2007 Archived Articles and Editorials

Great-grandson of 1901 Alabama Constitution author wants it rewritten
The Birmingham News
Sunday, November 25, 2007
HILL CARMICHAEL

Archibald Hill Carmichael was born in 1864. He grew up during Reconstruction, became a lawyer and entered politics. His political career would take him both to Montgomery, where he became speaker of the Alabama House, and Washington, D.C., as a U.S. representative for Alabama's 8th Congressional District.

Archibald Hill Carmichael was also one of the 155 favored men who convened in the summer of 1901 to write a new state constitution to replace the Alabama Constitution of 1875.
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Another reason we need reform: Amending Constitution, again
The Anniston Star
11-20-2007
In our opinion - Editorials

Alabama’s state Constitution has been amended 799 times. By now, one would think we would have gotten it right.

But that’s not the case.

In 2008, we will have the opportunity to add 25 more amendments to the ever-expanding list.

In case you do not know why our Constitution has been amended so many times, here’s why:
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The rat in ratification
The Birmingham News
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Editorial

THE ISSUE: Alabamians voted on the 1901 Constitution 106 years ago today. Only through massive voter fraud in the Black Belt were there enough votes to ratify this grievously flawed document.
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Alabamians should not fear reform, but the lack thereof
Editorials from The Daily Home
11-06-2007

Halloween may be over, but still the boogey man lurks around every corner if you listen to opponents of constitutional reform in this state.

He’s been there in the shadows for more than a century now, threatening the balance of power in Alabama. He comes in different forms – taxes, gambling, anything that might scare an Alabamian into thinking he’s better protected by a constitution that really renders him powerless.

That point isn’t lost in a new documentary, “It’s A Thick Book,” which underscores the fallacy that a document to disenfranchise poor white and black voters in 1901 could protect the masses today.
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'It's a thick book' — Reform movement is afoot to rewrite the Alabama Constitution
Area News from The Daily Home
10-28-2007
By Chris Norwood

Alabama’s Constitution of 1901, the state’s current governing document, is the longest such charter on earth. None of the state constitutions from any of the other 49 states even come close. According to Wikipedia, it is twice as long as India’s constitution, which is currently the largest national governing document in the world.
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Constitution reform calls for courage
The Birmingham News
Thursday, October 18, 2007
By John Archibald

State constitutions are meant to serve as the most vital organs of state government.

The law of the land, and all that. The principal principles.

If Alabama's constitution were an organ it would be an infected and swollen appendix. It hurts like the dickens, and it just might kill us if we don't cut the bloated thing out.
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Another reason our Constitution stinks: The smell from up north
From the Anniston Star
In our opinion
10-09-2007

Of the many complaints lodged against our current constitutional arrangement, one of the most frequent is the difficulty that local governments face when they want to regulate things in their own back yards.
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Could it happen here?
From the Anniston Star
In our opinion
09-08-2007

Down in south Alabama, near the town of Atmore, a mini-drama is being played out that should be watched by rural residents throughout the state.

Escambia County is in the heart of the pine belt. Timber has been its livelihood as long as there have been people there. And like so many similar counties, Escambia is pockmarked with clusters of houses that residents consider to be communities but in a legal sense are little more than neighborhoods.

Freemanville is one of these.
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In Alabama, reform is slow, but it truly can happen
The Huntsville Times
Sunday, September 02, 2007

If you doubt that the reform movement is alive and well in Alabama, you obviously weren't in the Harbert Center in downtown Birmingham on Thursday. There, hundreds of citizens - prominent and not so prominent - from all over Alabama gathered in a third-floor ballroom for a pivotal event: the first annual Bailey Thomson Awards Luncheon.

The event was sponsored by the Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform Foundation, an offshoot of the Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform.
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Long trek to reform worth it
The Birmingham News
September 02, 2007 11:33 AM
Tom Scarritt

Reform in Alabama is not a sprint, it is an endurance race.

The folks in our state who are striving to replace our outdated, inadequate and immoral constitution got a second or third or fourth wind Thursday at an event honoring some of the pioneers in this long journey. The energy and enthusiasm from that gathering should fuel at least a few more laps around the track
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Constitutional reformers honor Thomson
Mobile Press-Register
Friday, August 31, 2007
By SEBASTIAN KITCHEN
Capital Bureau

BIRMINGHAM -- Advocates for reforming Alabama's 1901 constitution gathered Thursday to honor a pioneer of the movement and to urge more progress in changing what they believe is a dysfunctional and antiquated document.
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Constitutional reform bid pushed
Pulitzer-winning columnist lauds effort, and those who have led it
The Birmingham News
Friday, August 31, 2007
THOMAS SPENCER
News staff writer

Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Cynthia Tucker on Thursday encouraged about 400 advocates of replacing Alabama's 1901 constitution to keep the faith, even if progress is slow.

"We've come a mighty long way," the Monroeville native told a luncheon audience at Birmingham's Harbert Center. "We have a mighty long way to go, but please, don't be discouraged by the journey."

