Dumb Home Alabama

368px-Seal_of_Alabama.svgBy Gene Howington

There were many initiatives on various state ballots this mid-term election that were followed by the media such as marajuana, minimum wage, and abortion rights to name a few. One that didn’t catch the notice of the MSM was Alabama’s Foreign Laws in Court Amendment 1. Originally this bill was sponsored in the state legislature by Alabama Senator Gerald Allen (R. – Dist. 21). What does it do? It explicitly forbids Sharia law in Alabama courts.

What makes this curious is that the bill was originally defeated in the Alabama legislature and the fact that Sharia was simply never in danger of being imposed by a state court. Such a ruling would never pass Constitutional muster under the 1st Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause which reads:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.

This is something that should be filed under “D” for “duh” if you ever took civics in junior high or high school let alone if you are a legal expert or legislator familiar with the constraints of your job. The Alabama legislature was right to defeat this bill. It’s prime facie nonsense. Randy Brinson, president of the Christian Coalition of Alabama and critic of the bill, called the vote a “tremendous waste of effort”.  In an interview with Birmingham News last week, Brinson also noted that “Sharia law is not going to be implemented in Alabama, it just isn’t.”  Now when the president of a Christian special interest group comes out against a bill like this, that ought to be a sign that you’re barking up the wrong tree.

Or were they?

Traditionally, the ballot process is used to decide politically sensitive issues through a direct vote.  This clearly wasn’t a legally sensitive issue as it is a legal nullity. However, let’s look at the politically “sensitive” aspect of the issue. I submit that this issue wasn’t sensitive so much as it was pandering to the base at the rawest of red meat levels. Keep in mind that Alabama is where a State Supreme Court judge, Roy Moore (R), was ousted from office over refusing to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from the rotunda in the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery only later to regain his job at the polls. The voters there seem to have no problem with imposing Christian values upon the legal system. The placement of this already defeated bill on the ballot reeks of pandering to that reflexive, dogmatic and legally ignorant train of thought and a Crusader-like mentality. There is no room for the state to either endorse or prohibit the exercise of any religion. Ours is a secular form of government and it was created so by the Founders on purpose having seen the horrors in Europe created in the name of a state religion. That means nobody’s religion gets to determine our laws. Even Christianity. But in the political atmosphere of such a fundamentally religious and fundamentalist state like Alabama, is there any other reason to put a legal nullity on the ballot that appears to favor Christians and disparage Islam other than pandering?  Judging by the vote, if pandering was the goal, maybe that dog was barking at something up that tree.

What do you think?

NOTE: All apologies to Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Source: Reuters

About Gene Howington

I write and do other stuff.
This entry was posted in Alabama, Christianity, Constitutional Law, Courts, Islam, Religion, States. Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Dumb Home Alabama

  1. Elaine M. says:


    You are SO wrong! Didn’t you know that God–the Christian God– wrote the Constitution? Tom DeLay said so:

    Former GOP House Majority Leader Tom Delay: Americans have forgotten that God “wrote the Constitution”
    The George W. Bush-era relic still exists, apparently, and is still ridiculous VIDEO

    The last time he was in the news, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was celebrating not going to jail for being outrageously corrupt. That was a good moment for him.

    But now DeLay is back, this time for saying silly things during an interview with Pastor Matthew Hagee, the son of the influential far-right (and seemingly antisemitic) Pastor John Hagee.

    During a recent appearance on Hagee the Younger’s program, DeLay started waxing philosophic on just where America went wrong. His conclusion? “I think we got off track when we allowed our government to become a secular government.”

    That wasn’t the totality of DeLay’s analysis, however. The former congressman — who was once known as “the Hammer,” probably because he was such a nice guy? — continued to explain that America messed up when its people “stopped realizing that God created this nation, that He wrote the Constitution, that it’s based on Biblical principles…”

    DeLay went on to complain that he and other members of the religious right messed up when “we allowed those that don’t believe in those things to keep pushing us and pushing us and pushing us away from the government instead of standing up and being unashamedly a follower of Jesus Christ and fighting for our values in our society.”

  2. Well if DeLay thinks I’m wrong, then I must be on to something valid. :mrgreen:

  3. blouise says:

    When I look around at all the craziness I am reminded of that peculiar time in our recent history when the aberration named McCarthyism consumed us. We are quite capable of allowing the dumbest of the dumb to incite and to lead us.

  4. Anonymously Yours says:

    Seems like the duh state of Alabama has never heard of what’s called jurisdiction and comity…. But, hey there’s also the URJA which allows a foreign judgment to be filed in the state where the defendant can be found…. So what cha gonna do bubba…. When they come for you….

