Making Up The Rules As You Go Along

Anyone who visits this site regularly knows that the Alabama Accountability Act was ruled unconstitutional by a Montgomery circuit court in 2014, then appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court where it was ruled to not be unconstitutional earlier this year.

Or was it?

One of the chief arguments by the plaintiffs in the case was that according to legislative rules a conference committee could not go into conference with one bill and come out with one that is substantially different, as was the case with AAA.

So the chief issue before the supreme court was, “Can anyone tell the legislature how to behave?”

And as Brian Hodge, News Editor of the Millbrook Independent, explains in this editorial, apparently our legislative leaders are under no constraints to follow their own rules because no one can set their rules except themselves.

Here is what Brain says about the accountability act issue:

In 2013 in order to pass the Alabama Accountability Act out of the Senate Education Committee, the Republicans on the committee added 21 pages to the bill after meeting in secret, and fundamentally changed the bill’s purpose. The committee reconvened and passed the bill with a Republican majority. As expected the Democrats sued and the case went all the way to the Alabama Supreme Court. The State’s high court admitted that the secret meeting violated the law, and that the law applies to the Alabama Legislature. But favoring legal doublespeak over common sense the court found that the legislature’s violation was not justiciable, in other words the judges were not able to judge.

The court found: Because the Alabama Constitution gives the legislature the authority to establish its own rules and because the Open Meetings Act must yield to the Alabama Constitution, the legislature’s alleged violation of the Open Meetings Act or Rule 21 in this case is not justiciable. It is not the function of the judiciary to require the legislature to follow its own rules

And once again the average citizen is left shaking their head

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