Grass Roots Activists REexpose The 'Usual Suspects' In Another Attempt To REwrite 1901 Constitution
A group of private citizens from all corners of our State who remain concerned and continue to fight attempts to rewrite the Alabama Constitution may have found an ‘Achilles Heel’ in the current Legislature's plan for piecemeal revision. The goal of the document (misused at times) as the foundation of our State laws is to safeguard liberties for all Alabamians; citizens empower the State as the sovereign geopolitical unit in the republican form of government guaranteed in our Constitutions. The 1901 document remains in force (subject to amendments) until another constitutional convention may determine otherwise. Sadly, our nation has not adhered to peaceful delegation of power in this manner. Instead, we are a State coerced into a collation disinterested in advancing responsible liberty via the definition, enforcement and peaceful, voluntary exchange of property. This is why the current ‘piecemeal’ revision plan is in play as Big Government Mike Hubbard’s recent special election (with only 14% of eligible voter endorsement) to Amend our Constitution was vulgar enough to deter use of special elections in this manner again… that is, until the dumb masses forget about it in a few years.
This long established, well developed big government political machine, increasingly oiled with out of state money, has set out to circumvent (if not destroy) the safeguards in the document. The Alabama Constitution of 1901 has served our State well for almost six score if for no other reason than preventing big government conservatives/liberals from plunging the State further in the red as so many others (most notably California, Michigan, Illinois, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, et al) have made debt slaves of themselves and their posterity. This is the end result of any State not disciplined enough to live within their means. Readers of past columns are well aware of my affection for ‘proration’ and how strongly I advocate similar discipline for the increasingly less representative politburo in DC. Small wonder Congress approval ratings continue to plunge toward zero.
Governor Dan Malloy's plan to deal with the Connecticut budget deficit borrows $10 million to pay for required stem cell research funding and put the "savings" towards closing the deficit. In contrast to this ‘Orwellian’ speak, our State Constitution allows no deficit - wisely using proration when our State Legislature miscalculates revenues in relation to expenditures. Illinois floated $800 million in bonds to fund capital projects a week after Moody's assigned “The Land of Lincoln” the lowest credit rating of any state in the nation. If not for the well-crafted firewall in our 1901 Constitution, there’s little doubt we’d also be in fiscal destruction similar to these backward satellite states of Moscow on the Potomac.
In spite of Speaker Hubbard’s successful $3 million SPECIAL election (a few weeks before a GENERAL election) to circumvent this borrowing constraint, Dave White at the Birmingham News reported former State Sen. John Rice from Auburn sued Gov. Bentley, State Finance Director Marquita Davis and State Comptroller Thomas White from spending money under the General Fund for the 2013 fiscal year, which started October 1st. It would have blocked the unconstitutional $1.68 billion general fund budget from taking effect, since it violated State laws under the 1901 Constitutional constraint requiring the State budget must be balanced. The lawsuit filed in Montgomery County asserted, ''The Alabama constitution prohibits this reckless and irresponsible budget.'' Mr. White further reported lawyer Mark Montiel (representing Rice) saying, “State law requires a State budget's estimated revenues and spending to match up at the time the budget is passed. Counting on revenues not yet approved by voters, and that might not be approved by voters, violates the law. The law in Alabama requires that the budget, when passed, be balanced.'' Mr. White reported Montiel’s hope was Gov. Bentley would call legislators into special session to pass a new General Fund budget and quoted Bentley's press secretary (Jennifer Ardis) asserting, ''The lawsuit has no merit. Gov. Bentley is working to save taxpayer dollars. This lawsuit will only waste taxpayer dollars.'' Guess $3 million wasted in the special election to circumvent our State Constitution is money well spent to Ms. Ardis.