Organized by Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform, the first annual Bailey Thomson Awards Luncheon was held to celebrate progress made toward constitutional reform and to honor contributors to the movement.
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Reforming state constitution key to solving problems, says campaigner
Mobile Press-Register
Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Many of the big problems in Alabama stem from a single 106-year-old source, according to a spokesman for Greater Birmingham Ministries.

It's Alabama's 1901 Constitution.

"When you really get to talking about a way to solve the major problems in Alabama, that way is the Alabama Constitution," said Hill Carmichael, coordinator of the group's constitutional reform campaign. "Whether you're talking about public transportation or tax reform -- pretty much anything you talk about -- it's the constitution. The way we say it is, the constitution is every issue and every issue is the constitution."

On Aug. 30, Greater Birmingham Ministries will be honored for its campaign at the first-ever Bailey Thomson Awards Luncheon in Birmingham, sponsored by the Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform Foundation.
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A limited cleanup
The Huntsville Times
Wednesday, June 20, 2007

New law points up the need to reform the constitution

While the rest of the country may judge Alabama as anachronistic because of the recent legislative punch-out, it would probably be more surprised to learn that some counties are just getting around to imposing and enforcing laws that regulate the accumulation of junk on private property.
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Letting local governments govern
The Birmingham News
Saturday, June 07, 2007

THE ISSUE: It shouldn't take Prichard or any other city or county three years to get something done, but that's often the case because of Alabama's awful constitution.
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Number 800: It's a travesty to all citizens of this state
Hunstville Times
Sunday, June 03, 2007

I have an 800 number for you, but I don't suggest that you call it - because you can't. The 800 number is the number Alabama is rapidly approaching in its total aggregation of state constitutional amendments.
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A fraudulent constitution
From the Birmingham News
Sunday, May 27, 2007

THE ISSUE: This past week 106 years ago, the 1901 Constitution's framers began drafting the document that would constrain Alabama's people and its governments.
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Isn't it ironic?
From the Birmingham News
Editorial
Sunday, May 06, 2007

THE ISSUE: The Alabama Farmers Federation helped kill a bill that would let voters have their say on a new constitution. Lawmakers who voted Alfa's way said they saved voters from special interests.

Tuesday, a powerful special-interest group flexed its muscles in the Legislature to help kill a bill its opponents said would let powerful special-interest groups flex their muscles in the Legislature.

The irony is likely lost on opponents of a new state constitution who ensured, for another year, there won't be one.
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Elected officials don't trust voters
From the Montgomery Advertiser
Friday, May 4,
2007

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Democracy loses another round
From the Anniston Star Editorials
In our opinion
05-03-2007

This looked like the year that the Legislature would vote to allow Alabamians to decide if they wanted a convention to write a new Constitution. It didn't happen. The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Demetrius Newton, D-Birmingham, pulled the proposal Tuesday when he realized that he did not have the votes on a procedural measure that had to pass to bring the convention plan to the floor.
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Good reason to be unhappy
Editorial from the Birmingham News
Monday, April 30, 2007

THE ISSUE: The state House of Representatives needs to take the next step toward a new constitution by approving a bill that would "let the people vote."

Whatever their T-shirts lacked in taste, they made up for it by being right on message: "We're unhappy because our constitution is crappy."

Many of those gathered Wednesday on the steps of the state Capitol sported the bright red shirt. The crowd of about 120 people, mostly college students, was there to rally for a bill that would let voters decide whether they want a citizens convention to write a new Alabama Constitution.
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House may set Feb 5. for vote
The Birmingham News
Friday, April 27, 2007 DAVID WHITE
News staff writer

MONTGOMERY - The state House of Representatives next week likely will vote on a plan that would let state voters decide Feb. 5 whether to call a convention of 210 delegates to rewrite the state constitution, said Rep. Demetrius Newton, D-Birmingham.

Newton is the second-ranking House member. He said the plan, which he is sponsoring, likely will come up for debate and possible approval Tuesday or Wednesday.
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Constitution reform gains momentum
The Montgomery Advertiser
By Paul W. Sullivan
April 26, 2007

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Convention bill could come to vote next week, speaker pro tem says
Press-Register
Thursday, April 26, 2007 By BRIAN LYMAN
Capital Bureau

MONTGOMERY -- A bill that would allow Alabamians to decide whether to call a constitutional convention could come to a vote in the House of Representatives as early as next week.

Speaker Pro Tem Demetrius Newton, D-Birmingham, the sponsor of the legislation, said at a constitutional convention rally Wednesday that the bill would pass if it can get past a vote on a budget isolation resolution, a procedural requirement on all legislation taken up before the state's budgets.

"If we get the votes on the BIR, we'll pass it," he said. "And I certainly wouldn't want to be one of the folks to vote against the BIR, even if I was on the other side."
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Lawmakers: Heed call for constitutional reform convention
Daily Home
Editorials
04-15-
2007

Dueling efforts at constitutional reform in Alabama ought to tell voters and lawmakers something. The momentum is building once again for change – in any form.

State Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, is following the years-long lead of the late Jack Venable, a state representative who fought until his death for changing the constitution one article at a time. It couldn’t be done then, and its prospects of success in the future are none too encouraging.

