The Alabama State Constitution

The Alabama State Constitution

The Alabama State Constitution

The Alabama State Constitution

Synopsis

The Alabama State Constitution provides extensive analysis on American's longest state constitution, with an emphasis on the impact of recent court decisions declaring several of its most recently adopted provisions as in conflict with the U.S. Constitution and thus invalid. Since entering the Union in 1819, Alabama has had six constitutions. While the original constitution was regarded as one of the most progressive in the nation, its current constitution, adopted in 1901, is one of the most restrictive, especially from the perspective of the limits it imposes on local governments. The second edition updates and expands the previous edition, providing new analysis, with citations to court decisions and relevant scholarly commentary. This edition provides important accompanying explanations on newly added provisions including gay marriage, immigration, environmental protection, energy, and taxation and the court decisions interpreting them. The Oxford Commentaries on the State Constitutions of the United States is an important series that reflects a renewed international interest in constitutional history and provides expert insight into each of the 50 state constitutions. Each volume in this innovative series contains a historical overview of the state's constitutional development, a section-by-section analysis of its current constitution, and a comprehensive guide to further research. Under the expert editorship of Professor G. Alan Tarr, Director of the Center on State Constitutional Studies at Rutgers University, this series provides essential reference tools for understanding state constitutional law. Books in the series can be purchased individually or as part of a completeset, giving readers unmatched access to these important political documents.

Excerpt

In 1776, following the declaration of independence from England, the former colonies began to draft their own constitutions. Their handiwork attracted widespread interest, and draft constitutions circulated up and down the Atlantic seaboard, as constitution-makers sought to benefit from the insights of their counterparts in sister states. in Europe, the new constitutions found a ready audience seeking enlightenment from the American experiments in self-government. Even the delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, despite their reservations about the course of political developments in the states during the decade after independence, found much that was useful in the newly adopted constitutions. and when James Madison, fulfilling a pledge given during the ratification debates, drafted the federal Bill of Rights, he found his model in the famous Declaration of Rights of the Virginia Constitution.

By the 1900s, however, few people would have looked to state constitutions for enlightenment. Instead, a familiar litany of complaints was heard whenever state constitutions were mentioned. State constitutions were too long and too detailed, combining basic principles with policy prescriptions and prohibitions that had no place in the fundamental law of a state. By including such provisions, it was argued, state constitutions deprived state governments of the flexibility they needed to respond effectively in changing circumstances. This—among other factors—encouraged political reformers to look to the federal government, which was not plagued by such constitutional constraints, thereby shifting the locus of political initiative away from the states. Meanwhile, civil libertarians concluded that state bills of rights, at least as interpreted by state courts, did not adequately protect rights and therefore looked to the federal courts and the federal Bill of Rights for redress. As power and responsibility shifted from the states to Washington, so too did the attention of scholars, the legal community, and the general public.

During the early 1970s, however, state constitutions were “rediscovered.” the immediate impetus for this rediscovery was former President Richard Nixon’s appointment of Warren Burger to succeed Earl Warren as Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. To civil libertarians, this appointment seemed to signal a decisive shift in the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence, because Burger was expected to lead the Court away from the liberal activism that had characterized the Warren Court. They therefore sought ways to safeguard the gains they had achieved for defendants, racial minorities, and the poor during Warren’s tenure from erosion by the Burger Court. in particular, they began to look to state bills . . .

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