Alabama could use an effective governor and chief justice
May 20, 2016 Share

Alabama could use an effective governor and chief justice

Opinion/Editorial

By Tyler Pruett

tyler@southerntorch.com

On Friday, April 13, the U.S. departments of Justice and Education jointly released guidelines regarding the use of bathrooms by students who identify as “transgender” to America’s public schools. The directive ask that schools accommodate students who notify faculty that they identify with a different gender than what is designated on their birth certificate. The guidelines suggests that schools who do not comply could lose millions in funding.

Immediately following the release, several states vowed to fight the directives. Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) even promised to fight what many feel is “executive overreach” before the guidelines were even released. In North Carolina, the state government had already passed legislation early last week stating that people must use the bathroom that corresponds with their birth certificate. The Justice Department sued North Carolina, which the state followed by filing a countersuit.

Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Utah, Kansas, and Nebraska also have taken action against the decision. Here at home in Alabama, where we have a reputation for standing up for conservative values and our state’s rights, our Attorney General Luther Strange has pledged to challenge the federal directive. Although Strange has made his intentions known, the highest offices in Montgomery are notably silent. It can be difficult to protect the rights of your citizens while having to fight for your job.

Chief Justice Roy Moore and Governor Robert Bentley are typically our most outspoken critics of overreach by the Obama administration. Recently, both have had their political capital seriously eroded. Despite his best efforts, Bentley’s inappropriate relationship with his former chief of staff isn’t leaving the news or our minds. Justice Moore has also been rendered ineffective by a suspension due to legal action after his highly publicized fight with the federal government on same-sex marriage.

Both Moore and Bentley were elected by popular vote. Both also ran on conservative values and pledged to fight the Obama administration when it comes to our rights. This is impossible when you have no power to wage the fight. The other states challenging the guidelines can fully involve their entire state government to challenging this, but we are essentially kneecapped. When the electorate chooses you based on an expectation, it’s your duty to fulfill it, which also means not jeopardizing your ability to fulfill it.

While some could say that Chief Justice Moore is currently suspended for defending against the federal government, it’s his responsibility to do so in accordance with the law and follow the ethical norms of our legal system. A person worthy of this position will find ways to protect our interests within the confines of the law. Anything else is a waste of effort. When Moore ordered probate judges to not issue same-sex marriage licenses, he was either completely ignorant of the law, or did so and knew what the result would be.

In a similar case that went to the nation’s highest court and Alabama lost miserably, Moore invalidated a marriage between a same-sex couple in a custody battle. While the marriage was granted in Georgia before the supreme court legalized it in all 50 states, the legalization had already occurred before Moore ruled the marriage invalid, meaning that it would be under the scrutiny of the Full Faith and Credit Clause. This clause requires states to honor court rulings in their fellow states.

While our Chief Justice is suspended for valid reasons, he’s currently blaming his problems on a transgender activist from Dothan who has been organizing rallies at the capital against him. Don’t be fooled; no chief justice could be suspended or possibly removed from office because of a few sparsely attended rallies. This is textbook political strategy; finding a scapegoat to distract from the fact that our state is in this position because he placed political grandstanding above his duty.

Although Bentley currently retains all the power of an elected governor, his credibility is virtually non-existent. Not only in the state, but on a national level. The majority of his colleagues in Montgomery are either working on judicial action or actively supporting it.

The scandal in the governor’s office is much more than just a potential affair. If Rebekah Caldwell Mason had only been his chief of staff and not simultaneously taking money from special interest groups to help sway policy, this might have fallen by the wayside. It’s much more than an affair when the policies of our state may have been decided by a staffer who’s being paid a lot of money to ensure Bentley’s support. This is pay-for-play at the top and is not representative of the people who elected him.

While I find it disheartening that with all the problems in our country and in the world we are debating where people do their business, what’s even sadder is that we have very few people to defend our values in the matter. If you’ve watched the 10 p.m. news from any station in the state over the last week, you’ve likely seen the infamous Dothan transvestite, Ambrosia Starling. It’s important to realize however that if it had not been for our embattled chief justice placing her in the spotlight to cover up his own faults, no one would know her name and she wouldn’t be on your television.

While Bentley is pretending to be an effective governor and Moore is pretending he was taken down by one transgender activist, they’re not worried about the federal government making decisions in your schools and lives.

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