Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment
tcberg at SAMFORD.EDU
Wed Nov 4 21:31:40 PST 1998
Volokh, Eugene wrote:
> The only news story I saw about this is that the amendment
> "appears to be passing." Does anyone have any more details?
The amendment passed. I don't know the final percentage, but as of
early this morning it was about 54 to 46 percent with many precincts
left to report. If those percentages stayed constant, the RFRA
amendment would have the lowest margin of victory of all the Alabama
ballot amendments this year (all of which passed), except for one
other: an amendment that authorized farmers who raise ostriches, emus,
and rheas to place a tax on the birds in order to promote the growth of
that industry (it was leading by 53 to 47 percent as of this morning).
A state constitution is a thing of beauty and a joy forever.
As a reminder to the list, the Alabama RFRA differs from other state
versions in that (1) it is embodied in the state constitution and (2) it
does not include the qualifier "substantial" before the triggering term
"burden on religious exercise."
In addition, as I'm sure many of you already know, Alabama's Republican
governor Fob James -- who received attention nationwide (and on this
list) for defending a judge's prayers and posting of the Ten
Commandments and for arguing in court that the incorporation of the
First Amendment was improper -- was defeated by a large margin, 58 to 42
percent. His Democratic opponent ran chiefly on the platform of a state
lottery to fund education scholarships. However, exit polls indicated
that the lottery was favored only narrowly, by about 51 to 49 percent.
Thus the speculation here is that Governor James was deserted by
independent voters and business-oriented Republicans because, among
other things, they believed the particularly aggressive stance he took
on religious and cultural issues had cast the state in a bad light.
(James had also let down business interests, in their view, on the issue
of tort reform.) I'm not commenting on this development, only
> Eugene Volokh, UCLA Law School
> 405 Hilgard Ave., L.A., CA 90095
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