Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Residents of Majority-Black Macon County, Alabama, Claim White GOPers Usurped Their Voting Rights

Johnny Ford
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley signed an executive order on his first full day in office that violated the rights of voters in majority-black Macon County.

That is the primary claim in a federal lawsuit that states Bentley and Attorney General Luther Strange were part of a white, Republican effort to heap "economic devastation" on Macon County residents by unlawfully closing the VictoryLand casino.

How is this for irony? The Macon County lawsuit is unfolding as the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling any day in Shelby County v. Holder, a case that originated in Alabama and challenges Section 5 of the U.S. Voting Rights Act.

As for the case in Macon County, lawyers for Bentley and Strange have filed Motions to Dismiss, characterizing the lawsuit as "frivolous," "baseless," and "insulting." They also claim the Voting Rights Act does not apply to facts alleged in the complaint. (See Strange and Bentley motions at the end of this post.)

But Tuskegee Mayor Johnny Ford and other Macon County plaintiffs argue in a response that Bentley's executive order, appointing Strange to enforce gambling laws in all 67 counties, effectively usurped the authority of the Macon County sheriff. In approving Constitutional Amendment 744, plaintiffs state, voters authorized the sheriff "to promulgate and enforce the rules and regulations related to bingo in Macon County." (See plaintiffs' response to motions to dismiss at the end of this post.)

The actions of Bentley and Strange amount to an "abolition of an elective office" that is covered under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, per a U.S. Supreme Court case styled Presley v. Etowah County Commission, 502 U.S. 491 (1992), writes Massachusetts-based plaintiffs' lawyer Donald LaRoche.

Plaintiffs also raise civil-rights claims of purposeful discrimination and fundamental unfairness. But given the Deep South's ugly history of obstructing minorities at the ballot box, voting-rights claims likely will resonate loudly with the public--especially with the nation's high court about to issue a major opinion on a voting-rights case that originated here in Alabama. Writes attorney LaRoche for the Macon County plaintiffs:

Where the Alabama State Courts have repeatedly served as a rubber stamp to the recalcitrant majority officials and have ignored federal requirements, the plaintiffs' only recourse is to seek refuge in federal court and pray for an equitable relief. The defendants now move this Court to dismiss the plaintiffs' complaint in yet another attempt to deny Black Americans the enjoyment of their right to participate in the voting process and experience the sustainability of their choice. 
The defendants fasten their discriminatory stratagem to a feeble distinction between bingo and electronic bingo, declaring the latter to be criminal without the benefit of legislation or final judicial determination. This impuissant attempt to argue that the electronic form of bingo is criminal and any use of these devices is a violation of the gambling laws of Alabama is simply another clandestine attempt to suppress and nullify the lawful passage of Amendment 744 and deflate the voting power of the people of Macon County. 

At the heart of the controversy is a memorandum that Strange issued in May 2011, claiming Bentley's executive order gave the attorney general's office authority to determine what games amount to legal bingo in Alabama. Plaintiffs, however, state that Strange's memorandum is at odds with the Alabama Constitution, as outlined in Amendment 744. Writes LaRoche:

The Sheriff of Macon County, under his constitutional authority, approved the use of electronic bingo games. While the Attorney General may be authorized to 'enforce' the gambling laws in Alabama, as he is all other laws, the Alabama Constitution says that only the Sheriff of Macon County can devise regulations for the conduct and operation of bingo within Macon County. There are no general laws in Alabama which relate to bingo because it can only be authorized in a particular county by constitutional amendment. When Defendant Strange decided what bingo must be and issued his May 2011 memorandum, he usurped the authority which had been vested solely in the Macon County Sheriff. So while General Strange may have the authority to 'enforce' bingo regulations or general criminal laws, he does not have the authority to 'create' or 'promulgate' the rules anymore than he has the authority to 'create' or 'promulgate' general criminal laws (such authority being vested in the legislature).

All sides seem to agree that the U.S. Supreme Court's finding in Presley is central to the current dispute. All sides also reference Bunton v. Patterson, 393 U.S. 544 (1969), which was one of four cases--three from Mississippi, one from Virginia--that were consolidated on appeal. 

The sides disagree how Presley and Bunton should apply to the situation unfolding in Macon County. The key question appears to be this: Do the actions of Bentley and Strange "rise to the level of a de facto replacement of an elective office with an appointive one"? Plaintiffs answer that question in the affirmative:

Defendant Bentley's Executive Order No. 1, repealing former Governor [Bob] Riley's Executive Order No. 44 and essentially appointing Defendant Strange as the new "anti-gambling czar," was clearly a usurpation of the authority constitutionally given to the Macon County Sheriff, as related to bingo rules and regulations. This action constituted changes affecting voting, and as such, was subjected to the preclearance requirement pursuant to Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

On the surface, Presley might not bode well for the Macon County plaintiffs. After all, the nation's high court found that the Voting Rights Act did not cover the facts in that case. But LaRoche makes a powerful argument that alleged wrongdoing in Macon County goes way beyond that found in Presley:

The Governor's executive order appointed the Attorney General, who in turn, replaced the officer designated by the constitutional amendments. This diminished the authority of the official whom the electorates of Macon County voted for by de facto replacing the elected office they solely entrusted with the promulgation and regulation of bingo rules by constitutional amendment with an appointed office. This goes way beyond merely changing the internal operations of an elected body, such as the Etowah County Commission in Presley.


