Since it was written in 1901, the current Alabama Constitution has been amended about 950 times, making it by far the world’s longest constitution. The amendments have also riddled the Constitution with redundancies, creating a maze of words known to befuddle even legal scholars. In addition, Alabama’s Constitution is peppered throughout with language and procedures, e.g., poll taxes, that reflect the racist intent of those who originally wrote it. While much of this language has been declared illegal and voided by twentieth century court rulings, it is still in the document and has been pointed to by other states when competing with Alabama for economic growth.
The need for a revision to Alabama’s Constitution has been long recognized and was confirmed by the Legislature in 2019 when it unanimously agreed to give the people of Alabama an opportunity to vote on an amendment for constitutional reform – Amendment 4 on the November 3 ballot. Amendment 4 will allow the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency to propose a draft to clean up and consolidate the document, putting it in a logical structure that is easier for all to understand. The revised document will not make any substantive changes to the Constitution or modify how government functions in Alabama. However, it will remove all duplication, eliminate all now illegal racist language and procedures, and make it far more easily understood by all citizens of the state. After Legislative Services creates a revised document, it will be presented to and reviewed by the Legislature. If is accepted by the Legislature, it will then be presented to the voters in November of 2022 for ratification.
Wayne Flynt, Professor Emeritus, History, Auburn University says that “unfortunately this amendment is not an opportunity to rewrite the Constitution, but it will make decisions and understanding easier. It will allow removal of duplication and words that are no longer legal.”
Amendment 4 is also supported by Cathy Randall, 2018 Yellowhammer Woman of Impact and Director, University of Alabama’s computer-based honors program, who states “Amendment 4 is a non-partisan issue that brings support from many sectors of Alabama: from educators, religious leaders, business leaders and members of all political parties.”
On November 3 vote “Yes” on Amendment 4 so that the work of streamlining and cleaning up the Alabama Constitution can begin.