Posts Tagged “alabama”

SCOTUS Marriage Equality 2015 (Obergefell v. Hodges) - 26 June 2015Most of my readers will have heard of Roy Moore, the erstwhile “Ten Commandments Judge.” He’d been the Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court, who refused to obey a federal court order to remove a Decalogue monument from that state’s Supreme Court building, and was removed from office in 2003 due to his defiance (WebCite cached article). Since then, he’s remained just as petulant and defiant; he ran for the same office again in 2012 and was elected by the dutiful Christofascist folk of Alabama.

In his second stint as Chief Justice, it wasn’t the Ten Commandments that caused much trouble; rather, it was gay marriage and the Obergefell v. Hodges decision issued by the US Supreme Court last year. Like most of America’s Christofascists, Moore didn’t take this decision well. He tried to use his office to prevent gay marriages, ordering his state’s probate judges not to marry gay couples, on the grounds that they’re illegal under Alabama law. (Despite having been a judge for a long time, Moore apparently had never heard of the supremacy clause, by which federal law has primacy over state law.)

So earlier this year, Moore was disciplined for overplaying his hand, and as the Birmingham (AL) News reports, after months of wrangling, Moore was suspended from the state Supreme Court (cached):

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has been suspended from the bench for telling probate judges to defy federal orders regarding gay marriage.

It’s the second time Moore has been removed from the chief justice job for defiance of federal courts – the first time in 2003 for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building.

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary (COJ) issued the order Friday suspending Moore from the bench for the remainder of his term after an unanimous vote of the nine-member court.

The COJ saw right through the bullshit that Moore and his lawyer, Mat Staver (of Kim Davis fame) spewed during the discipline process:

In its 50-page order on Friday, the COJ stated it did not find credible Moore’s claim that the purpose for the Jan. 6 order was “merely to provide a ‘status update’ to the state’s probate judges.”

“We likewise do not accept Chief Justice Moore’s repeated argument that the disclaimer in paragraph 10 of the January 6, 2016, order — in which Chief Justice Moore asserted he was ‘not at liberty to provide any guidance … of the effect of Obergefell on the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court’ — negated the reality that Chief Justice More was in fact ‘ordering and directing’ the probate judges to comply with the API orders regardless of Obergefell or the injunction in Strawser (federal case in Alabama).”

The COJ also did something very clever: They suspended Moore rather than removing him from office. While this might seem a milder punishment, it has an interesting ramification: As the article explains, it means Gov Bentley (also a committed Christofascist) can’t appoint a replacement for Moore on the Supreme Court. His position on the Court is essentially “dead,” with an acting Chief Justice drawn from the remaining justices. It’s all very clever. I guess the COJ learned a little from their previous bout with Moore, 13 years ago.

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Embers 01I suppose this is one of those stories that could only have come from a militantly religionist state like Alabama, where fundamentalist Christianity reigns supreme. As AL.Com reports, an agency of “the Yellowhammer State” recently invoked the Lord as the reason Alabamans must defy federal environmental regulations (WebCite cached article):

Alabama’s coal industry will lose jobs and consumers will see their utility bills increase should the EPA implement proposed regulations on coal-fired power plants, Alabama regulators said at a press conference in which they invoked the name of God in the fight over fossil fuels.

Two members of the Alabama Public Service Commission, a member-elect and an Alabama representative to the Republican National Committee said proposed EPA regulations that aim to reduce power plant carbon emissions by 30 percent represent “an assault on our way of life” and are a purposeful attempt by the Obama administration to kill coal-related jobs.

“We will not stand for what they are doing to our way of life in Alabama,” said PSC President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh. “We will take our fight to the EPA.”

These officials laid out their rationale for defying the Feds rather plainly:

At their news conference today Cavanaugh and PSC commissioner-elect Chip Beeker invoked the name of God in stating their opposition to the EPA proposal. Beeker, a Republican who is running unopposed for a PSC seat, said coal was created in Alabama by God, and the federal government should not enact policy that runs counter to God’s plan.