Sadly, Montgomery County Circuit Judge Truman Hobbs did not proceed with this lawsuit (from what I’ve found) to discourage subterfuge of this sort in the future. Sadder still, Alabama citizens do not have I&R in their arsenal to propose an amendment to repeal this September 18th special election manipulated result to transfer wealth to special interests over the general welfare. I’d like to think most Alabamians angered by this absurd 14% outcome would also support an amendment which requires all future Statewide amendments must receive 50% +1 of eligible voters to pass. Core documents are PURPOSEFULLY made difficult to easily change/bend to the whims of the “wealth transfer du jour.” This would help curb ‘special’ election waste concocted by Bentley/Hubbard BCA political hacks who now control Goat Hill. Requiring enough non pro-government thug voters must participate to effectively amend would continue blocking more destructive spending as Alabama voters did a couple years ago, rejecting a $1 billion proposal for roads and other infrastructure from the trust fund to be misused by our corrupt Department of Transportation.
The State constitution also prevents politicians from raising our taxes without a vote of the people. Is there anyone (not part of the politburo or their cronies) who’d like to give politicians even more power to raise our taxes without common consent? As one would expect from the sovereign geopolitical unit, our State Constitution gives citizens a stronger bill of rights than the US Constitution; most notable the language with respect to keeping our right to bear arms. Strong concealed carry laws confuse criminals, which promotes the positive externality to those who don’t wish to tote a firearm and reduces the workload for State/local law enforcement, ceteris paribus.
As some may recall when asked for my position on the gubernatorial campaign trail, the biggest reason NOT to revise/rewrite our State Constitution, is all the cost of RE-litigating all the revised language - even ‘honest’ errors. When one controlled for age of the 1901 Constitution, it was not amended any more than other comparable States. Now that Speaker Hubbard has shown the way to more easily circumvent this constraint to promote special interests over the general welfare, one could forecast the pace of deleterious amendments will increase. This is why I called revise/rewrites the ‘Full Employment Act for Alabama Attorneys’ which will redirect even more lawyer efforts from productive endeavours (e.g., contract negotiations, title searches, wills, etc.) to redistributive ends. No doubt those in our State who revile freedom and competition that promotes our general welfare prefer using the system to transfer wealth to their special interests; well greased by big government conservatives and liberals encroaching upon our liberties. The ongoing attacks upon the 1901 Constitution are indicative of how effective this document has been at thwarting pro-government thugs who loathe spending the resources they’ve devoted to circumvent it. Furthermore, the Goat Hill politburo hates exposing themselves for others (who are paying attention) to see the despicable game they’re playing with our rule of law.
One of the more remarkable events in the effort to stop the pro-government rewrite thugs recently occurred (Feb. 4, 2014) when this determined group of concerned citizens from around the State served/hand delivered a Writ of Quo Warranto to Senator Del Marsh signed and notarized by 12 courageous souls. Twelve righteous men who followed the teachings of our best servant of God finally ended Roman despotism. If successful (where men of good spirit and sound integrity follow the letter and spirit of the rule of law) this effort could provide the undoing of legislative attempts to revise our constitution piecemeal (one article at a time) and send the re-write special interest and their minions back to starting line. This would be a huge setback if they must adhere to process and follow the law.
Senator Marsh in the 2011 Legislative session sponsored Joint Resolution SJR82 which passed both houses with the explicit intent to authorise the Legislature to revise the document (piecemeal) instead operating within the process set in our State Constitution. Obviously, framers of the document purposefully made it difficult to accomplish changes of this sort, to curb changes that would allow out of control government results as we’ve observed in other States drowning in red ink.
Few (including lawyers) are familiar with Quo Warranto. I first came across the possibility of using it during our efforts in the US Supreme Court to get our Civil Rights to property restored. Once further packed with big government thugs like Kagan, Sotomayor and esp. Chief Justice Roberts, I forecasted it had little probability of success. According to the "American Jurisprudence" encyclopedia of United States law, a Quo Warranto is an order intended to prevent exercise of a power(s) not conferred by law. It is a legal instrument compelling someone of authority (in this case a legislator) to provide a document(s) which authorizes/empowers them to accomplish their stated end/purpose.
