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“Protecting Conservative Principles”: Alabama Blocks Local Control On Minimum Wage

It’s been nearly two years since Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) announced that her state would not only ignore calls for a higher minimum wage, but also that the state law would block any effort by local Oklahoma communities to raise wages at the municipal level. In other words, if a city in Oklahoma wanted a higher minimum, the state would effectively declare, “Too bad.”

Last year, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) made the same move, prohibiting local control over minimum-wage increases. And last week, MSNBC’s Zack Roth reported on the identical circumstances playing out the same way in Alabama.

Birmingham, Alabama, raised the city’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour on Tuesday. Two days later, the state took it away.

Alabama passed a bill Thursday, largely along party lines, that bars cities and counties from raising the minimum wage or requiring employers to provide leave or other benefits. Because the law applies retroactively, it wipes out Birmingham’s raise.

Republican legislative leaders fast-tracked the bill in order to pass it before Birmingham’s raise was set to take effect March 1. The GOP enjoys super-majorities in both houses. Within an hour or so of the bill’s passage, Gov. Robert Bentley (R) announced he had signed it.

It’s amazing how quickly Republican policymakers can move when they feel strongly about an issue. In this case, their zeal applied to blocking a city that wanted to raise its own minimum wage.

The L.A. Times reported that there are now 17 states that prohibit their own cities from raising a local minimum wage – because if there’s one thing the right believes in as a bedrock principle of their entire ideology, it’s the importance of local control, except when Republicans decide they actually believe the exact opposite.

As we discussed the last time this came up, contemporary conservatism generally celebrates the idea that the government that’s closest to the people – literally, geographically – is best able to respond to the public’s needs.

But when communities consider progressive measures Republicans don’t like, those principles are quickly thrown out the window.

So, let this be a lesson to everyone: when officials in Washington tell states what to do, it’s an outrageous abuse and clear evidence of government overreach. When states tell cities what to do, it’s protecting conservative principles.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 29, 2016

March 1, 2016 Posted by | Conservatism, Conservatives, Minimum Wage, State and Local Governments | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Locked Doors And Shuttered Windows”: About Those Judges Joining Roy Moore In His Rebel Yell

Nobody familiar with Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore was the least bit surprised by his defiance of both federal district court and U.S. Supreme Court directives that Alabama begin licensing same-sex marriages. The man’s made an entire career out of such gestures, based not only on early nineteenth-century notions of state’s rights and even older (yet evergreen) theocratic principles.

But it might be more surprising that a majority of probate judges in Alabama are at least temporarily going along with Moore’s rebel yell, either refusing to license applicants for same-sex marriages or even closing their doors yesterday, per a report from WaPo’s Sandhya Somashekhar:

On the day that same-sex unions became legal in Alabama, local officials in dozens of counties on Monday defied a federal judge’s decision and refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, casting the state into judicial chaos.

Gay couples were able to get licenses in about a dozen places, including Birmingham, Huntsville and a few other counties where probate judges complied with the judge’s decision. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled early Monday that it would deny Alabama’s request to put the marriages on hold.

But in the majority of counties, officials said they would refuse to license same-sex marriages or stop providing licenses altogether, confronting couples — gay and heterosexual — with locked doors and shuttered windows.

What’s up with these probate judges? Are their law school professors hanging their heads in shame at this rather blatant defiance of the Supremacy Clause?

Well, that’s hard to say because Alabama does not require probate judges to have any sort of legal education (that’s true in my home state of Georgia as well). It’s also one of thirteen states where probate judges are elected in partisan primaries and general elections. I cannot find a current breakdown of the partisan composition of Alabama’s probate judiciary, but given the overall political complexion of the state it’s a good bet a majority are Republicans. With the state’s Republican governor and most famous Republican jurist calling for defiance of the feds (though Gov. Robert Bentley has made it clear he won’t punish any judge that differs with him on this), what would you guess they’d do? Yeah, that’s what I thought, too.

 

By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Political Animal, The Washington Monthly, February 10, 2015

February 11, 2015 Posted by | Alabama Supreme Court, Marriage Equality, Roy Moore | , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Jurisdiction-Stripping”: Roy “Ten Commandments” Moore Is Back With His Constitution-Defying Tricks

Roy Moore, Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, best known for his flouting of the Establishment Clause for refusing, in 2003, to remove a 2.6 ton Ten Commandments monument from the Supreme Court building, is now questioning the jurisdiction of federal courts to decide the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.

After Moore was removed from the bench in that same year, he ran for governor several times and flirted with running for president. He won reelection to the Alabama high court in 2012.

Writing to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley today, Moore complains that last week’s federal court ruling striking down Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage “has raised serious, legitimate concerns about the propriety of federal court jurisdiction over the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.” In the letter, Moore warns that local clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples will be “in defiance of the laws and Constitution of Alabama.”

