Troy King: I Will Ignore The Law

The B’ham News has this story about A.G. Troy King. Mostly it’s a tale of how two specific events during King’s childhood led him to adopt inflexible rules that he now applies to everything he does. He’ll always be true to the ideas he developed when he was eleven.

It also has this little tidbit:

After completing law school, King went to work for then-Gov. Fob James, where he held several jobs.

During that time, James spoke out strongly against restrictions on school prayer and in support of then-Circuit Judge Roy Moore’s courtroom display of the Ten Commandments.

“The thing I learned from Governor James is how important it always is to be protective of your integrity and your principals,” King said.

He said he agreed with James that federal court rulings have unfairly restricted religious practices in public settings.

“I think federal judges have undermined the foundation of religious freedom and religious liberty in a lot of respects,” King said. “To me, Governor James understands as well as anybody else what the Bill of Rights protects and what the Constitution guarantees.”

King said, for example, that he does not believe teacher-led prayer in public schools is unconstitutional, as federal courts have ruled. He said he has no plans to initiate lawsuits about school prayer or other church-state issues.

First of all, we all ought to be really worried that King is taking Con Law lessons from the monkey man. I once took a class taught by a local lawyer who had to defend the state in an establishment clause case during James’s time as governor.This guy is as conservative as the day is long, he’s a real old school white shoes lawyer. And he told us that he flat out refused to make the arguments James wanted him to make: Moore-ish and Troy-ish arguments about the establishment clause not applying to Alabama. So Fob James is not someone a responsible lawyer would ever look to for advice about the First Amendment.

Second, why in the world is it so hard for Troy King to understand the difference between the expression of religion by state actors and private actors? The latter -ALONE – have freedom of religion. The former is the specific subject of the establishment clause. The constitution explicitly denies that the state has anything even remotely like “freedom of religion.” Roy Moore is perfectly free to put his ten commandments monument in his front yard; he is prohibited from putting it in his courtroom. That’s because he is a private individual in the first instance and a state actor in the second. When someone puts on that state hat, they are no longer acting as individuals. They are the state and are therefore limited in their actions by the constitution.

Third, instead of wasting time filing stupid briefs in other states, why not do something constructive here in Alabama? A little knowledge among our local officials would go a long way to preventing future lawsuits. No doubt first amendment law is confusing, and the majority of problems could be avoided if the local officials knew ahead of time what they could and could not do. So perhaps King ought to spend his resources educating local officials about what they can and cannot do under the establishment clause. King might not like the current state of the first amendment, but a good attorney can put aside his distaste for a law and advise his clients on how to obey it.

King, however, seems more intent on jousting with windmills than on actually doing his job.

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15 Comments on “Troy King: I Will Ignore The Law”

  1. Dan Says:

    So do you really think Troy doesn’t have a clue or do you think it’s all politics? Judging from his lifestory and the editorials he wrote as a law student, I’m going to say that he’s the genuine deal.

  2. Dan Says:

    Actually, I guess they were opinions — he wasn’t on the paper’s staff.

  3. Wheeler Says:

    those editorials settled it for me too. i used to think he was just another manipulative politician. but those things were written long before he was anywhere near public office. he’s a genuine nutcase.

  4. Kathy Says:

    “The thing I learned from Governor James is how important it always is to be protective of your integrity and your principals,” King said.

    The only thing I learned during James’ second term was that his mental health had seriously deteriorated since his first term.

    There was never a chance that I’d vote for King, but now there’s no chance I won’t vote for Tyson. King is a kook and an ideologue, and he’s the last person we need enforcing (or choosing not to enforce) the law.

  5. Don Says:

    “King might not like the current state of the first amendment”

    Having no real knowledge about the constitution I wonder how the “current” state differs from the “original” state, and how and why there is a difference if there is.

  6. wheeler Says:

    the original state = words freshly written on paper.

    the current state = those words as they have been applied to thousands of incedibly different situations.

    the reason for the “change” = life

  7. Don Says:

    # wheeler Says:
    October 22nd, 2006 at 8:03 am

    the original state = words freshly written on paper.

    the current state = those words as they have been applied to thousands of incedibly different situations.

    the reason for the “change” = life

    That proves how little I know about the constitution. I thought changes to the original would be made when needed through amendments rather than interpretations by judges or ultimately Supreme Court justices.

  8. Wheeler Says:

    don don’t be stupid. that’s the kind of ignorant crap you hear rush limbaugh and similar dumbasses spout.

    applying the words “tending to establish a religion” to a new context does not change the meaning of the words. the world is what changes, and the question is how those words apply to a world vastly different than the one facing the authors.

    the words mean the same thing now they did when they were written: government has to stay out of the religion business. all a court does is decide whether or not those words prohibit a particular government action. that is not changing the original. it is applying the original to a new situation.

    that the language is open and vague leads me to believe that is exactly what the founders intended. if they wanted to limit the application of the clause, they could have set out a list of specific prohibited activities. instead, they left things open for future generations to decide. they did not try to divine the future, instead leaving it up to us to decide what is, and is not, an establishment of religion.