    A side issue, with all of the toll roads being privatized, how does the state have jurisdiction to enforce state traffic laws or even the enforcement of collection of fees? Seems private enterprises are good until you need government help.

  5. Anonymously Yours says:


  6. buckaroo says:

    I wish some one would explain to a history teacher the difference between a historical & religious monument – that seems to me to be saying that some blasphemous words used always have religious meanings. Such seems like beauty, it meaning lies in the beholder and not judicial interpretation. Perhaps, some see it as needing an advisory plebiscite

  7. Annie says:

    Well, Democrats have been calling Wisconsin Wississippi since Walker became Governor. It’s amazing how the race to the bottom is seen as desirable by voters in Wisconsin. A state of dichotomies, McCarthy and LaFollete, the birthplace of Progressivism. Oh how far a state can drop when cognitive dissonance is a trait of the majority. It breaks my heart to see what has happened to my wonderful state. Northern states emulating southern regressivness.

  8. swarthmoremom says:

    http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120134/climate-change-denier-james-inhofe-lead-environment-committee “In handing Republicans control of the Senate on Tuesday, Americans effectively voted for the party’s hostile plans against President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy. Their votes also put the Senate’s environment and climate policy into the hands of the worst science-denier in national politics: Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, who is almost certainly the next chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

    Inhofe claimed in 2003 that global warming might help humanity. “It’s also important to question whether global warming is even a problem for human existence. Thus far no one has seriously demonstrated any scientific proof that increased global temperatures would lead to the catastrophes predicted by alarmists. In fact, it appears that just the opposite is true: that increases in global temperatures may have a beneficial effect on how we live our lives.”

    In that same speech, he argued that an international body of climate change scientists “resembled a Soviet-style trial, in which the facts are predetermined, and ideological purity trumps technical and scientific rigor.”” Talk about dumb.

  9. bigfatmike says:

    “I wish some one would explain to a history teacher the difference between a historical & religious monument ”

    If the point you are making is that, religious monuments are likely to also have historical content, then I agree.

    But that does not make them any less objectionable. Moore’s monument seems to suggest that christian ideas should play an important role in the cases that come before the court.

    I think that is deeply offensive. Judges, as much a possible, should leave their religion outside the court room and decide case on the legislation, legislative history, and case law. Every defendant and every litigant should be able to approach the court confident that the law and not religion will be applied to the case.

    If we allow the Moores of the world to apply their religious views to the proceedings then what principle prevents a radical Muslim or Hindu judge from using his religious view.

    I have no problem with Christian, Muslim or Hindu judges – so long as they leave their religious convictions out of the case.

  10. blouise17 says:

    The wealth of comedic material that will be flowing out of Washington for the next two years is going to overwhelm even the most dedicated comedian.

  11. Annie says:

    So true Blouise, I’m actually looking forward to seeing what this new Congress comes up with, like poker players showing their hand too early. Interesting times.

  12. “that seems to me to be saying that some blasphemous words used always have religious meanings.”

    By definition, they do.

    blasphemy /ˈblasfəmi/, n., The action or offence of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things; profane talk: (OED)

  13. Annie;

    The nation (even these blogs at time) have the plague of “C.D.” And what the new Congress will come up with, is 2 cannons ramming BS slings and arrows at the non-Caucasian with the queer name; setting stream lining their 2016 Mitt the Pitts run to have it all (come hell or high water).

    For the next 2 years, we are going to be eased into a decade long slamming!

  14. OroLee says:


    Not only the erudite Thomas Jefferson, the wily and elusive Ben Franklin, and the underappreciated Thomas Paine, but also Ethan Allen, the hero of the Green Mountain Boys, and Thomas Young, the forgotten Founder who kicked off the Boston Tea Party—these radicals who founded America set their sights on a revolution of the mind. Derided as “infidels” and “atheists” in their own time, they wanted to liberate us not just from one king but from the tyranny of supernatural religion.


  15. pete says:

    FREEBIRD WHOO WHOO!!!! (holding up cigarette lighter)

    (sorry, h/s graduation flashback)

  16. Just a reminder about what we are dealing with, exactly. Unfortunately, the people interviewed in the video below are not an anomaly. They are the norm in our modern society. These young people are not uneducated rednecks who flunked out of third grade. They have all kinds of useless pop culture trivia at their fingertips.