“Who has the right to take what God’s given a state?” he said.

Cavanaugh called on the people of the state to ask for God’s intervention.

“I hope all the citizens of Alabama will be in prayer that the right thing will be done,” she said.

The upshot of this, as far as I can see, goes something like this: “The Lord gave us coal; his plan is for us to burn it; therefore we must burn it all; and it’s profane for the Feds to tell us we can’t.” Or something like that. And Alabamans are being ordered to pray doom down on the EPA. Or something like that. (Their call for imprecatory prayer reminds me of all the “pray for Obama Psalm 109” talk that went around a few years ago. How fucking mature.)

Alabamans largely won’t see this kind of idiocy for what it is, and I’m guessing they actually like hearing this sort of talk from state officials. They must … because otherwise they wouldn’t allow these people to run their state. All the more reason for me never to set foot there!

Hat tip: RationalWiki.

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Ten Commandments, BaldockThe Religious Right has long waged a fierce, active campaign to get Ten Commandments idols in or around courthouses, public schools, town halls, public parks, etc. They’re obsessed with it, for some reason, viewing Decalogue monuments has having some kind of magical power to make their communities better places. About the only power they have is to provide emotional reassurance in the face of the personal insecurity inherent in clinging to a package of metaphysical beliefs that have no demonstrable basis. Beyond that, Decalogue idols accomplish nothing whatsoever … aside maybe from making it clear to any and all non-Abrahamic believers that they’re neither wanted nor welcome.

The latest battle in militant Christianists’ ongoing war to get Decalogue monuments put up everywhere comes from the home state of Judge Roy “Ten Commandments” Moore, as reported by the Montgomery Advertiser (WebCite cached article):

The House Judiciary Committee passed a constitutional amendment without discussion or debate that would allow the Ten Commandments to be posted in public buildings and schools.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Duwayne Bridges, R-Valley, stipulates that the commandments could be displayed unabridged or unrestrained on public property as long as it’s in compliance with constitutional requirements.

Text of HB 45 can be obtained here (cached).

The ACLU doesn’t understand the need for this law, but that doesn’t faze R.R. activists, who insist it’s necessary as a proactive measure against imagined persecutory “judicial activism”:

Joe Godfrey, executive director of the Alabama Citizens Action Program, said the reason for the bill is that courts, over and over again, are ruling that you can’t display the Ten Commandments. He said they’re the foundation to the laws of our nation and society and should be allowed to be on display.

There are lots of problems with this Christofascist movement to put up as many Decalogue monuments in as many government facilities as possible. Because this is ongoing Religious Right campaign, I created a static page on this blog that describes the many different problems with it. In brief, it’s unconstitutional; all such displays are by nature sectarian; they’re clear violations of the Abrahamic religions’ injunctions against idolatry (included within the Ten Commandments themselves); they’re also forms of public piety which Jesus clearly forbid to all his followers; and because Christians building them violates the very religion they claim to believe in, doing so is a kind of hypocrisy, which Jesus also explicitly forbid them ever to engage in. As such, this is actually an un-Christian effort.

Note, too, that Christians demanding that Decalogue idols be put up all over the place, is itself a kind of activism, whereas they intend this law to block judicial activism they disapprove of. In other words, they’re happy to engage in their own form of activism but condemn all other forms of activism. Hypocrisy, thy name is “Christianist”!

Photo credit: TheRevSteve, via Flickr.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

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10 Commandments House near Supreme CourtIt looks as though the people of the Bible-thumping state of Alabama are poised to return to office someone who’d been run out, when he chose to defy a federal court order. CNN’s Belief Blog reports that Roy Moore won the GOP primary for Chief Justice in that state (WebCite cached article):

Roy Moore, the former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice made famous by a Ten Commandments monument, is one step closer to getting his old job back. Moore won 50.14% of the vote on Tuesday in the Republican primary for the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. …

Moore held the job of Chief Justice from 2001 to 2003 but was forced out when he defied a federal order to remove a 2.6 ton stone monument of the Ten Commandments he had placed at the courthouse.