  9. Don Says:

    Wheeler, I never listen to Limbaugh so I have no idea what he spouts and I don’t associate with dumbasses other than, apparently, myself, and I don’t imply that you may be stupid just because we disagree.

    The first amendment which you mention offers an example of the difference between those who believe in “original intent” and those who don’t. As you know what it says about government and religion is, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. Today though, it seems that instead of those words applying to just Congress, judges make it apply to anyone in any position in government, even those who just draw a paycheck that comes from the smallest government entity imaginable. You and others may think that’s proper, but there are millions who disagree, even without listening to Limbaugh.

    I think the proper way to change the constitution is by amendment and not by a ruling from the bench.

  10. demopolite Says:

    I think the proper way to change the constitution is by amendment and not by a ruling from the bench.

    —–

    Me too. However, everyone has a different INTERPRETATION of what those words mean. That’s why we get 9 pretty dang smart people up there to decide. “Plain meaning” is only “plain meaning” when it’s the meaning you personally want….and then it’s not “plain meaning” to the guy who thinks it means something a little bit different.

  11. wheeler Says:

    first, your feigned ignorance did indeed imply that my position is stupid. i just replied in kind, but absent the sneakiness.

    second, you say:

    “As you know what it says about government and religion is, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. Today though, it seems that instead of those words applying to just Congress, judges make it apply to anyone in any position in government, even those who just draw a paycheck that comes from the smallest government entity imaginable.”

    you omit: the fourteenth amendment, which came along in between the original and today.

    now, was the fourteenth supposed to make the first applicable to “anyone in any position in government?” your guess is as good as mine. that is a legitimate question with legitimate answers. the view that prevailed is the one you accuse of amending the constitution: that the fourteenth extended the first to the states.

    is “amendment” the right term for what happened? i don’t think so. i think the court faced a difficult legal problem – one people still argue about – and made its decision. throwing around accusations of judicial tyrany, or judicial amendments, is just what i called it earlier: stupid rhetoric.

  12. Don Says:

    wheeler, as an attorney, you know that reading between the lines can be faulty. I feigned no ignorance. I know very little about the US Constitution and law in general. I was merely seeking guidance from someone whom I assumed did, and in no way implied anything about you other than that I thought you knew more than I do and would be kind enough to explain things to me. If you thought otherwise, you have to deal with that, not I.

  13. Mike Babb Says:

    Wheeler,

    I really enjoy reading your blog for two reasons; first, like myself, you are a lawyer who apparently enjoys reading and discussing constitutional law, and two, although you have a much different opinion than I on some issues, you are always well-spoken and thoughtful (even if you’re opinion is wrong), which I respect.

    I would therefore direct you to what is in my opinion one of the most thorough and well-reasoned dictum on the establishment clause:

    http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0472_0038_ZD2.html

    Enjoy!

    Mike

  14. wheeler Says:

    look folks, the original point was that troy king is being really irresponsible. he may not like the current state of the first amendment – apparently some of you agree with him – but as the state’s attorney his job is to ensure compliance by the state with the law, whether he likes that law or not.

    as for the current state of the first amendment, my only argument is that it is silly and unproductive to call that state “a judicial amendment of the constitution.” nobody woke up and decided to change the constitution. instead, people raised tough questions about what the constitution does and does not apply to. someone had to provide answers. it’s the historical process of question and answers that brought us to where we are today. sure you can marshall historical and legal arguments for one answer as opposed to another. and some answers may be wrong. but that still does not make the overall gradual legal development into an amendment.

    if the founders don’t like the current state, then they should have used more specific language in the text. they left it open and ambiguous, so if they don’t like things today, that’s their own fault.

  15. Mike Babb Says:

    “if the founders don’t like the current state, then they should have used more specific language in the text. they left it open and ambiguous, so if they don’t like things today, that’s their own fault. ”

    I doubt the framers thought their words were open and ambiguous. If you read the debates that took place at the time of the ratification, they seemed pretty clear on the matter that Religion did not have to be completely separated from government, only that government could not show favoritism to one religion over another.

    Funny that on the same day the framers discussed and voted on the first amendment, they requested that Geo. Washington set aside a day to thank God for his blessings (Thanksgiving). Sounds to me like they all believed in God. I think the reason the framers weren’t more “precise” in their language, if that’s what you would prefer, is that they never imagined this country as one in which so many wouldn’t believe in a Supreme Being.


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