the Democrats will stop at nothing to destroy the character of Judge Barrett, as they’ve done for the last 4 years with President Trump.”
Alabama House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter:
“I join the members of the Alabama House Republican Caucus in praising President Trump’s decision to nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Alabama House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter, R-Rainsville.
“Judge Barrett clerked for one of the court’s greatest conservative jurists, Judge Antonin Scalia, and she understands that her job is to interpret the Constitution as the founding fathers wrote it, not to invent new law out of thin air,” Ledbetter said. “The suit against Alabama’s strongest-in-the-nation pro-life law is currently working its way through the federal courts, and it could be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in the near future. Having a conservative majority on the nation’s highest court will be essential to the Alabama Legislature’s efforts to protect unborn life from harm. We encourage the Senate to hold confirmation hearings as soon as possible and to hold an up-or-down vote on Judge Barrett’s nomination immediately after they conclude.”
Congressman Robert Aderholt:
“The nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to be the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court is a big win for this country,” said Congressman Robert Aderholt, R-Alabama. “She is a defender of free speech, a protector of the Constitution, and an advocate for the most vulnerable among us. I applaud President Trump for making such a great nomination, Amy Coney Barrett will make an excellent Supreme Court Justice.”
Congressman Mo Brooks:
“It is critical to a functioning republic that justices never substitute their policy beliefs for those of properly elected officials,” said Congressman Mo Brooks, R-Alabama. “Judicial activist justices not only betray the Constitution and America when they substitute their own policy beliefs for those of elected officials who are tasked by our Constitution with making American law, they also betray their oaths of office. Amy Coney Barrett has an established record of upholding the Constitution and federal law without inserting her personal political views into her decisions. As such, I look forward to her quick confirmation by the Senate.”
“Amy Coney Barrett was confirmed by the Senate to the U.S. Court of Appeals in 2017. She has already been vetted. She should easily and quickly be confirmed again,” Brooks said. “America’s founding fathers brilliantly created three branches of government, with each being a check on the other two, and each having a defined role. Congress makes law, the Executive Branch implements law, and the Judiciary interprets and applies law. In my view, America is burdened with too many liberal, activist federal justices and judges who fail to abide by their role as limited by the Constitution. I am pleased President Trump nominated a judge who understands the importance of limiting her role to that intended by America’s founding fathers.”
Former State Rep. Perry Hooper Jr.:
“I applaud President Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Bassett to serve on the US Supreme Court,” said Trump National Victory Committee Member and former State Rep. Perry Hooper Jr. “Judge Bassett is an outstanding Jurist and a committed Constitutionalist. Judge Basset will be an excellent Supreme Court Justice. Senator Mitch McConnell has a solid 51 Republican Senate votes to confirm. I just hope that the members on the other side of the Aisle will give Judge Barrett a respectfully hearing.”
Vice President Mike Pence:
Vice President Mike Pence said, “President Trump has nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. She has an unquestionable record as a strong, conservative Constitutionalist who will uphold the rule of law. Unfortunately, the Democrats will no doubt launch a vicious campaign to smear her simply because she was nominated by a Republican President.”
“They’d rather play politics than let the President of the United States do his Constitutional duty,” Pence continued. “But the American People will no longer be silenced by Washington Elites. THIS is the moment we take back our Country.”