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Monday, May 16, 2016
Federal law remains supreme, Decatur Daily Editorial
When it comes to abortion, gay marriage and myriad other issues, Alabama politicians are determined to exceed the constitutional limits of their authority.
No matter what your opinion to the above issues is, facts are facts. As addressed below. Alabama Law Makers please stop making us look like the back end of a
All three leaders, Governor Bentley, Mike Hubbard, and Roy Moore, should know by now to uphold the U.S. Constitution. We are not excluding Big Luther and Sheriff Ana Franklin either. They just haven't been in the news. Yet! How many times has Alabama won these cases using the Amendment Number Nine of The Bill of Rights?
The Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1788, is neither ambiguous nor complex, but it is a brick wall against which Alabama politicians love to beat their heads.
“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof ... shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”
The clause was not adopted casually. It was omitted from the Articles of Confederation, which were ratified by the 13 states in 1781, and the results were chaotic.
As James Madison explained in 1788, a constitution that failed to place supreme authority in the laws of the nation rather than the states “would have seen the authority of the whole society everywhere subordinate to the authority of the parts; it would have seen a monster, in which the head was under the direction of the members.”
Alabama officials were once again trying to create a monster last week.
Gov. Robert Bentley on Tuesday signed an abortion bill into law that prohibits any abortion clinic from being within 2,000 feet of public elementary and middle schools. The stated rationale for the law was not that students would stop by for an abortion during recess, but that anti-abortion protesters would be disruptive. At least in Huntsville, the protesters recognized the irony. They were as disruptive as possible to a nearby school to provide the bill with momentum during the legislative session.
The genesis of the law, as everyone in the state understands, has nothing to do with protecting school children. A few minutes with Google Maps made it clear to lawmakers that banning the clinics from locating within 2,000 feet of a public school would eliminate the state’s two main abortion providers.
The clash between morality, biology and individual liberty when it comes to abortion is horribly complex, but it’s an issue that must be resolved through the U.S. Constitution. And it has been, albeit in a way that disturbs many in this state. Working with other Americans, Alabamians can change that constitution. Or they can elect presidents who appoint more conservative Supreme Court justices. But the authority of Alabama lawmakers is limited by the U.S. Constitution as interpreted by federal judges, and it always has been.
Likewise, the authority of Roy Moore, the recently suspended chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, is limited by the U.S. Constitution. He chose to ignore that limitation in 2003 by defying a federal court order and refusing to remove a massive Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building, and he was booted from office as a result. This year he instructed probate judges to defy federal law regarding gay marriages, which resulted in his suspension and could once again result in his removal from office.
Under the Articles of Confederation, Alabama’s lawmakers and courts would have the authority they crave. But precisely because the Articles left too much power to the states, they were a relic of history by the time Alabama became a state in 1819. A main reason for the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, including the Supremacy Clause, was a hard-won recognition that the United States could not function unless national law trumped the laws of the individual states.
Instead of constantly banging their heads against a wall — and sticking their constituents with the legal bills — it’s time Alabama politicians accepted the limitations on their power.