On Election Day, the people of Alabama
will have the chance to cast their votes for a number of federal and state officials.
In addition, voters will decide whether several proposed amendments should be
added to the Alabama Constitution.
The purpose of this guide is to explain the statewide constitutional amendments in plain language to help Alabama physicians make informed decisions on election day.
STATEWIDE AMENDMENT 1:
an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to amend Article VIII of
the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, now appearing as Section 177 of the
Official Recompilation of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, as amended, to
provide that only a citizen of the United States has the right to vote.
If adopted, Amendment 1 will have little to no impact on voting
laws, as Alabama and federal voting requirements already require voters to be
citizens of the United States.
Amendment 1 concerns who has the right to vote in Alabama,
making a wording change that has no legal effect.
Currently, the Alabama Constitution reads that “every citizen of the United States. . .
.” This amendment, if passed, would exchange the word “every” for “only” so
that the Alabama Constitution would read, “Only
a citizen of the United States. . . .”
This language and the original language of the Alabama Constitution of 1901 mention U.S. citizenship. That has traditionally been interpreted to mean that U.S. citizenship is required to vote. Federal law requires only U.S. citizens vote in federal elections. Amendment 1 proposes to change the language of Article VIII to replace “Every Citizen of the United States” with “Only a Citizen of the United States.”
STATEWIDE AMENDMENT 2:
an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to increase the membership
of the Judicial Inquiry Commission and further provide for the appointment of
the additional members; further provide for the membership of the Court of the
Judiciary and further provide for the appointment of the additional members;
further provide for the process of disqualifying an active judge; repeal
provisions providing for the impeachment of Supreme Court Justices and
appellate judges and the removal for cause of the judges of the district and
circuit courts, judges of the probate courts, and judges of certain other
courts by the Supreme Court; delete the authority of the Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court to appoint an Administrative Director Courts; provide the Supreme
Court of Alabama with authority to appoint an Administrative Director of
Courts; require the Legislature to establish procedures for the appointment of
the Administrative Director of Courts; delete the requirement that a district
court hold court in each incorporated municipality with a population of 1,000
or more where there is no municipal court; provide that the procedure for the
filling of vacancies in the office of a judge may be changed by local
constitutional amendment; delete certain language relating to the position of
constable holding more than one state office; delete a provision providing for
the temporary maintenance of the prior judicial system; repeal the office of
circuit solicitor; and make certain nonsubstantive stylistic changes.
If adopted, Amendment 2 would implement
changes to how the administration of Alabama’s court system functions and
revise the process for appointing and impeaching judges.
amendment proposes six changes to the state’s judicial system. In summary, this
1. Provides that
county district courts do not have to hold city court in a city with a
population of less than 1,000;
is largely a practical change.
2. Allows the
Alabama Supreme Court, rather than the Chief Justice, to appoint the
Administrative Director of Courts;
the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court chooses the Director of Courts, who
oversees the $450 million and 2,500 employee state court system. Since 2010,
there have been five different Chief Justices and therefore five different
Directors of Courts. If approved, Amendment Two would allow for the entire
Supreme Court to make an appointment out of three candidates brought to them by
a nominating board of judges, a clerk, and a lawyer. Instead of changing every
time the Court’s makeup changes, this appointment would last for ten years.
3. Increases from 9
to 11 the total membership of the Judicial Inquiry Commission and determines
who appoints each member (the Judicial Inquiry Commission evaluates ethics
complaints filed against judges);
the Commission’s composition from 9 to 11 allows for the inclusion of a probate
judge and a municipal judge.
4. Allows the
Governor, rather than the Lieutenant Governor, to appoint a member of the Court
of the Judiciary (the Court of the Judiciary hears complaints filed by the
Judicial Inquiry Commission);
elsewhere has already caused this shift to happen in practice. The amendment
would simply clarify it in the Alabama Constitution.
5. Prevents a judge
from being automatically disqualified from holding office simply because a
complaint was filed with the Judiciary Inquiry Commission; and
judges are suspended from service, with pay, when a complaint is filed with the
Judicial Inquiry Commission. Alabama, alone, suspends judges based simply on a
complaint. Amendment 2 removes this provision.
6. Provides that a
judge can be removed from office only by the Court of the Judiciary.
Supreme Court justices and appellate judges are the only judges suspect to
impeachment. This change would place them under the same disciplinary
procedures as other judges.
STATEWIDE AMENDMENT 3:
an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that a judge,
other than a judge of probate, appointed to fill a vacancy would serve an
initial term until the first Monday after the second Tuesday in January
following the next general election after the judge has completed two years in
amendment changes the initial term of a judge that is appointed to fill a
vacancy due to death, resignation, retirement, or removal. The current law and
this proposed amendment do not apply to probate judges.
vacancies, which are created by the death, resignation, retirement, or removal
from office of a sitting judge, are filled by gubernatorial appointment.
Judicial terms are six years. Per the Constitution, probate judges appointed by
the Governor serve out the balance of the unexpired term. Also, per the
Constitution, all other appointed judges serve until the general election after
serving one year in office.
In practice, however, appointed judges routinely serve two, and sometimes almost three years, due to how the dates of general elections fall. Amendment 3 extends the time of service for an appointed judge from the general election after one year of service to the general election after two years of service.
STATEWIDE AMENDMENT 4
an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to authorize the
Legislature to recompile the Alabama Constitution and submit it during the 2022
Regular Session, and provide a process for its ratification by the voters of
constitution contains segregationist and racist language and has sections that
are repeated or do not currently apply. If approved, Amendment 4 would allow
the state legislature to rearrange the constitution and remove racist or
constitution can be changed only during a constitutional convention or when a
majority of voters approve a constitutional amendment.
4 does not change the requirement that a majority of voters must approve a
constitutional amendment. Amendment 4, if approved, simply allows the Alabama
Legislature, when it meets in 2022, to draft a rearranged version of the state
draft could only:
remove racist language;
remove language that is repeated or no longer applies;
combine language related to economic development; and
combine language that relates to the same county.
No other changes could be made.
STATEWIDE AMENDMENTS 5 & 6
Amendment 5 Text:
to Franklin County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of
1901, to provide that a person is not liable for using deadly physical force in
self-defense or in the defense of another person on the premises of a church
under certain conditions.
Amendment 6 Text:
to Lauderdale County, proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of
1901, to provide that a person is not liable for using deadly physical force in
self-defense or in the defense of another person on the premises of a church under
amendments are identical other than the county to which they apply. Both would
put into the Alabama Constitution a version of the state’s already-existing
“stand your ground” law that applies to the use of deadly force in churches.
the statewide “stand your ground” law changes, these amendments will have
little practical effect.
is among 27 states with stand your ground laws, which protect individuals from
criminal prosecution if they use physical or deadly force in defending
themselves or someone else from serious threat of harm. The law does not
require the person to retreat before using physical force.
without specific language related to churches or the proposed amendment, lawful
participants in a church have the right to defend themselves when under attack.
But the stand your ground law and the proposed amendments would not prohibit
churches from developing policies banning handguns and other weapons from
If passed by the majority of voters in Alabama and by voters in Franklin and Lauderdale County, the state constitution would be amended to contain a special “Stand Your Ground” law that applies to churches in Franklin and Lauderdale Counties.