J. Lathram, J., Paul DeMarco, J.
Constitutional Reform Continues
On November 8, 2016, we will have the right to exercise one of the greatest privileges in America as we vote. Most of the country will be focused on the outcome of one of the more interesting presidential elections of all time, the outcome of congressional races and, in some instances, gubernatorial and other state races. However, in addition to all of those races, here in Alabama we will also have the opportunity to vote on a number of amendments to our state constitution.
all too familiar with the many facts and some folklore
associated with our 1901 Constitution, its foundation, its
length and the many failed efforts to replace it.
Nevertheless, we are in the midst of one of the most positive
efforts in its 115-year history to improve it. As was more
fully discussed in this column in January 2012, the
legislature created the Constitution Revision Commission in
2011. That commission, chaired by former Governor Albert
Brewer, was charged with leading the effort to revise the
Alabama Constitution on an article-by-article basis. This
article-by-article approach is the only mechanism available
to the legislature.
The article-by-article approach has been successful three times in the past. In 1973, Article VI, relating to the judiciary, was revised in an effort led by then-Chief Justice Howell Heflin. The article-by-article approach was followed again in 1996 when Representative Jack Venable led the effort to revise Article VIII, relating to suffrage and elections. Finally, in 2012, Articles XII (corporations) and XIII (banking) were ratified following their passage upon the recommendation of the Constitutional Revision Commission. The endeavor to revise Articles XII and XIII began in 2007, with proposed revised articles being introduced in the legislature each session since. The revisions actually passed one of the houses of the legislature on numerous occasions, but could not get through both houses until 2012. With the installation of the commission, the effort was re-energized. After minor...