As one would expect of a ferocious Christofascist, Moore hasn’t changed his mind about what he did:

Today, Moore maintains the monument’s placement was constitutionally appropriate. “There’s nothing in the first amendment that prohibits the display of religious objects,” he said.

Even so, Moore doesn’t plan to return his Decalogue idol to Alabama’s Supreme Court:

“I don’t have any intention of bringing the monument because that will confuse the issue,” he said. At issue for him is the acknowledgement of God and he added, “I will continue to acknowledge the sovereignty of God.”

If Moore does get back into office, expect more Decalogue idolatry to crop up around the country, as fervent evangelical Christians everywhere will feel empowered to defy the Constitution and federal law on the matter.

Photo credit: dcdailyphotos, via Flickr.

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New Yorker cartoon cover w/ObamasHere’s yet another news item of the “water is wet” variety. As the Los Angeles Times reports, Republicans in the deep south remain convinced President Barack Obama is a Muslim (WebCite cached article):

After years of battling false claims and viral emails alleging that he is a Muslim, President Obama hasn’t gotten far among Republican voters in Alabama and Mississippi – about half still believe he is Muslim and about 1 in 4 believes his parents’ interracial marriage should have been illegal, a new poll shows. …

The poll of Mississippi Republicans found that 52% said they believed Obama is a Muslim, 36% weren’t sure and only 12% said they believed he is a Christian. He fared slightly better in Alabama, where 45% said he is a Muslim, 41% weren’t sure, and 14% said he is a Christian.

Recalling his childhood, Obama has said his family did not go to church every week, but said his faith grew as he got older and that his Christian beliefs have guided his career in public service.

People retain this irrational belief — in spite of the fact that both Obama himself, and politicians of both parties, have all said that he’s a Christian — because of something known as the “backfire effect.” This is a psychological phenomenon in which people retain untrue notions despite having their falsehood demonstrated, and in fact, they become even more intractably attached to the incorrect belief. I’ve blogged on this effect before. None of the researchers who’ve noted this phenomenon have offered any explanation for how it happens. My guess is, it results from the emotional attachment people have to their irrational beliefs; when faced with compelling evidence they’re false, they simply retrench and continue to tell themselves it’s true, because they can’t handle the emotional pain that would follow from letting go of the (false) belief. They really and truly prefer to lie to themselves, and others, rather than just admit they were wrong.

It’s like when a child plugs his ears, clamps his or her eyes shut, and yammers, so that s/he doesn’t have to hear something s/he’d rather not have to hear. In other words … it’s childish. Yes, folks, this means the Republican party in the deep south is populated mainly by little children who need to fucking grow the hell up for once and get over it already.

As for the legality of interracial marriage, that was established decades ago, by the US Supreme Court, in its decision in Loving v. Virginia (1967). I suppose people can believe anything they want to about it, including that it should be illegal, but it is legal nevertheless and it will remain legal indefinitely, in spite of their belief. Mature adults would just accept that fact and move on with their lives … but the GOP in the deep south is far too juvenile to do that, apparently.

Hat tip: Lordrag at Pulling to the Left on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: New Yorker cover courtesy of scriptingnews, via Flickr.

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Get Out of Jail FreeDeep in the heart of the Bobble Bay-elt (also known as “the Bible Belt”), in the town of Bay Minette, Alabama, the local sheriff has come up with a clever way to increase church attendance and incentivize crime by churchgoers. The Mobile Press-Register reports that people convicted of non-violent crimes can go to church instead of to jail (WebCite cached article):

A new alternative sentencing program offering first-time, nonviolent offenders a choice of a year of church attendance or jail time and fines is drawing fire from the American Civil Liberties Union as well as national attention, officials said Friday. …

But the local police chief who is heading up the program starting Tuesday called “Restore Our Community” says no one is being forced to participate.

