Alabama’s Constitution is a document that is over 100 years old. While the most blatant racist articles in this constitution have been struck down by the US Supreme Court, it is still an institutionalized white supremacist document with its fist-ed control over minority-majority counties and cities. The attempts in the past for constitution reform have been blocked repeatedly by special interest groups and the wealthy who enjoy the power this constitution privileges them.
The Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham passed a resolution on September 16, 2010 declaring that congregation’s intention to seek constitution reform. Having this unjust document be overhauled and modernized to meet the needs of the 21st century would be continuing towards the fulfillment of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s dream of equality and justice for all. I encourage other Alabama congregations, Unitarian Universalist and others, to pass their own resolutions urging for constitution reform and then to send these resolutions to their state representatives, state senators, and to Governor Bentley. Here is the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham’s resolution on Constitution reform.
Resolution on Constitutional Reform, Endorsed by the UUCB Board
September 16, 2010
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
Whereas, as Unitarian Universalists, we envision a more caring, just, productive, and prosperous Alabama, governed under a new constitution that promotes a better life for all Alabamians, and
Whereas, the chief agenda item of the Alabama State Constitutional Convention of 1901, as articulated by John. B. Knox, in his presidential address to the convention, was, quote: “And what is it that we want to do? Why it is within the limits imposed by the Federal Constitution, to establish white supremacy in this state…But if we would have white supremacy, we must establish it by law—not by force or fraud. These provisions are justified in law and in morals, because the negro is not discriminated against on account of his race, but on account of his intellectual and moral condition. There is in the white man an inherited capacity for government, which is wholly wanting in the negro.” (Official Proceedings of the Constitutional Convention of the State of Alabama, May 21, 1901 to September 3, 1901, 1:538-42), and
Whereas, the 1901 constitution’s provisions to enshrine Alabama’s large rural land-owners and large sector operating in Alabama, and
Whereas, Alabama’s constitution is the oldest, longest, and most complex in the nation, with 827 amendments (compared to the national average of 116), with more amendments pending each year, as Alabama’s governance continues to become more complex, and
Whereas, Alabama’s state government is so restricted it cannot meet the needs of modern society, as shown by studies published jointly in 1999 and 2001 by Governing magazine and the Maxwell School of Syracuse University, ranking Alabama’s governmental performance last among the 50 states, and
Whereas, Alabama’s constitution demonstrates profound distrust of democracy and self-reliance, failing to enable counties to plan for their own economic development and growth, imposing severe restrictions on municipal home rule, disallowing use of the gas tax to support public transit, and causing half the legislative agenda to be focused on issues of strictly local interest, so that more than 70 percent of our constitutional amendments apply to a single city or county, and
Whereas, Alabama’s constitution enshrines an unfair and ineffective tax system, ranking it among the bottom three states in its unfairness to our poorest citizens (Governing magazine, Feb. 2003), forcing local governments and school boards to rely on fickle and regressive sales taxes because of constitutional restrictions on property and income taxes, and requiring nearly 90 percent of state funds to be earmarked for specific uses (higher than any other state), thereby destroying fiscal flexibility, and
Whereas, oligarchical control continues to prevail not only in Alabama’s government but also through its corporatist interlinkages with the business sector, resulting in a prime regional location for anti-union corporations, very poor educational resources, increasingly changing and dangerous climatic conditions, a deeply polluted environment, and large numbers of people being driven from the state in search of better economic opportunity and more friendly places, and
Whereas, a modern corporations in the position of oligarchical white supremacy over all aspects of governance are well documented by Wayne Flynt, Bailey Thomson, Harvey H. Jackson III, and in Melanie Jeffcoat’s film for the ACCR, entitled, Open Secret, which reenacts portions of the 1901 constitutional convention, and
Whereas, redrafting of the Alabama constitution must begin with frank recognition of the oligarchical and racist provisions of the 1901 document, in order to support mutual trust and the successful collaboration of all constitutional convention delegates in reformulating those provisions, and
Whereas, a reformed Constitution based on democracy is necessary for the proper discharge of governmental responsibilities, and for the assurance of broad social benefit generated by the business constitution for Alabama would, by contrast, establish broad principles for governmental operations without imposing restrictions on good lawmaking, recognize that local and metropolitan problems need to be solved at home and not in Montgomery, organize government into efficient branches, protect citizens rights, authorize appropriate types of taxation rather than imposing a state-wide tax code (extending to the level of motor vehicle assessments), encourage the people’s aspirations for democratic instead of oligarchical control of government and the business sector, encourage people to become well-educated, collaborative, and productive citizens, and
Whereas, past attempts at constitutional reform in Alabama have been blocked by organized special interests whose unique privileges, wealth, and political power corrupt both the democratic exercise of governmental responsibilities and the conduct of business in Alabama, and
Whereas, there is an Alabama-wide grassroots movement calling for a constitutional convention of democratically elected citizen delegates from each House legislative district, as evidenced by newspaper editorials and a statewide petition drive, signed by approximately 75,000 citizens throughout the state of Alabama, calling for such a Constitutional Convention, and
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham, through its ordained and lay leaders, members, and friends, will actively seek, educate, support, and advocate on behalf of a Citizen’s Constitutional Convention for the purpose of writing Alabama’s 7th Constitution, and
BE IT RESOLVED, IN ADDITION, that the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham will seek to enroll the other Unitarian Universalist Churches throughout the state of Alabama in support of this resolution, or similar resolutions, according to their individual preferences, and
FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED, that the Unitarian Universalist Church of Birmingham strongly urges action by the members of the State Legislature, the Governor, and other elected officials of the State of Alabama to support and pass the enabling legislation, which will be introduced in the House and Senate in the 2011 session, that will allow the people of Alabama to vote on whether they desire a Citizen’s Constitutional Convention to be called.