Charles Bishop Is An Idiot
I did not want to blog about the slavery apology any more, I really didn’t. I’ve already said what I gots to say, and Dan and Demopolite have independently expanded on points I already made. But this just blows my mind:
State Sen. Charles Bishop, R-Arley, said the effort this week to pass an apology for slavery in the Alabama Legislature was an effort by lawyers to get money out of lawsuits . . .
“It’s all about setting Alabama up for possible strong lawsuits on something that happened long before we were all born,” Bishop said. “The real purpose was money. It’s all about big bucks.”
This isn’t the first time Bishop has made an ass out of himself, but the ignorance he displays here is truly stunning. It shocks me that someone whose job is making law can so utterly fail to understand the law.
First, Demopolite points out the practical problems:
Yes…if the resolution passes, someone could sue for reparations. They could also sue for reparations if the resolution doesn’t pass. Someone could also file a lawsuit today against me because I used my evil powers to put a hex on them and make them sick.
My point: Just because someone can file a lawsuit doesn’t mean that they can win. There is a nifty little pleading called a Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim, and I honestly cannot think of a single tort claim that anyone today could make based on the slave status of their ancestors. Additionally, tort claims generally lie only with the person affected (with the exception of wrongful death), and the cause of action dies with the person affected. Even if someone could come up with a claim, it would most likely have to be barred by the statute of limitations since the longest limitations period is only twenty years.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That it is the intent of the Legislature that this resolution shall not be used in, or be the basis of, any type of litigation.
Finally, I said it before and I’ll say it again: This resolution could say “Resolved: That anyone with slave ancestors can sue Charles Bishop for being a complete a**hole” and it still would not lead to even one successful lawsuit.
A resolution is just that, a resolution. It has absolutely no legal value. In Laidlaw Transit, Inc. v. Alabama Education Ass’n, 769 So.2d 872, 883 (Ala. 2003), the plaintiffs offered a joint resolution as authority in favor of their interpretation of a statute. The Alabama Supreme Court responded (emphasis added):
A resolution such as this one is not a law; it is merely the form in which the Legislature expresses an opinion. The Legislature has no power to make or change law by resolution. Art. IV, § 61 Ala. Constitution (“No law shall be passed except by bill····”); Gunter v. Beasley, 414 So.2d 41 (Ala. 1982). Whatever the Legislature may have intended by Resolution 99-94 is irrelevant to our resolution of the issues presented on this appeal. The controlling law here is that expressed in the applicable budget acts. See Opinion of the Justices No. 275, 396 So.2d 81 (Ala. 1981); Opinion of the Justices No. 265, 381 So.2d 183 (Ala. 1980)(a statute cannot be amended by a joint resolution of the Legislature).
If a resolution is worthless as a means of interpreting a statute, it is even more worthless as a basis for a lawsuit. If any lawyer tried to use this resolution as the basis for a lawsuit, that lawyer would not only lose the lawsuit, but would probably be sanctioned for doing something so ridiculous.
In short, Sen. Bishop – a legislator – is either amazingly ignorant of the powers of the legislature; or he is using this as a pretext for his real thoughts on the issue. It’s a testament to his character that I have no idea which is the case.