A federal appeals court says the part of Alabama’s immigration law that ordered public schools to check the citizenship status of new students is unconstitutional. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that the provision wrongly singles out children who are in the country illegally. Alabama was the only state that passed such a requirement. The 11th Circuit says a lower court should have blocked that part of the law. The court separately says Alabama police can continue checking immigration documents for people they stop. American Civil Liberties Union attorney Omar Jadwat says yesterday’s decisions, especially the one on schools, shoot down the idea of using the law as a way to comprehensively investigate and prosecute illegal immigrants. But Republican Governor Robert Bentley sees the rulings differently. He says the court upheld the “essence” of the law, which he says, is requiring people to be legal citizens if they live in Alabama. A group of protestors rallied yesterday at the federal courthouse in Tuscaloosa to express their opposition to the immigration law. They were part of a nationwide protest called “No Papers, No Fear.” Tuscaloosa police ordered them to leave the federal building because they did not have a permit to demonstrate in the area.
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Some big names in the Birmingham business community have donated thousands of dollars to help U.S. Representative Spencer Bachus pay for his legal defense stemming from an ethics investigation. Documents obtained by the Birmingham News show 70 individuals, companies, associations and political action committees (most of them from Alabama) gave up to $5,000 each to Bachus’ legal defense fund between April and July. In late April the Office of Congressional Ethics cleared Bachus of allegations he used his official position to inform his personal investment decisions.
Former Secretary of State Nancy Worley goes on trial October 22 on charges related to her unsuccessful re-election campaign in 2006. Circuit Judge Truman Hobbs Jr. set the trial date after the Alabama Supreme Court declined to review Worley’s appeal Friday. Worley originally faced five felony charges and five misdemeanors for a campaign fundraising envelope and bumper sticker she sent five employees in her office in 2006. Hobbs threw out the felonies in 2007, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reinstated them, and the Supreme Court declined to review the case by a 5-1 decision last week.
Jefferson County Circuit Judge Robert Vance Jr. has signed up to run as a Democrat for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. The Alabama Democratic Party disqualified its nominee, Pelham attorney Harry Lyon, last week over some statements he made. The party started seeking a replacement candidate yesterday. A party official said Vance signed up shortly after the party headquarters opened Monday morning. So far, he’s the only one to sign up. The deadline is Wednesday. If more than one candidate signs up, the State Democratic Executive Committee will pick a nominee. The new Democratic candidate will take on Republican Roy Moore in the general election Nov. 6.
Two state legislators say they will introduce a bill in the Legislature that allows local school boards to set start and stop dates for the school year in their systems. The bill by Republican Sen. Bill Holtzclaw of Madison and GOP Rep. Paul DeMarco of Homewood is being pre-filed this week. It would change a provision passed by lawmakers this year that requires the first day of school be no earlier than the Monday two weeks before Labor Day and the last day be no later than the Friday before Memorial Day. Supporters of the later start date say it extends the tourist season and boost tax collections. But Holtzclaw says it takes away control of the school calendar from local officials.