Demetrius Newton, D-Birmingham, is renewing his fight to change the constitution in its entirety through a constitutional convention of citizens.

If we get a vote, we cast ours for the latter. It represents what democracy is supposed to be about – giving the people a chance to have a say in their own government.

In reality, the people have already spoken. In polls, in resolutions, in petitions, they say they want a new constitution. They want a constitution that puts the power back in their hands, not in those of special interests and a select group of lawmakers in Montgomery.
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Piecemeal reform not the best way: Redo all of the Constitution
The Anniston Star
In our opinion
04-11-
2007

For years the late Rep. Jack Venable argued that Alabama’s Constitution needed to be rewritten. But Venable, ever a member of the Statehouse gang, felt the rewriting should be done by the Legislature — article by article.

Venable even got some of his proposals passed in the House, but as has been so often the case in years past, reform bogged down in the Senate.

Sadly, Venable is no longer with us, but his torch has been picked up by Rep. Paul DeMarco, R-Homewood, who has introduced bills that would rewrite the banking and corporation portions of the document.
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James L. Evans: Let the people decide
Op-Ed Columns
from the Anniston Star
04-13-2007

The minister who mentored me used to say, “Jim, don't be afraid to trust the people.”

His reference, of course, was to the many decisions Baptist congregations make week in and week out. These decisions range from what color to paint the fellowship hall to who will serve as leaders in the church.

“People who are committed to the well-being of the church,” my mentor would say, “have a way of making the right decision.”

After serving Baptist churches now for more than 30 years I have no reason to doubt that wisdom. People of good faith and good will can be trusted to do the right thing. We may not be perfect, but for the most part we manage to stay on a good and faithful path.

I can't help but believe that the same is true for larger and more diverse communities-like the state of Alabama, for instance. I understand that there are special-interest groups who are only interested in what affects their interests. I also know that these interest groups often hold great sway over our elected leaders and have significant resources for persuading the public at large. But I believe that most of the people in our state who are trying to live meaningful lives also are capable of thinking for themselves.
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Constitution convention bill clears panel
The Birmingham News
Thursday, April 12, 2007
DAVID WHITE - News staff writer

MONTGOMERY - State voters would decide Feb. 5 whether to call a convention of 210 delegates to rewrite the state constitution, under a bill approved Wednesday by a legislative panel.

The Constitution and Elections Committee of the state House of Representatives voted 8-5 for the plan sponsored by Rep. Demetrius Newton, D-Birmingham.

Newton said he was pleased, especially since the same committee killed a similar bill he sponsored last year. "I think it's a first step in the right direction."
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Bills offer hope for constitutional rewrite
Press-Register
Monay, March 19, 2007

IF THE Alabama constitution were a truck, it would be a 1901 wooden wagon pulled by big mules, because no one made a pickup before 1902. The mules would be old and skinny, hardly capable of pulling the bloated constitution that has acquired so many amendments (more than 700) that it has become the longest constitution in the nation.

The wood slats and bottom of the 1901 wagon would be rotted, mildewed and broken. The wheels would be rusted and bent, the harness decayed and patched together.

It wouldn't serve the needs of 21st century Alabamians any better than the real constitution does.
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Persistence can win
Alabama needs a new state constitution, and as soon as possible
The Huntsville Times
Sunday, March 11, 2007

To get things done in Alabama in the realm of public policy, you have to be persistent - very persistent.  And someday it can pay off.
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1901 Constitution holds back state
Montgomery Advertiser
Friday, March 9, 2007

The Montgomery Advertiser urges citizens to take opportunity to view "It's a Big Book," documentary on Alabama's Constitution.
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Courting a new state constitution
The Birmingham News
Thursday, February 22, 2007

THE ISSUE: The Circuit Judges Association hops aboard the bandwagon for a new fundamental charter for Alabama. There's still lots of room left, especially for legislators' constituents.
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Road Issue Another Case for Reform
Montgomery Advertiser
Friday, January 19, 2007

The Montgomery Advertiser had an excellent editorial on Friday, January 19, 2007 on the need for constitutional reform titled "Road Issue Another Case for Reform".
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State haunted by 1901 constitution
Press-Register
Sunday, January 07, 2007 By ROBERT M. SHAEFER
Special to the Press-Register
Mobile, Alabama

According to the Alabama Constitution of 1901, "The state shall not engage in works of internal improvements."

What an amazing document. It clearly and unabashedly prohibits our state from improving itself.

Why does our constitution forbid improvement, when no other state constitution prohibits progress? The answer is simple: The framers of Alabama's infamous fundamental law did not want to benefit the citizens in any way, shape or form.
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Will '07 bring new Constitution?
Anniston Star
In our opinion
Editorials
01-06-2007

Despite the fact that polls show a majority of Alabamians support efforts to rewrite our antiquated Constitution; despite the fact that the state's democratic heritage all but demands that Alabamians be given the opportunity to vote on how this rewriting would be done; and despite the fact that Alabama legislators are elected by the same people who want to vote on this issue; last year enough of these representatives blocked legislation that would give citizens the right to choose.
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