Anonymous said...

Excellent post on a complex topic, LS. You've done a real public service with this. Citizens need to understand the issues at stake in this case.

Anonymous said...

According to officials in Shelby County, we no longer have issues with voting rights in Alabama, right?

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 7:30,

Thanks for raising a timely issue. SCOTUS is expected to issue a ruling in the Shelby County voting-rights case--Shelby County v. Holder--perhaps as early as today:


Anonymous said...

Jon Stewart says the Voting Rights Act needs to be expanding, not contracting . . .


Gerry with a G said...

Excellent article from NBC Latino about the pending Shelby County case. BTW, I trust Jon Stewart on this issue much more than I would trust the Roberts court . . .


legalschnauzer said...


Thanks for the link to Latino NBC piece. One of the best updates I've seen. Shelby County is one of the most corrupt jurisdictions on earth, and the notion of a fraud like Frank "Butch" Ellis trying to have a say on such important national issues is preposterous. Here is key point in NBC piece:

"Now Shelby County maintains that the law is outdated. Shelby County Attorney Frank Ellis told NBC News that the South has changed and that Section 5 is not relevant anymore. Shelby County lawyers cite the record turnout of minorities in the 2012 presidential election as proof that Section 5 is no longer needed. However, Latino Decisions reports that Hispanic and African-American voters continue to face voting discrimination and inequality in the Section 5 states. States covered by Section 5 are more than five times likely to be sued for voting irregularities than non-covered states."

Anonymous said...

Is the MSM ever going to write about this case in Macon County?

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 8:30--

Good question. Opelika-Auburn News and Tuskegee News are only MSM outlets where I have seen coverage.

Anonymous said...

If the voting see-saw is so level in Shelby County, AL, why doesn't anyone check out the number of Democratic office holders in the county?

How many Democrats hold public office in Shelby County?

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 8:38--

I'm guessing the answer to your question is zero. Issues of party affiliation probably are not a factor under the Voting Rights Act, but they certainly say something about the real-world political scene here in Shelby Co. They also hint that maybe Shelby Co. is not the best place to be bringing a challenge to the Voting Rights Act.

Anonymous said...

The Montgomery Advertiser has chosen to not publish anything on this suit. They did publish a letter a week or so ago from Johnny Ford regarding the suit. Basically the MA reprints articles and editorials from other sources. Stuff they copy off the internet. Shameful and they wonder why circulation is in the toilet.

Anonymous said...

Before proclaiming that all is well on the voting front in Alabama, perhaps someone should conduct an investigation of what happened in governor's race of 2002. Maybe we can start by asking former AG and current US Judge Bill Pryor what happened to Siegelman votes overnight.

Dear Gussie said...

So our guv and ag are violating the Voting Rights Act just as Roberts court is about to say we don't need the law anymore? Makes a lot of sense.

jeffrey spruill said...

What happens when the Supremes rule 5 to 4 that Section 5 is no longer needed in Shelby County?

Anonymous said...

This lawyer from Massachusetts is what we called an "outside agitator" back in the good old Wallace days.

legalschnauzer said...

Good question, Jeffrey. Here is how SCOTUS phrased the issue when it granted certiorari to hear the case:


No. 12-96.
Supreme Court of the United States.

November 9, 2012.
The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted limited to the following question: Whether Congress' decision in 2006 to reauthorize Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act under the pre-existing coverage formula of Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act exceeded its authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and thus violated the Tenth Amendment and Article IV of the United States Constitution.

Anonymous said...

in reading as fast as i can and doing the best as can be in 'understanding' all this, first the voting rights act was because of the discrimination as so dramatic in the south that the federal government got to go in and monitor.

were we a true constitutional republic this would not be in the time of digital.

everyone gets to vote, according to the law, us constitution. that is of course as the citizen with the right due to the law followed-obeyed to vote.

we're in the dark ages.

internet is automatic in voting rights.

we have as one said, the roberts' court. yep this means the people are indeed commodities for the future billionaires who are the SCOTUS POTUS FLOTUS and other not we the people US.

roberts' court just said yes to dna getting taken and this violates protection of 4 amendment, and scotus reversed an appeal court on this treason.

we got george w bush from scotus, so the time has past when we should get all people to get law degrees so we can have other than a royal top of the pyramid that steps down hard on the base.

we could read the us constitution very carefully over and over again until we are confident we get what we are in the reality of good law ...

bring the FORUM here to LS where the teacher has appeared and we are ready, students of the future as self reliant on our ability to read, write and vote.

Unknown said...

All readership can follow LS leadership, for the sake of literacy we can indeed revolutionize the voting into electronic bingo which it already is.

Legal Schnauzer proves every citizen can find a mentor and then 'do it ourselves and take the burden of God'.

We don't need the "GOD IT" >>technology<< to control the mind of our US body America.

We need LS to clone in every state at least one or more.

jeffrey spruill said...

