On Nov. 3 Alabamians will have the opportunity to adjust various portions of the state’s constitution and will potentially allow the legislature to begin to remove racist and discriminatory language from the Alabama Constitution.
The constitution, which is the sixth the state has had, was passed in 1901 and Alabamians have been amending it ever since — 946 times in total since the document’s passage.
The first proposed amendment that will appear on the Alabama Constitution will require that "only a citizen of the United States has the Right to vote."
Largely, Statewide Amendment 1 would have little to no change to the execution of Alabama elections as Federal legislation already requires that an individual be a citizen of the US to vote in US elections; however, some advocacy groups and critics argue that by amending this language into the Alabama Constitution would potentially allow for future voter suppression tactics to be adopted.
The second proposed amendment adjust various portions of the Alabama Judicial System.
It increases the members of the Judicial Inquiry Commission, which was responsible for removing former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme court Roy Moore twice, by two. This would increase the commission’s membership from nine to 11.
It would also give the power to appoint Judges to the Court of the Judiciary to the Governor of Alabama, previously this authority was invested in the State’s lieutenant governor.
It also allows modifies who is allowed to appoint the Director of Courts in Alabama. Currently, the chief justice holds this power. If the amendment is passed the power will be given to the Alabama Supreme Court as a whole.
This extends the amount of time that district and circuit court judges are allowed to serve to two years. Judges appointed to district and circuit courts are currently appointed to one-year terms. This would amendment would increase that by one year to two.
This amendment would allow for the Alabama legislature to refactor the state constitution and remove racist and outdate language that has been left in the State's constitution since its original ratification in 1901.
Currently, Alabama has the longest constitution in the world — 3x longer than the average state constitution and 12x longer than the United States Constitution.
This is due to various factors, but largely because unlike every other state and the U.S. Constitution, Alabama does not make a distinction between the state's constitutional and statutory laws.
The constitution also covers various county tax aspects and other regulations that are specific to individual geographic areas, which due to the length of time passed between them are often placed at widely different sections of the constitution.
The refactor would allow for the removal of outdated language and allow for the document to be consolidated into a smaller form factor.
Much of the language that legislators hope to remove relates to the state’s Jim Crow era past. Large swaths of discriminatory and racist language are still part of the document, even though they are unconstitutional and therefor unenforceable.
This is the third time since the 2004 election that such a provision has appeared on the ballot in the state.
Amendment 5 and 6
These amendments relate specifically to Franklin and Lauderdale Counties. They would add county specific “stand your ground” language to the state constitution. This changes little in how the law would be adjudicated in these areas, as Alabama is already a stand your ground state, which does not apply criminal liability to the use of deadly force when it is in self-defense, defense of another person or on the premises of a church.