I get a lot of questions about the amendments to the Alabama Constitution to be voted on in November. Some of those amendments relate to a particular county and really don’t concern people outside of those particular counties. I am generally in favor of those amendments.
I really like the amendment that will reorder the Alabama Constitution sequentially and organize the Alabama Constitution in a logical way.
I really can’t express my dislike of the first amendment that appears on the ballot. This proposes to take away the right to bail for people accused of certain crimes. It’s dumb. It’s unconstitutional. It’s a waste of time for a whole lot of people who will have to deal with the consequences of this amendment just to see that it won’t work. We pay those people who have to strike this amendment down later and it’s just a waste of money.
Certainly, many politicians run on being “tough on crime”. Maybe that’s why the United States has more people in prison than any other country on earth. Even China and Russia. That being said, it’s not my job to reform the system and I don’t know where I would start. It is my job to give my opinion on the constitutionality of the law when asked.
This is a really nice teaching point. Think of the game “rock, paper, and scissors”. The United States Constitution can not be amended or contradicted by a state constitution. A citizen’s constitutional right under United Constitution can’t be taken away by a state constitution. The 8th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says that “excessive bail shall not be required”. The 14th Amendment says, “nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”.
Putting somebody in jail without a trial just because they’re accused of a crime deprives them of due process required by the United States Constitution. Remember the presumption of innocence?
It might seem like a good idea to preventatively detain someone without a trial but as one of our foremost constitutional law senators said, “if you give up freedom for safety, you won’t have safety or freedom for very long”.
It’s not for nothing that on the day I write this, October 27, 2022, is the 235th anniversary of the date the first publication of the Federalists Papers which argued and explained our proposed constitution in all of its wisdom and majesty in the newspapers of the day.
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