Alabama Amendment 2
[I]t sadly appears that some Alabama voters — actually, a majority of them — still wistfully pine for the days when blacks and white went to separate schools, rode on separate ends of the bus, and drank from separate water fountains. Amendment 2 on Tuesday’s ballot proposed cleaning up the state constitution by removing some long-unenforced segregationist provisions that mandated separate-but-equal segregated schools, authorized unconstitutional poll taxes to bar blacks from voting, and specified that Alabamians have no constitutional right to public education (giving the state the power to deny funding to any integrated schools). Governor Bob Riley (R) supported the amendment. On the other side was Riley’s likely 2006 primary opponent: ousted Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. Moore — who touts himself as “The Ten Commandments Judge” — led the opposition to the repeal, arguing it could open the door to tax hikes in order to improve the state’s public school system. The Alabama Christian Coalition also opposed the amendment, explaining that the group wanted “to ensure that reckless trial lawyers and activist judges will not be able to open the floodgates to increase taxes and that private, Christian, parochial and home-school families will be protected.” The “tax hike” argument appears to be a red herring, however, as the Alabama Supreme Court already ruled in 1993 that the “no constitutional right to public education” provision was unconstitution under the US Constitution. Out of 1.4 million votes cast statewide, Amendment 2 appears to have lost by 2,500 votes. However, the state will conduct an automatic recount.
Kristopher Vilamaa is saddened by the outcome as well.
A few prominent Republicans, including Roy Moore and John Giles, were able to convince over half the voters in Alabama that a provision to remove racist language that had already been ruled unconstitutional and moot was going to somehow affect their taxes.
I’ve spent a lot of time in Alabama, graduating high school and getting three degrees there. I didn’t follow this one at all but find the taxes argument compelling as an explanation for what happened here. Alabamians, more so than even other Americans, are deathly afraid of taxes. Also, many people (myself included when I lived there) reflexively vote against all amendments to the state’s horribly outdated Constitution as a protest vote, hoping to force a new convention.
Riley pretty much expended his political capital when he tried to ram through a massive tax reform proposal–out of the blue, having not mentioned it in his 2002 campaign for office–last year. Moore, sadly, remains wildly popular for his shameless pandering on the 10 Commandments issue.