Marshall asks for stay on ruling striking down Alabama Memorial Preservation Act
Legal proceedings continue to swirl around the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act, the state legislation passed in 2017 prohibiting the removal and alteration of monuments more than 40 years old on public property.
After the law was ruled unconstitutional earlier this month by a Jefferson County circuit judge minutes before his retirement from the bench, Attorney General Steve Marshall Friday filed for a stay of the ruling, meaning the law would still be in effect while the state appeals the decision.
Specifically, the motion to stay the original ruling “seeks to preserve the status quo condition of the Confederate Soldiers and Sailors Monument in Linn Park in downtown Birmingham pending the State of Alabama’s appeal of the Court decision to the Alabama Supreme Court.”
It has been reported that the City of Birmingham is considering removing the monument at the center of the controversy now that the law has been – at least temporarily – struck down. The monument has been covered by a large black wall since August 2017, near the end of former Mayor William Bell’s tenure.
Marshall already filed a notice of appeal of the court ruling to the Alabama Supreme Court on January 17.
In a statement, the attorney general said, “We believe the Court’s decision against the Memorial Preservation Act will be overturned due to the fact that it incorrectly assigns the right of free speech to a government subdivision (the City of Birmingham).”
“Federal constitutional law, recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court for over 100 years, is clear that ‘…a political subdivision, created by the state for the better ordering of government, has no privileges or immunities under the federal constitution which it may invoke in opposition to the will of its creator’” Marshall added.
State Senator Gerald Allen (R-Tuscaloosa), the sponsor of the legislation, has also said that he expects the circuit court decision to be overturned on appeal.
Allen criticized the now-retired judge who made that ruling, saying, “Under the Constitution, judges are to be neutral umpires who apply the rule of law fairly. A judge’s personal beliefs, whether about politics, sociology, or history, have no bearing on how he is to apply the law.”
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn