Thursday, June 09, 2005

Judges should know these things

OK, see, it's not that I like shooting fish in a barrel. It's just that Roy Moore keeps wheeling them right up to my doorstep.

The former Alabama chief justice already has tried to ask a U.S. circuit court to overturn Supreme Court precedent, according to a federal circuit judge. Then, of course, there's Moore's oft-repeated claim that last year's failed Amendment Two, which would have deleted racist language from the state constitution, was little more than a backdoor attempt to raise taxes judicially. (And yes, I've debunked that illogical assertion before.)

Now there's reason to wonder how much Moore knows about a court opinion that has his name on it. An upcoming law review essay by a visiting University of Alabama law professor takes aim at yet another of Moore's absurdities, noting that a 1993 decision in a school-funding case declared unconstitutional the 1956 amendment that eliminated the right to public education. The essay also observes that though the Alabama Supreme Court tossed out part of the 1993 decision in 2002, the portion restoring a right to public education remains in force.

Moore, predictably, disagrees, dismissing the essay as "highly technical legal jargon" designed to help activist judges "manipulate the law for their own political agenda." He also says the Supreme Court's 2002 decision in Ex parte James vacated the entire 1993 decision, so no right to public education exists in Alabama.

One problem: Moore's wrong. The majority opinion in Ex parte James -- issued only after the justices ignored some long-standing jurisdiction limitations, as Justice Douglas Johnstone notes in his dissent, but that's beside the point -- dismissed the case only insofar as courts sought to impose "any specific remedy" to correct the funding inequity. The decision does contain language that says the 1993 ruling should be vacated, but it's in a partial dissent by Moore, which lacks the force of law.

Does Moore know what the majority opinion for which he voted says? Does he know that his partial dissents aren't the law? And does he care about the answer to either question?


Anonymous Kathy said...

To your three questions, I would anwswer "no", "no", and "no".

11:38 AM  

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