2018 Election

Familiar Battles Appear on Voter’s Ballots in the Form of Proposed Constitutional Amendments

National groups, as well as local ones, are campaigning for and against two of the four amendments to the Alabama Constitution that will be voted on in the Nov. 6 general election.

The proposed Amendment 2 has pitted pro-choice against right to life advocates.

The proposed amendment says that the state recognizes and supports the sanctity of unborn children.

It was sponsored in the Alabama Legislature by Rep. Matt Fridy, R-Montevallo.

The proposed amendment says the state Constitution does not guarantee the right to an abortion or the use of public funding for abortions. It also recognizes the right of the unborn.

The state cannot outlaw abortions because the U.S. Supreme Court has established the right. But there also is a drive to have the Supreme Court overturn Roe V. Wade.

Alabama for Healthy Families has a web site (alhealthyfamilies.org)  and promoted videos in opposition to the proposed amendment.

The group blasts the proposal because it says it opposes abortion even in cases of rape, incest and danger to the life of the woman.

Other protesting groups include ourrevolution.com, the Feminist Majority Foundation, advocatesforpregnantwomen.org  and planned parenthood groups.

Proponents include the Alabama Policy Institute and lifenews.com.

Other proposed amendments up for a vote include:

Amendment 1:  If it passes, the state would allow the display of the Ten Commandments in public places, including schools, as long as the display meets “constitutional requirements,” such as being alongside historical and educational documents.

Displaying the Ten Commandments is old news in Alabama, beginning with former state Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, who was ousted for defying a federal order to remove his display of the commandments in the state judicial building. That was in 2003.

The proposed amendment also would prohibit use of public money to defend the law if it is challenged.

Several national publications, including The New York Times, have written that the push for Amendments 1 and 2 is a step toward eventually appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court with its newest member Brett Kavanaugh.

Amendment 3: This is an early strike aimed at possible state congressional redistricting following the 2020 Census. It would keep the composition of the University of Alabama board of trustees as it is if the state is redistricted. Presently, District 6 of the board (including Birmingham and Tuscaloosa) has three representatives and the other six districts have two. It would also allow removal of the state superintendent of education from the board and allow members to continue to serve past age 70.

Amendment 4: This would change the way vacancies in the Alabama Legislature are filled.

Now, under the Alabama Constitution, the governor appoints someone to a vacant legislative seat. The amendment would state that vacancies after Oct. 1 of the third year of the legislative four-year term would remain open until voters choose a new legislator.

On the back of the ballots being used Tuesday, the state has printed more details about each of the statewide amendments, including a plain language statement on the effect of the amendment if it is passed, its cost and source of funding, and the effect if the amendment is defeated. To read the details before voting Tuesday, you can visit the Fair Ballot Commission 2017-2018 Statewide Constitutional Amendments Ballot Statements.

You also can read the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama’s take on what passage or defeat of the statewide amendments would mean at the PARCA Statewide Constitutional Amendment Analysis.

Also on the ballots in Jefferson County, voters will decide on a proposed constitutional amendment that would lift the lid on property taxes in Homewood, allowing taxes to be raised.

In Shelby County, a proposed constitutional amendment would make seats on the county board of education and the superintendent of education elected positions.