Moore is attempting to argue for jurisdiction-stripping, a maneuver to deprive a federal court (despite what is required in the Constitution itself) of the ability to decide questions of federal Constitutional law. Moore, of course, cannot do this unilaterally; like his Ten Commandments stunt, he would be in defiance of the federal Constitution with his antics. All his efforts, and all his appeals to religion, can’t change the simple fact that under the Constitution, federal courts, not state courts, decide matters of federal constitutional law.

But Moore believes the Bible trumps the Constitution (or at least his version of the Bible). As Julie Ingersoll has observed, “Moore’s underlying philosophy of law is that only God and the Bible can be the source of moral authority.”

This wouldn’t be the first time that Moore has attempted (utterly unsuccessfully, I might add) to shut down a federal court’s constitutionally-granted jurisdiction and authority over constitutional matters, as I noted in 2011:

After Moore was stripped of his judgeship for defying a federal court order to remove his monument, [his lawyer, Herb] Titus drafted the Constitution Restoration Act, which would have deprived federal courts of jurisdiction in cases challenging a government entity’s or official’s “acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.” The bill, which did not pass, nonetheless had nine Senate co-sponsors and 50 House co-sponsors; including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Bobby Jindal, now the governor of Louisiana, Nathan Deal, now the governor of Georgia, and Mike Pence, a conservative hero who’s now running for governor of Indiana.

Moore argues in his letter to Bentley today that “The laws of this state have always recognized the Biblical admonition stated by our Lord,” citing Mark 10:6-9 (“But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. . . What therefore God hath joined together let not man put asunder.”)

When others, like Mike Huckabee, speak loosely of the Supreme Court lacking the authority to decide whether same-sex marriage bans violate the Constitution, it stems from the ideology of Moore and his ilk: that despite what the Constitution says, the Bible comes first. Something tells me, though, Moore’s new stunt won’t fare much better than his last.

 

By: Sarah Posner, Religion Dispatches, January 27, 2015

February 1, 2015 Posted by | Marriage Equality, Roy Moore, U. S. Constitution | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Conservative GOP Governors Are Accepting Obamacare”: Wagging A Finger With One Hand, Holding Out The Other Hand For The Money

Many GOP governors who loudly condemned Obamacare are secretly signing up for the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid Expansion. And they aren’t just Republicans in Democrat states. A growing number are from Southern conservative states, like Alabama and Tennessee.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam announced his state would oppose Obamacare, saying that he would rather have any money sent to his state go to private insurance, according to Bill Barrow with the Associated Press. But after getting reelected, Haslam announced that he had struck a deal that would allow that Medicaid expansion, according to Dave Boucher with The Tennessean.

Ditto Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, who once claimed that “the anything but Affordable Care Act has done nothing to gain our trust,” according to Tom Baxter with Saporta Report. But there was Bentley, after getting easily reelected, claiming “he could support the expansion in the form of a block grant, with a lot of strings attached,” Baxter writes.

In other red states, Republicans are doing the same, wagging a finger at Obamacare with one hand and holding out the other hand for the money. Kansas Governor Sam Brownback condemned GOP Governors for taking the Medicaid expansion money, as noted on his own website. But then, buffeted by a deficit from ill-advised tax cuts, Brownback took the money, calling it something else, in order to balance the budget, according to Salon.

It is unlikely that Representative Mike Pence cast many votes in favor of Obamacare while in Congress. But as Indiana Governor, he’s signed on to the Medicaid expansion, according to Dana Milbank from the Washington Post.

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer joined her name to the lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare. But then, she signed up for the dollars from Washington, DC after dodging a primary challenge, as reported by CBS.

Florida Governor Rick Scott, another Republican, had few kind words for Obama or the ACA. But once it was clear that he wouldn’t face a primary challenger, Scott took the money, according to the Miami Herald, hoping to boost his reelection chances. He was able to hold onto the Governor’s Mansion in Tallahassee as a result.

And it was Ohio Governor John Kasich who called for repealing Obamacare, well, at least most of it. Now he’s saying it is here to stay, as noted by CNN, and other Republicans better get used to it being around.

Michael Hiltzik with the Los Angeles Times is reporting that even Texas is considering the Medicaid expansion, modeled after Utah’s acceptance of the ACA plan.

There are a few reasons for this. While the House of Representatives and Senate can pass repeal after repeal votes, governors have to balance budgets. Also, many of these governors talk the conservative talk to beat back or forestall Tea Party primary challengers. Given that only a dwindling number of these are succeeding, there’s no need to kowtow to this group after reelection. They can use some creative accounting to accept the money, or call it something else so it will have a lower profile (Alabama could call it Bamacare, for example).

Of course, this is bound to infuriate the most conservative members of the Republican Party, but only if they are paying attention. Besides, this is still the party of Jeb Bush, who was linked to a firm that benefited from Obamacare, as reported by The Daily Mail. It’s also the party of Mitt Romney, whose Romneycare had many similarities to Obamacare, according to health expert Brad Burd.

 

By: John A. Tures, Professor of Political Science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga; The Blog, The Huffington Post, December 31, 2014

January 2, 2015 Posted by | Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, Republican Governors | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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