Action in Quo Warranto is not (in the strictest sense) a pleading and is heard ahead of any other cases on a court's docket. Following the legal tradition/function of the ancient writ (order) the Quo Warranto action/inquiry is the voice of sovereignty (under our republic, sovereignty is held by the people) calling upon the defendant (Senator Marsh) to answer/provide the authority for their actions. This is a formidable check upon public servants to remain within their authority if used and allowed. Plaintiffs (the sovereign people) are not required to either allege or prove any facts. The burden is placed upon the defendant to disclaim or justify their actions. To justify the action(s), defendants must clearly define/assert their purpose and provide facts which authorize/empower the defendant toward his/her end. The defendant(s) must tender the documents/issues on what authority claimed by defendant(s) will be used to decide the matter.
The Quo Warranto stipulated Senator Marsh must present proof the Legislature has the authority to revise/rewrite the Alabama Constitution. If Senator Marsh fails to produce his authority within fifteen days, he acquiesces/accepts the fact this authority does not exist or is not empowered to him. If this proof of authority is not provided, the individuals who submitted the Quo Warranto will notify the Alabama Attorney General to place the matter before the proper judicial branch of government. If we have an AG who follows the law, their office will proceed in stopping this unlawful endeavour in the Legislature.
The 2011 Alabama Legislature passed a resolution [SJR82] sponsored by Sen. Marsh with both houses concurring. It is NOT law but clearly established the Legislature's intent to revise the Alabama Constitution in a manner outside their authority. By definition a resolution is a formal expression of the opinion or will of an official body or public assembly and adopted by vote; since a resolution is not law, contesting it in any legal forum is meaningless. Expressed intent coupled with action determines premeditation. Premeditation is the act of meditating/planning in advance; deliberation upon a contemplated act; plotting or contriving; a design formed to accomplish an end before it is executed.
A commonly heard example/illustration is ‘premeditated’ murder: intent clearly defined, such as a letter which describes the intent of taking of someone’s life followed by the successful killing is premeditated murder. Using “premeditated murder” to illustrate the Legislative Resolution and the legislators premeditated efforts to revise the Alabama Constitution may seem a poor analogy, but contemplate how deleterious a tremendous debt burden can be to life, liberty and property in our State if the legislature wrongfully obtains the unbridled ability to alter or revise the Alabama Constitution.
The 1901 Alabama Constitution on the matter of this attempted revision provides the law/text (our Senators and Representatives have sworn an oath to uphold) which does NOT grant revision authority to the Alabama Legislature - see Article 18, Sections 284 & 286. Four Alabama Supreme Court Cases also reaffirm the Alabama Legislature DOES NOT have the authority to revise the Alabama Constitution. The following is a paragraph from the court's finding in Supreme Court of Alabama (Special Term 2013) Sandra Bell v. Luther Strange:
"In regard to it's powers to change the Constitution the Legislature, as the representative of the people has only those powers specifically granted by the people through the Constitution"
More succinct text may be found in STATE of Alabama and Don Seigelman v. Richard S.MANLEY; Tom BRASSELL v. Richard S. MANLEY where the 1983 Alabama Supreme Court wrote:
"The constitution can be amended in but two ways, either by the people, who originally framed it, or in the mode
prescribed by the instrument itself.... We entertain no doubt, that, to change the constitution in any other mode than by a convention, every requisition which is demanded by the instrument itself, must be observed, and the omission of any one is fatal to the amendment."
The Court further opined:
"The purpose of the legislative mode is to bring about amendments which are few and simple and independent; and on the other hand, that of the mode through Conventions is to revise the entire Constitution, with a view to propose either a new one, or, as the greater includes the less, to propose specific and particular amendments to it...if a revision is or may be desired, the mode by a Convention only is appropriate,"...."We entertain no doubt, that, to change the constitution in any other mode than by a convention, every requisition which is demanded by the instrument itself, must be observed, and the omission of any one is fatal to the amendment."
The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled many times our 1901 Constitution does NOT give the legislature any power to rewrite/revise the document; one article at a time or otherwise. Say a prayer the Quo Warranto served by these 12 dedicated patriotic citizens may eventually prevail; it is indeed a blessing to know 12 righteous souls of this sort are still to be found in our State. May their ranks grow into an even more formidable force to block Montgomery big government conservative and liberal special interests from even more of their despotic ends.