Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:
The Decatur Daily on Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall singing onto a Texas lawsuit that asked the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate President-elect Joe Biden’s victory:
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall routinely touts his support of states’ rights, complaining loudly about federal overreach.
For those who took seriously his professed devotion to the 10th Amendment, therefore, it must have come as a surprise that he signed onto a Texas lawsuit that sought to use a federal entity — the U.S. Supreme Court — to overturn the election results in four sovereign states: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Georgia.
The lawsuit was not only a violation of the states’ rights principles that Marshall claims to hold dear, it was a baldly partisan attack on democracy. And maybe more important, given that Marshall is the chief legal officer of Alabama, it was a lawsuit that patently lacked merit.
Those who doubt that partisanship, not legal analysis, motivated Marshall to sign onto the lawsuit that was quickly and unceremoniously dismissed by the Supreme Court on Friday should ask themselves this: Would Marshall have filed the same suit if President Donald Trump had won reelection?
Indeed, the allegations of the lawsuit focused on a claim that election officials in the four states reacted to the pandemic by expanding voting in ways not expressly approved by their legislatures. Yet in pro-Trump Alabama, Marshall supported just such an expansion. Secretary of State John Merrill wisely decided that people who were concerned about contracting COVID-19 at the polls on Election Day could instead vote absentee by checking the following box on their absentee ballot application: “I have a physical illness or infirmity which prevents my attendance at the polls.”
The Alabama Legislature has specified the limited circumstances under which absentee ballots can be utilized, and concern about possibly contracting a disease is not one of them.
As Merrill said when he announced the liberalized rule on absentee ballots, “In collaboration with Governor Kay Ivey, Attorney General Steve Marshall, and local election officials across the state, we have made it easier and safer for Alabamians to vote during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The decision not to force people to expose themselves to the coronavirus as a condition of exercising their right to vote was a good one, as were the similar decisions in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Georgia.
How would Marshall have responded if a liberal state had sued Alabama in federal court for expanding voting rights beyond what the Alabama Legislature had authorized?
Sadly, Marshall’s decision to add Alabama to a frivolous lawsuit for nakedly partisan reasons has significance that outlasts the Supreme Court’s dismissal of the complaint.
Marshall has tremendous power. He has supervised the writing of hundreds of attorney general opinions, and will supervise hundreds more, that control the actions of state agencies, municipalities and counties. He also has the power to initiate criminal prosecutions, which he has frequently done against political figures.
The attorney general’s participation in the Texas lawsuit should serve as a warning to all Alabamians. Marshall demonstrated that he is willing to ignore the law in pursuit of a self-serving partisan agenda.
It’s embarrassing that Alabama representatives Mo Brooks, Robert Aderholt, Gary Palmer, Bradley Byrne and Mike Rogers joined the 126 House Republicans who sought to intervene in the Texas lawsuit and thereby erase 20 million votes, but not particularly surprising or dangerous.
While Marshall, like the GOP representatives, is an elected official, his function in state government demands of him something more than partisanship. It is fine that he supports Trump and that he is a solid Republican. By showing that his partisanship is more important than the laws he has taken an oath to uphold, however, he has called into question the validity of his past and future attorney general opinions and his office’s criminal prosecutions.
The Dothan Eagle on Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine:
Along-awaited Pfizer vaccine against coronavirus began arriving at the first of 15 sites in Alabama on Monday, marking the first hopeful steps on a long journey back to normality.
For most Alabamians, an opportunity for inoculation may still be months away. Only 40,950 doses are to arrive this week, and will be spread among pre-identified hospitals equipped with the ultra-cold storage necessary for the vaccine. Then the vaccines will be offered in phases to Alabamians in predetermined tiers, beginning with front-line health care workers. That’s the obvious best practices, considering health care workers have the highest risk of exposure.
Other vaccines from different laboratories will soon follow, and ultimately there should be enough vaccine available for everyone. However, it’s important that Americans understand that the rollout won’t happen overnight, and that continuing adherence to safety practices — face coverings, social distancing, and curtailed gatherings — be maintained until health officials determine it’s safe to relax restrictions.
There may be light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s still far in the distance.
The TimesDaily on giving:
The willingness of citizens in the Shoals to help the needy in our communities never ceases to amaze Salvation Army Captain Benjamin Deuel.
“I know I say it all the time,” Deuel said last week, “but this is the most giving community I’ve ever been a part of, and I’ve been in a lot of places.”
That spirit of giving has been particularly noticeable throughout 2020. Thousands of area residents have lost their jobs as the COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses small and large to shut down their operations for weeks back in the spring. Some of those businesses did not reopen. Others did, but with reduced workforces.
The loss of income that has resulted has left many families struggling to meet the basic needs of food and in some instances housing. And when people are struggling, they turn to agencies such as the Salvation Army for assistance.
Right now, the needs are greater than they have been in many years, and yet they continue to be met.
Deuel is the first to admit the staff and volunteers of the Salvation Army were worried about how the year would unfold after the pandemic disrupted lives starting in March.
“We were a little fearful of how this pandemic would affect giving this year,” Deuel said.
Instead, residents have looked beyond their own difficulties, and opened their hearts and their wallets to those less fortunate.
“People were so giving during COVID to support our efforts and keep our shelter open 24 hours a day,” he said. “The Shoals has stepped up and has already given big and continues to.”
So much so that despite the continuing ill effects of the pandemic, it looks as if the Salvation Army can meet its $150,000 goal for the annual Red Kettle campaign.
Likewise, the TimesDaily’s annual Empty Table Fund is pushing towards its goal of $39,000.
The proceeds of this fund are given to the Salvation Army to be used to provide food for those living in the shelter and for families struggling with food scarcity, as well helping to pay utility expenses during the winter months.
There are countless other examples of the kindness that exemplifies the Shoals.
On Thanksgiving Day, G’s & Big Bertha’s BBQ and Soulfood made and distributed meals for hundreds of residents. Crossroads Community Outreach provided meals for the area’s homeless during lunchtime, and Room at the Table distributed meals.
The nonprofit Christmas for Kids organization faced the problem of having to provide Christmas gifts for about 1,000 children of incarcerated parents. Tuesday, employees of the local Target store delivered sacks full of presents that employees had collected.
The response of area residents all through this challenging year is a heart-warming tribute that exemplifies the traits that make the Shoals such a special place.
“People seem to be more aware of these needs than ever now,” Deuel said in summarizing the response of area residents. “We’re finding that many of the people who give the most are those who’ve been in need themselves and have it in their hearts to give.”