Forced? No. But what it means is that any regular churchgoers effectively won’t be punished at all. It’s also inherently selective, since those who don’t belong to a church cannot choose to participate in this program. This policy’s proponent explains his motivation:

“Operation ROC resulted from meetings with church leaders,” Bay Minette Police Chief Mike Rowland said.

Of course the local preachermen like this idea, it will get more people through their doors and more collections in their plates! They stand to profit from this. The religiofascist continues idiotically:

“It was agreed by all the pastors that at the core of the crime problem was the erosion of family values and morals. We have children raising children and parents not instilling values in young people.”

Ah. I see. So there was no crime, way back when everyone was a devout, dutiful, church-going Christian. Is that it? Christians don’t commit crimes. Is that it?

Do you truly expect that we’re stupid enough to believe this, Chief Rowland? Especially since it’s demonstrably untrue that being Christian means one never commits crimes? Lots of Christians — including some who are famous because they’re Christian — are indeed criminals. I need only mention names such as Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and Ted Haggard … just to name a few … in order to show this is the case.

Religiofascists like Chief Rowland love to assert that churchgoing Christians don’t commit crimes, but they absolutely do. Crimes like embezzlement, fraud, buying the services of prostitutes, taking illegal drugs, and much more. The truth is that America’s prisons contain many, many Christians. It’s absurd and laughable that anyone could say otherwise … yet Chief Rowland does. And he means it.

Hat tip: Friendly Atheist.

Photo credit: swanksalot.

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Across the US, more and more prosecutions are being brought against women who lose their babies. Photograph: Alamy / The GuardianAmong the Right’s many mantras is a steady drone of whining about what they call “judicial activism” and the related “legal activism.” This is their term for when a judge issues a ruling, or a lawsuit is filed, with which they subjectively disagree. They’re essentially accusing the judges and/or lawyers of basing their decisions and actions not on the facts of the cases or on the law, but on their own personal beliefs. They just can’t abide the idea that, sometimes, their own beliefs aren’t borne out by circumstance or the law.

Even so, the Right — particularly the Religious Right — is nonetheless guilty of its own forms of legal activism. The (UK) Guardian reports on one of these, the practice of prosecuting women who’ve lost their babies (WebCite cached article):

[Rennie] Gibbs [of Mississippi] became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby’s death — they charged her with the “depraved-heart murder” of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence.

Before you assume this is just an an isolated case, read on and find out about more of them:

Bei Bei Shuai, 34, has spent the past three months in a prison cell in Indianapolis charged with murdering her baby. On 23 December she tried to commit suicide by taking rat poison after her boyfriend abandoned her.

Shuai was rushed to hospital and survived, but she was 33 weeks pregnant and her baby, to whom she gave birth a week after the suicide attempt and whom she called Angel, died after four days. In March Shuai was charged with murder and attempted foeticide and she has been in custody since without the offer of bail.

In Alabama at least 40 cases have been brought under the state’s “chemical endangerment” law. Introduced in 2006, the statute was designed to protect children whose parents were cooking methamphetamine in the home and thus putting their children at risk from inhaling the fumes.

The militant Rightist prosecutors have used laws against women, which ostensibly had been intended to help them:

At least 38 of the 50 states across America have introduced foetal homicide laws that were intended to protect pregnant women and their unborn children from violent attacks by third parties — usually abusive male partners — but are increasingly being turned by renegade prosecutors against the women themselves.

South Carolina was one of the first states to introduce such a foetal homicide law. National Advocates for Pregnant Women has found only one case of a South Carolina man who assaulted a pregnant woman having been charged under its terms, and his conviction was eventually overturned. Yet the group estimates there have been up to 300 women arrested for their actions during pregnancy.

Using laws for a purpose other than their stated intention, in order to bring retribution against people for doing things that prosecutors personally disapprove of, is the very same kind of legal activism the Right sees in the Left and kvetches about. Those Rightists who engage in this practice, therefore, are hypocrites of the highest order. Those among them who are Christian — and I assume all of them are — are directly disobeying the clear and unambiguous instructions of the founder of their religion.

Photo credit: Alamy / The Guardian.

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