Posted by Jack Brymer on 2012-08-12
Called birthplace of "rebirth" of concern for Alabama's antiquated 1901 constitution
Samford University's Cumberland School of Law Dean John Carroll welcomed approximately 100 people attending the Bailey Thomson Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform (ACCR) annual meeting Saturday, Aug. 11, to the birthplace of the "rebirth" of concern over the antiquated 1901 Alabama Constitution. He cited former president of Samford, the late Thomas E. Corts, as one "voice" for reform, current professor Howard Walthall who has worked tirelessly on the project, and Albert Brewer, former Governor of Alabama and now professor at Cumberland.
Also, the keynote speaker for the event was Samford alumnus and former professor Wayne Flynt, noted historian, author and professor emeritus at Auburn University. Flynt shared where the organization had come from, where it is, and where it is going.
Flynt suggested that the future of ACCR will be a battle between what he identified as "pragmatists" and "idealists."
"Pragmatists work within the system in order to move it ever so slightly toward greater justice and modernity," he said. One the other hand, idealists, he suggested, seek "justice for the poor and working class Alabamians, as well as the modernization of the state and a massive overhaul of public schools demands a complete revision or better yet, junking the 1901 Constitution and starting over."
While the pragmatist and idealist represent the opposite polarities with ACCR, Flynt said his "hunch" is that the more ineffective pragmatists are in the future. "No one in the ACCR is a total pragmatist or a total idealist," he said.
Flynt's "hunch" may be prophecy. Repeated efforts for a Constitution Convention to modernize the 1901 Constitution have failed, as have various efforts to make changes article by article. Four years ago, however, a more "pragmatic" approach was approved: A Constitution Revision Commission was approved by the Legislature with the first of three revisions on the ballot in November. They are revision of the constitution's articles on banking and private corporations, and removal of all languages which have been ruled unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution.
"We are finally going to have a new Alabama constitution ," said Bob McCurley, coordinator of the commission and former executive director of the Alabama Law Institute. He noted that the approach is incremental and is being pushed by the legislative leaders.
Craig Baab, senior fellow at Appleseed and their Constitutional Revision Project Director, told the gathering that "it is vital that week succeed this fall," referring to the election in November. "If we can't make a case for these easy articles, we're going to have trouble down the road," he predicted. "We can't function this way anymore. I think that's a reality-we are at the precipice now," he was quoted as saying.