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            Here are 6 statewide constitutional amendments on the ballot and what they mean to you

            Alabama Constitution

            Alabama's 1901 Constitution.

            Alabama voters will see six statewide constitutional amendments when they fill out their absentee ballots to vote early or go to the polls on Nov. 3.

            The Legislature passed bills to put the amendments on the ballot, but they won’t become part of the Alabama Constitution unless voters say so.

            Here’s a look at the amendments and what they would do. (To see the wording of the amendments as they will appear on their ballot, scroll to the bottom of the article.

            Amendment 1 says that “only” citizens of the United States have a right to vote in Alabama, providing they meet other legal requirements, such as being at least 18.

            Amendment 1 would change Article VIII of the state constitution, which says “every” citizen of the United States has a right to vote, providing they meet the other legal requirements, changing that to say “only” citizens have the right.

            Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, R-Anniston, sponsored the legislation for Amendment 1. It passed the House and Senate without a negative vote.

            What does it do? Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill said state law already prohibits non-citizens from voting.

            Merrill said he was not aware of any practical difference the amendment would make. He said there is a national campaign for states to add more restrictive language on voter qualifications.

            Amendment 2 would make changes affecting the state court system.

            Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, sponsored the bill putting Amendment 2 on the ballot. It passed the Senate by a vote of 28-0 and the House by a vote of 92-6.

            Some of the changes in Amendment 2 follow recommendations from a committee of the Alabama Law Institute.

            One change would make the director of the Administrative Office of Courts an appointee of the nine justices on the Alabama Supreme Court, rather than an appointee of the chief justice.

            Orr said that would bring more stability to an important statewide position. Chief justices serve six-year terms but there has been turnover more frequently than that since 2000. Roy Moore was effectively removed from office twice and Sue Bell Cobb resigned. A report from the Alabama Law Institute said there have been 11 separate tenures in the director’s office over the last 30 years and six over the last 15.

            Orr said it is vital to have directors who are familiar with the court system and with the Legislature, which approves the court system’s annual budget.

            “It is a very complex organization and entity and obviously a branch of government, one of the three branches,” Orr said.

            If the amendment is approved, a majority of the nine justices would pick the director from three nominees submitted by a committee that includes judges, a circuit clerk, and a member of the state board of bar commissioners. The director would be appointed to a 10-year term but could be removed by a majority of justices.

            David Kimberley, acting deputy director of the Alabama Law Institute, says the use of a nominating committee should help identify candidates with appropriate qualifications.

            Other key changes made by Amendment 2:

            Expands membership of the Judicial Inquiry Commission from nine to 11 members by adding one probate judge and one municipal judge. The JIC is the entity that investigates allegations of misconduct by judges. Kimberley said the JIC hears cases involving probate and municipal judges so it was fitting to add representatives of those courts to the JIC.

            Ends automatic suspensions of judges after a complaint is forwarded by the JIC. Complaints from the JIC go to the Court of the Judiciary, which makes the determination on whether to remove a judge from office or impose another sanction. Under current law, judges are automatically suspended with pay when the JIC forwards a complaint. Under Amendment 2, suspensions would be determined on a case-by-case basis depending on the nature and seriousness of the complaint.

            Repeals the authority for the Legislature to impeach judges. The JIC and the Court of the Judiciary serve that purpose.

            Amendment 3 would change the time that judges appointed to fill a vacancy in circuit court or district court serve before having to stand for election in some cases. The governor appoints judges to fill those vacancies.

            Under current law, appointed district court and circuit judges must stand for election at the next general election at least one year after their appointment. Amendment 3 would say that appointees must stand for election at the next general election at least two years after their appointment.

            (The amendment does not apply to appointed probate judges, who complete the six-year term of the judge who vacated the office.)

            Rep. David Faulkner sponsored the bill to put Amendment 3 on the ballot. It passed the House 97-0 and passed the Senate 27-4 last year.

            Faulkner said appointed judges face election a short time after accepting appointments under current law, considering they have to qualify and run in party primaries well before the general election. In presidential election years, party primaries are now in early March.

            Faulkner, who is a lawyer, said that makes it a difficult choice for attorneys who have to stop their law practice to accept an appointment. He said that could keep some qualified lawyers from accepting appointments.

