MONTGOMERY—Justice Tom Parker of the Alabama Supreme Court has stirred up a tempest which has brought him under a fierce barrage not only from the press but his own fellow justices on the court.
Parker, the only candidate blessed by former Chief Justice Roy Moore in the 2004 election to win, wrote an op ed piece for the Birmingham News highly critical of the state’s high court for overturning the death sentence of a 17-year-old defendant.
The court overturned the death sentence because the U. S. Supreme Court ruled a year ago that states can no longer execute people for crimes they committed as juveniles.
In his op ed piece, Parker chastised his fellow justices because they did not resist what he called the “unconstitutional opinion of five liberal justices on the U. S. Supreme Court.”
Justice Mike Bolin, who was elected to the high court the same time Parker was elected, called Parker’s remarks unprecedented.
Bolin’s comments were lame compared to the reaction of Gary Palmer, president of the very conservative Alabama Policy Institute, which ironically was founded by Parker some years ago.
In his rebuttal Palmer pointed out what he called the “utter hypocrisy” of Parker in encouraging the state court justices to become “activist state judges to resist activist judges on the U. S. Supreme Court.”
Parker’s comments were seen by some as the opening gun for a race for chief justice in the upcoming primary. There has been much speculation that he might challenge incumbent Chief Justice Drayton Nabers in the GOP primary.
It would be a no-lose race of sorts for Parker. He does not have to give up his seat as associate justice to run for chief justice.
Does the Birmingham City Council need a lobbyist to look after its interests in Montgomery? By a 5-3 vote the Council said “yes” but Mayor Bernard Kincaid, in a rare move, has vetoed the contract.
The Council had voted to retain the law firm of Miller, Hamilton, Snider and Odom and pay them $45,000 for six months service. The firm’s Birmingham office is headed by Giles Perkins, who would have done the actual lobbying. Perkins served as a campaign advisor Council President Carole Smitherman, who had spearheaded the effort to hire a lobbyist.
Smitherman said an effort may be made to override the mayor’s veto but it would take six votes on the council to accomplish this.
Speaking of big city mayors, Sam Jones hasn’t been on the job very long as the mayor of Mobile…the first black mayor in that city’s history…but already he has stirred up a few of his constituents.
Mayor Jones presented a key to the city to the Rev. Al Sharpton, the high profile and highly controversial minister, civil rights activists and frequent candidate for office.
Rev. Sharpton was in Mobile to speak an event commemorating the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Mayor Jones brushed off the criticism and added “we don’t want to get into trying to give keys based on fan clubs.”
I dare say few of you have ever seen a black bear in Alabama but if State Sen. Pat Lindsey, D-Butler, has his way in the Legislature…and he usually does…that animal will soon be designated as the “Official State Mammal.”
On Sen. Lindsey’s recommendation the Senate has passed by a vote of 25-0 a measure giving the black bear this recognition. If passed by the House the black bear will join a growing list of “official” state animals—yellowhammer, fighting tarpon, largemouth bass, racking horse and the red hills salamander have already been so designated.
Surely some day soon the possum will surely be honored.
And allow me to close my column with a personal note of congratulations to one of Alabama’s first rate community newspapers…The Clarke County Democrat in Grove Hill.
On Feb. 2 it will observe its 150th birthday. If Publisher Jim Cox has a cake with that many candles…and he lights all of them…it will look like hell, literally.
Bob Ingram has been covering Alabama politics for over 50 years.