Votelaw, Edward Still's blog on law and politics: July 2015 Archives

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July 28, 2015

"Civil rights martyr killed in Alabama gets stone carving at National Cathedral" reports: Civil rights activist Jonathan Myrick Daniels, an Episcopal seminary student who died in Alabama in 1965 when he stepped in front of a shotgun blast aimed at black teenager Ruby Sales, has been remembered with a stone monument in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

Daniels is the third person memorialized with a bust in the Human Rights Porch of the National Cathedral. The other two are Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa. ...

The Episcopal Diocese of Alabama will celebrate Daniels the weekend of Aug. 14-16. The weekend activities will begin Friday evening in Montgomery with a program at St. John's Episcopal Church and will wrap up Sunday morning with a service at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Selma.

Morris Dees, Jr., co-founder and chief trial counsel for the Southern Poverty Law Center, will be guest speaker at St. John's at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 14.

The annual pilgrimage honoring Daniels begins at the Courthouse Square in Hayneville on Aug. 15 at 11 a.m. The procession will go to the old county jail where Daniels and others were detained, then will move to the former site of Varners Cash Grocery Store where the shooting took place. The current owner of the store, which had become an insurance agency office, demolished the building. During this year's pilgrimage a historical marker will be dedicated at the site. -- Civil rights martyr killed in Alabama gets stone carving at National Cathedral |

"Aderholt opponent Phil Norris doesn't live in district, but he doesn't have to" reports: Phil Norris wants to represent the people of Alabama's 4th Congressional District, but he won't be able to count on his own vote in a Republican primary election, should he qualify for the ballot.

Norris, a 54-year-old military veteran and a nuclear health physics technologist, lives in Dothan, some 200 miles away from the southernmost point of the 4th CD, which stretches from the Mississippi border to the Georgia state line and includes part of Tuscaloosa and all of Gadsden. He has no plans to move into the district by the March primary, but he doesn't need too.

Residency requirements for Congress only say that a candidate has to "inhabit" the state of the district they want to represent. There's a history of candidates -- and even House members -- who don't live in their districts, but they usually live adjacent to the district's boundaries.

Norris, who filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission on May 26 to run as a Republican, told that he has "emotional family ties to the district." He grew up in Hamilton, attended local schools and still has family in the area. -- Aderholt opponent Phil Norris doesn't live in district, but he doesn't have to |

July 22, 2015

Hubbard to attack constitutionality of Ethics Act reports: Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard plans to claim that parts of the state ethics law are unconstitutional, according to a request filed in court by his lawyers on Monday. ...

"Hubbard anticipates filing a motion challenging the constitutionality of various portions of the Alabama Ethics Act," and other issues, the motion says. -- Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard to claim parts of ethics law unconstitutional |

July 21, 2015

"Abortion rights group files ethics complaint against Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore" reports: Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates has filed an ethics complaint against Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.

The group claims Moore showed public support for domestic terrorism by speaking at an anti-abortion rally held by Operation Save America in Montgomery on July 11. ...

"Chief Justice Moore has a history of working contrary to federal law in promoting his own personal beliefs and agenda through the Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate as evidenced by his refusal to follow federal orders to remove the Ten Commandment monument and most recently his stance on disallowing probate judges to issue marriage licenses to couples of the same sex in violation of federal order," according to the complaint. -- Abortion rights group files ethics complaint against Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore |

For a Wikipedia article on the "Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate," go here.

July 20, 2015

"Alabama lawmakers again try to tighten campaign finance law" reports: The Alabama Legislature has again tried to tighten up the state's campaign finance law, following up on earlier efforts that haven't worked as planned.

The Fair Campaign Practices Act, on the books since 1988, has been criticized for lacking teeth and a designated authority for enforcement.

With a bill that passed during the regular session, lawmakers gave the state Ethics Commission authority to investigate violations of the act, among other changes.

The bill's sponsor, Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, said the bill, based mostly on recommendations from a study committee, "will bring a lot more transparency and accountability to our electoral system." -- Alabama lawmakers again try to tighten campaign finance law |

July 8, 2015

Study ranks Alabama least democratic (small "d") in the country reports: Alabama is the least democratic state in the Union ? ranking 51st out of a ranking of all 50 states plus the District of Columbia. The healthiest democracy apparently belongs to Maine.

At least that's the result of the new Health of State Democracies study by the Center for American Progress Action Fund (CAPAF). ...

Accessibility of ballot ? Grade: F (48th place out of 51) ...

Representation in state government Grade: D- (43rd place out of 51) ...

Influence in the political system Grade: F (46th place out of 51) -- Is Alabama the least democratic state in the Union? |

"Important to keep fighting for voting rights law"

An editorial in the Montgomery Advertiser: Sometimes you have to swing for the fences.

That's what Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Birmingham, are doing as lead sponsors of the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015.

The new bill would restore and strengthen the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, gutted by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 in Shelby County v. Holder.

The original voting rights legislation required states with histories of racial discrimination to obtain federal approval before changing voting laws. That protection helped guarantee all eligible voters the right to make their voices heard at the polls.

But the high court stripped that provision of the law, erroneously believing discriminatory election practices were a thing of the past. -- Important to keep fighting for voting rights law

NOTE: The bill can be seen at And Sen. Leahy has posted a section by section summary of the bill.