Mr. Schnauzer:

Project on Fair Representation thinks Section 5 is a Jim Crow-era time warp.

That's exactly what they want--a return to the Jim Crow-era and the Roberts Court will oblige:


Anonymous said...

Colorado River is dry before reaching the sea via Mexico.

Imagine the immigration from cities that were intentionally built, to grow revenue for the 'money changers'.

Phoenix and Los Angeles, warm places seeking warm places with water.

Nevada's Las Vegas.

All places where the Colorado River has been rerouted are to see migrations and ghost towns.

Dust Bowls cause huge migrations and that's what's coming according to National Geographic photographer.

So LS, maybe you want to reconsider where you migrated from when the $hit hits and indeed growing revenue appears to have consequences in the natural resource of water.

e.a.f. said...

Excellent article. Great read! This is what needs to be in msm.

It was funny to read about those who would argue the voting rights act is no longer needed because so many minorities are now voting. Well that maybe because there are more minorities living in the area. It doesn't mean trying to vote has gotten any easier.

If what goes on in Alabama, is what the U.S.A. is trying to "export" to other countries, they need not bother. Those countries already have their own version.

Thank you again for exposing these violations of people's democratic rights.

Unknown said...


You're a confusing blogger, poster.

You talk of Roger Legal Schnauzer exposing what Alabama is trying to peddle to other countries ... and so on ... or that is my hearing your words ....

Evidently you missed the Arab Spring and the killing of Ambassador Stevens in Libya?

Democratic rights?

How about BILL OF RIGHTS'?!

OR term of art, BUNDLE OF RIGHTS'!! Meaning we've a full Constitutional Republic protection which is far greater than the 'democratic' sell.

Rome didn't make it either as a full Constitutional Republic.

Some things haven't changed since so long ago that it is very difficult to think you're other than one who is sent here to sound like a highly intelligent voice in the 'wilderness?'

Legal Schnauzer's Roger Shuler has been ONE OF THE LONE VOICES IN THE WILDERNESS alright, where the pedophiles run just about all there is to 'democratically' cover up, there we find the sickest of our species.

Say out-loud eaf, on the record, that LEGAL SCHNAUZER ROGER SHULER uncovered the worst truth of our government that no country in earth wants. And this is to be expected by the higher intellects.

Pedophilia as our greatest commodity USA is unacceptable and furthermore DIGITAL DUST to rape, pillage and plunder the earth is also a definite form of financial pedophilia, REJECTED.

Unknown said...


I am here to tell the readers at LS about BERNAYS who was Sigmund Freud's nephew. Freud didn't endorse his nephew by the way.

Edward Bernays PARANOID from the "Bewildered Herd" revolts across Europe, there had to be a way in which the "rich" controlled their "stocks".

People humans get very tired of being the commodities for those that make up lies.

It is a lie, 'democratic.'

Democracy is BS and we see this in the need for more and more and more and more COLORS OF LAW.

Our U.S. Constitution is our good law and it stands to this day.

Read all the Articles, eaf, then come here and share the power of our truth and justice.

Granted women had to suffer to get any rights' and definitely the people of any other color than white are in trouble unless demanding to be treated as the same human being formula that nature gave at birth and there are no strings attached: freedom.

Republic may be boring but, at least there wouldn't be billionaires and trillionaires that own MSM to brainwash and PROPAGANDIZE - that is exactly what your controlling trolling is.

READ PROPAGANDA by Bernays LS readers, posters, bloggers and any and all trolls, too.

And very carefully read our U.S. Constitution, there shall be a revolution in real time.

Yes, thank you LS, for opening wide the eyes of the programmed, propagandized and dumber too, those that have rocks in the brains and GMO souls.

For all the innocent and curious, there is HOPE in the real vibe of this word and LS has been the gardener of USA organic form to stay alive in a Republic government for sanity to prevail.

When the BLACK PANTHERS learned the U.S. Constitution with 2000 members and more, then Geronimo Pratt was sent to prison and we know how awful the blacks have had it from day one.

That is the greatest secret kept from Americans, our form of government that sets us all free and does not reap and heap countless COLONY SCRIPT for only the 'evildoers'.

e.a.f. said...

Coyote, e.a.f. didn't miss anything. when referring to "exporting" it is in referance to Americans invading such countries as Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. -- we frequently hear Americans talking about "freeing" other countries from dictatorships, etc., while all they are doing is looking after corporate interests.

As to the "Arab spring", that was the work of young Arabs. It had little or nothing to do with the U.S.A.

Now as to you "insisting" e.a.f. say anything about anything, get a grip kid. Get a life, and please stay on topic. L.S. has specific topics he writes about in each article. It is always helpful when visitors to the blog, keep their comments at least in the ball park.

Now I and others have commented on your comments. You would think you would have gotten the message by now. Apparently not, but that would not be inconsistent with your attitude as displayed in your comments.

Anonymous said...

Eaf I live in AL and I'm not in the least impressed with your comments. Not enlightening in the least and now all you do lately is attack others! Just caught up on reading new ones and every new one was you insulting someone.

Little tid bit, stick to Canadian politics of you can grasp it. You certainly don't grasp ours!