Recommendations for Voting on the State-Wide Ballot Amendments

Below are explanations for the state-wide amendments that everyone will see on their ballot.  Local amendments are not included but sample ballots can be found here by county.  These recommendations are not “official”.  They are formed by consensus of our legislative team and we are comfortable sharing them with you.  We hope they are helpful.  The italicized words are what you will see on the ballot.  Our comments are in red. 

QUICK REFERENCE:
Amendment 1: YES Amendment 2: NO Amendment 3: YES
Amendment 4: NO Amendment 5: YES Amendment 6: YES

AMENDMENT 1:  YES
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to amend Article VIII of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 177 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to provide that only a citizen of the United States has the right to vote.

Explanation: Only citizens of the U.S. can vote in Alabama.  This amendment needs no extra explanation and should already be in the Constitution.  We recommend a “yes” vote.

AMENDMENT 2:  NO
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to increase the membership of the Judicial Inquiry Commission and further provide for the appointment of the additional members; further provide for the membership of the Court of the Judiciary and further provide for the appointment of the additional members; further provide for the process of disqualifying an active judge; repeal provisions providing for the impeachment of Supreme Court Justices and appellate judges and the removal for cause of the judges of the district and circuit courts, judges of the probate courts, and judges of certain other courts by the Supreme Court; delete the authority of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to appoint an Administrative Director Courts; provide the Supreme Court of Alabama with authority to appoint an Administrative Director of Courts; require the Legislature to establish procedures for the appointment of the Administrative Director of Courts; delete the requirement that a district court hold court in each incorporated municipality with a population of 1,000 or more where there is no municipal court; provide that the procedure for the filling of vacancies in the office of a judge may be changed by local constitutional amendment ; delete certain language relating to the position of constable holding more than one state office; delete a provision providing for the temporary maintenance of the prior judicial system; repeal the office of circuit solicitor; and make certain nonsubstantive stylistic changes.

This act creates a process to fill vacancies in the position of Administrative Director of Courts. This amendment proposes six changes to the state’s judicial system. In summary, this amendment:

  1. Provides that county district courts do not have to hold city court in a city with a population of less than 1,000; (The district courts have jurisdiction over all matters related to municipal ordinance in cities with a population of less than 1000 that has no municipal court.  This change just says that the judge no longer hears such cases within the city, but will hear them in the regular district court in the county seat.)  
  2.  Allows the Alabama Supreme Court, rather than the Chief Justice, to appoint the Administrative Director of Courts;   (The Constitution says that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court has responsibility for administering all matters related to the operation of the courts and will appoint the Administrative Director of Courts to assist him or her. This amendment would give this appointment to the full Supreme Court.  The Chief Justice needs someone who will support and work with him or her.  This amendment could create disharmony on the court if the Administrator is responsible to the Chief Justice, but whose job depends on the entire court.)  
  3. Increases from 9 to 11 the total membership of the Judicial Inquiry Commission and determines who appoints each member (the Judicial Inquiry Commission evaluates ethics complaints filed against judges);  We can’t find a reason for this change in the legislation that passed this amendment.
  4.  Allows the Governor, rather than the Lieutenant Governor, to appoint a member of the Court of the Judiciary.  The Court of the Judiciary hears complaints filed by the Judicial Inquiry Commission.  
  5. Prevents a judge from being automatically disqualified from holding office simply because a complaint was filed with the Judiciary Inquiry Commission; and
  6.  Provides that a judge can be removed from office only by the Court of the Judiciary. (Innocent until proven guilty)

FINAL ANALYSIS: This amendment has some good points that we like but number two is bothersome. Since this is an all points or nothing vote, we recommend a “no” vote.  There should not be this many different issues in one amendment.

AMENDMENT 3:  YES
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that a judge, other than a judge of probate, appointed to fill a vacancy would serve an initial term until the first Monday after the second Tuesday in January following the next general election after the judge has completed two years in office.

This amendment changes the initial term of a judge that is appointed to fill a vacancy.   It does not apply to probate judges.  Under current law, the initial term of office for a person appointed to fill a vacancy in a judgeship shall last until the end of the term remaining in the judgeship in question if the appointed judge has completed one year in office or until the remainder of the original term of office, whichever is longer.  Under this scenario the time an appointed judge could serve without an election would vary depending on the length of time remaining in the initial six-year term of office.   Under this amendment, if an appointed judge has served in the appointed position for 2 years, the judgeship shall be filled by election in the next General Election.  This would mean the appointed judge eliminates the option to serve until the end of the original term, but extends the time he or she could serve until having to stand for election.  We recommend a “yes” vote.

AMENDMENT 4:  NO
Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize the Legislature to recompile the Alabama Constitution and submit it during the 2022 Regular Session, and provide a process for its ratification by the.) voters of this state.

Alabama’s constitution can be changed only during a constitutional convention or when a majority of voters approve a constitutional amendment.  If a majority of voters vote “yes” on Amendment 4, the Alabama Legislature, when it meets in 2022, would be allowed to draft a rearranged version of the state constitution. This draft could only:

  1.  remove racist language,
  2.  remove language that is repeated or no longer applies,
  3.  combine language related to economic development, and
  4.  combine language that relates to the same county. No other changes could be made. Even if passed by the Alabama Legislature, this rearranged version would not become law until it was approved by a majority of voters.

The Alabama Constitution is long for a reason. Much of the additions to it are local laws.   However, in light of more discussion and a closer look at the enabling legislation we have changed our recommendation to a “NO” vote.  We continue to support Article by Article revisions to our Constitution.  If this amendment does pass it still will require one more vote of the people before becoming law so we are not too worried about it at this time.

AMENDMENT 5: YES
Relating to Franklin County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that a person is not liable for using deadly physical force in self-defense or in the defense of another person on the premises of a church under certain conditions.

Alabama’s “Stand Your Ground” law allows a person to legally use physical force against another person under certain conditions. The law does not require the person to retreat before using physical force.  If the amendment passes statewide and also within Franklin County it will add churches in Franklin County to be covered by the Stand Your Ground law. Since this would only take effect if the voters of Franklin County approve it, we recommend a “YES” vote. 

AMENDMENT 6: YES
Relating to Lauderdale County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that a person is not liable for using deadly physical force in self-defense or in the defense of another person on the premises of a church under certain conditions.

Alabama’s “Stand Your Ground” law allows a person to legally use physical force against another person under certain conditions. The law does not require the person to retreat before using physical force.  If the amendment passes statewide and also within Lauderdale County it will add churches in Lauderdale County to be covered by the Stand Your Ground law. Since this would only take effect if the voters of Lauderdale County approve it, we recommend a “YES” vote.