  17. Horace Greeley says:


    There is more to this…..

    it is also about Roper and the execution of minors. I’m gonna be thin on specifics ’cause I read the article too quickly and I’ve had a glass or two, but Kennedy apparently pissed off Alabama by mentioning international law and the execution of minors and Alabama likes to kill who they want to no matter how old or how dumb.

    I’ll try to locate my source.

  18. Horace Greeley says:

    that would be Kennedy of the Supremes.

  19. Horace Greeley says:

    and here are some more interesting points from Sullivan’s blog:

    “Looking over the situations in which Alabama courts would typically come into contact with foreign law, Amanda Taub remarks on the legal uncertainties the amendment creates:

    Start with disputes governed by foreign law, which are common. Consider, for instance, what might happen if a couple was married overseas, but then sought a divorce in Alabama. Or if they adopted a child overseas, but then a custody dispute came before Alabama courts. Such cases would, by necessity, require Alabama courts to consider foreign law in order to determine the validity of the marriage, adoption, or custody agreement. After Amendment One, it’s not clear whether, or how, they will be able to do so.

    It’s also extremely common for contracts to be governed by foreign law, through what is called a “choice of laws” clause. Amendment One carves out an exception for “Alabama business persons and companies,” who may decide to use foreign law in Alabama Courts. But it’s not clear how that exception will be applied, because the very same clause says that “the public policy of Alabama is to prohibit anyone from requiring Alabama courts to apply and enforce foreign laws” — which appears to directly contradict the exception. That’s a potential nightmare for companies that do business in the state, who now don’t know if their choice of law clauses will be enforced, or if global contracts will now become subject to uncertain interpretation as soon as they cross Alabama state lines.”

    dumbass alabamians

  20. Delay, the kind of man that Jack Abramoff catered to; able to escape jail when caught.

    Alabama, the Karl Rove state able to put Governor Siegelman in prison;
    when he wasn’t caught doing anything; but pissing off Rove and USA Canary.

  21. HG,

    I considered writing on the renvoi aspects of the matter, but decided that (as I was a bit short on time) was a whole ‘nother rabbit hole. Thanks for bringing it up though. It’s a good example too of the ripple effect poorly thought out legislation can have.

  22. bron98 says:

    Although foreign judgments are entitled to a degree of deference and respect under the doctrine of comity, courts will nonetheless deny recognition and enforcement to those foreign judgments which are inconsistent with the public policies of the forum state. Malik v. Malik, 99 Md.App. 521, 534, 638 A.2d 1184, 1190 (1994) (“where [a foreign] judgment is … against public policy… it will not be given any effect by our courts”).

    So a couple of cases here and a couple of cases there and pretty soon you are citing the Quran.

    Maybe Alabamyians aint that dumb?

  23. No, not the best source, Bron, but it also ignores that traditionally people have had the option of resolving disputes through private religiously based “courts” . . . if both parties agree to do so. This is really no different than private arbitration instead of a court battle and historically if one party bucks the proceedings and opts for civil court, civil court trumps (especially if the outcome or process in questions is at odds with established non-secular legal principle or process). Don’t get me wrong. We should be aware when Muslims try to substitute their ecclesiastical legalism for established American jurisprudence, but we should be aware when any religion tries to do so. Especially if one or more of the parties doesn’t agree with the notion of a private ecclesiastical court. The whole hubbub about “Sharia is going to take over American courts”? Is a tempest in a teapot designed to play upon the fears of the legally ignorant and religiously bigoted. So long as the Establishment Clause holds, it’s not possible. And if the 1st Amendment were to disappear tomorrow? The greatest religious threat to our non-secular form of government wouldn’t be Islam. Mathematically it would be some form of dominionist/fundamentalist Christianity as some form of Christianity is by far the dominant religion in this country as a matter of demographics.

  24. Bron,

    You are taking the exact inverse meaning of Malik. The really important part of that cite is after the comma.

  25. Anonymously Yours says:


    I respect your point, however if a state court refuses to honor a valid treaty respecting any law that it finds repugnant a writ of superintending contril can be issued by a court of competent jurisdiction. The state will have to enforce, regardless. Even if it finds it repugnant. A case that will be interesting is one coming out of Texas where a court refused to hear a case for divorce because it does not sanction same sex marriages. That’s a conflict of law and yes, and under the doctrine of comity they may not have a choice. Because it’s a valid marriage in the
    state where they were married.

    That’s like saying a court won’t enforce a state of Tennessee dispute because they don’t like whiskey made in Hardin County.

  26. Bob Stone says:

    “nobody’s religion gets to determine our laws.”


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