            Faulkner said the amendment would have no effect on appointments made during the final two years of a six-year term. Case law in Alabama says the term of a vacated judgeship cannot be extended, he said. So judges who accept appointments in the final two years of a term still would have to stand for election at the end of the six-year term.

            Amendment 4 would start a process intended to remove outdated and nullified racist sections of the constitution, such as one requiring segregated schools, and recompile the constitution in a more logical order.

            If voters approve Amendment 4, the director of the Legislative Services Agency would prepare a recompiled constitution and submit it to the Legislature in 2022. If the Legislature approves it, it would go on the ballot for voters to have the final say.

            Changes would be limited to four categories:

            • Remove all racist language
            • Delete duplicative and repealed provisions
            • Consolidate provisions regarding economic development
            • Arrange all local amendments by county of application

            The bill for Amendment 4 was sponsored by Rep. Merika Coleman, D-Pleasant Grove, and is backed by Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform, a nonprofit group that has advocated for reforms since 2000. It passed the House 101-0 and the Senate 30-0.

            Amendment 5 and Amendment 6 are the same except that they apply to different counties. Amendment 5 applies to only Franklin County. Amendment 6 applies to only Lauderdale County.

            The amendments concern Alabama’s self-defense law, sometimes called the “stand your ground" law.

            The law says that people who use force, including deadly force, in defense of themselves or others can be exempted from prosecution if they can show in court by a preponderance of evidence that they were justified in using force.

            Amendments 5 and 6 would add to the state constitution “stand your ground" laws specifically for churches in the two counties.

            Rep. Jamie Kiel, R-Russellville, who sponsored the Franklin County bill, said there is some ambiguity in the law as to whether a member of a church security team would be covered under “stand your ground” if they were in one part of a church campus and pursued an assailant in another part, such as by rushing from the sanctuary to the fellowship hall to intervene in a dangerous situation. The House passed Kiel’s bill 65-0 with 28 abstentions, while the Senate passed it 27-0.

            In January, Attorney General Steve Marshall issued a statement that said churches are treated no differently than other private property under Alabama’s “stand your ground” law.

            The amendments as they will appear on the ballot:

            Amendment 1

            Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to amend Article VIII of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 177 of the Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to provide that only a citizen of the United States has the right to vote.

            Amendment 2

            Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to increase the membership of the Judicial Inquiry Commission and further provide for the appointment of the additional members; further provide for the membership of the Court of the Judiciary and further provide for the appointment of the additional members; further provide for the process of disqualifying an active judge; repeal provisions providing for the impeachment of Supreme Court Justices and appellate judges and the removal for cause of the judges of the district and circuit courts, judges of the probate courts, and judges of certain other courts by the Supreme Court; delete the authority of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to appoint an Administrative Director Courts; provide the Supreme Court of Alabama with authority to appoint an Administrative Director of Courts; require the Legislature to establish procedures for the appointment of the Administrative Director of Courts; delete the requirement that a district court hold court in each incorporated municipality with a population of 1,000 or more where there is no municipal court; provide that the procedure for the filling of vacancies in the office of a judge may be changed by local constitutional amendment; delete certain language relating to the position of constable holding more than one state office; delete a provision providing for the temporary maintenance of the prior judicial system; repeal the office of circuit solicitor; and make certain nonsubstantive stylistic changes.

            Amendment 3

            Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that a judge, other than a judge of probate, appointed to fill a vacancy would serve an initial term until the first Monday after the second Tuesday in January following the next general election after the judge has completed two years in office.

            Amendment 4

            Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize the Legislature to recompile the Alabama Constitution and submit it during the 2022 Regular Session, and provide a process for its ratification by the voters of this state.

            Amendment 5

            Relating to Franklin County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that a person is not liable for using deadly physical force in self-defense or in the defense of another person on the premises of a church under certain conditions.

            Amendment 6

            Relating to Lauderdale County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that a person is not liable for using deadly physical force in self-defense or in the defense of another person on the premises of a church under certain conditions.

            This story was edited at 3:49 p.m. on Nov. 1 to correct a reference in the description to Amendment 3 that wrongly referred to Amendment 2.

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