4 weeks ago

Sessions: Making Alabama’s judiciary great again

President Trump has done a tremendous job nominating smart, qualified and tough conservative judges to the federal judiciary. But there are a lot more vacancies to fill, and he needs another term to finish what he started. While Supreme Court justices receive most of the attention, federal appeals court judges are nearly as influential.

Like the justices, they are appointed for life and hear cases touching on religious freedom, free speech, gun rights, abortion, criminal law, immigration and government regulation issues. Because the Supreme Court hears only 0.1% of appeals, these are essentially the most significant federal courts in the country.

When President Obama was sworn in on January 20, 2009, only one of these 13  federal appeals courts — the Ninth Circuit — was controlled by activist Democratic appointees. When he left office, nine of 13 circuits were controlled by Democratic appointees. Despite President Trump’s historic gains on the federal courts, if he is not reelected in 2020, the courts would flip back to the left — placing at risk his greatest legacy.

Most federal judges serve for several decades, and so their actions continue to impact the country long after the President who appointed them leaves office. For example, nearly half the federal circuit judges still hearing cases in Chicago were appointed by President Reagan. These numbers are the reason why some say that judicial appointments are President Reagan’s greatest legacy. And he certainly made an impact on the Supreme Court, elevating Justice Rehnquist to Chief Justice, who led the “the Rehnquist Revolution” that began to return power to the states, appointing Justice Scalia, one of the greatest jurists in our nation’s history. He also appointed 83 circuit judges, surpassing each of his four successors. But many of these judges are no longer on the bench and those who continue to serve are nearing retirement.

While President Reagan’s judicial legacy is at its twilight, President Obama’s judicial legacy has just begun to impact the country. And while President Reagan understood that our constitutional system depends on an impartial judiciary that will interpret the law as written, President Obama openly sought activist judges who would promote liberal policy preferences that Congress and the American people would not adopt. His Supreme Court nominees — Justices Sotomayor and Kagan — both of whom I opposed — are two of its younger members and over half of his appellate judges could feasibly sit on the courts for the next 40 years.

During my time as the ranking member of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, I led Republicans in successfully blocking President Obama’s most extreme judicial nominees who exhibited leniency for sex offenders and violent criminals promoted radical left-wing policy agendas like “constitutional welfare rights, rejected originalism and the limited role of the judiciary, and were openly hostile towards the right to bear arms, religious liberty, private property rights (to name just a few). So when President Trump was elected, he had over 100 judicial vacancies to fill and he has delivered, nominating two outstanding Supreme Court justices and over 50 appellate judges.

Indeed, just a few years ago, there were many federal judicial vacancies in Alabama — vacancies that President Obama tried to fill with progressive appointees. Alabama’s federal courts — as we know them — were one election away from a dangerous transformation. But Senator Shelby and I stood together through eight grueling years of the Obama presidency and blocked all but two of his nominees to our federal bench — including one appointee to a powerful appeals court. Fortunately, a lot has changed since President Trump was elected. In less than half the time President Obama was in office, President Trump has appointed five times that many highly qualified lawyers to sit on Alabama federal courts — including the first female judge in Montgomery and the first African-American judge in Mobile. More great Alabama judges are on the way.

One of President Trump’s first appeals court nominees was Judge Kevin Newsom of Birmingham. Before his nomination, Judge Newsom was a partner at one of Alabama’s oldest law firms and served as the chief appellate lawyer for the state of Alabama, where he argued in support of the Ten Commandments and against the use of federal law to prosecute abortion protestors. This past November, President Trump nominated Judge Andrew Brasher of Montgomery to the same court. Just 38 years of age, Judge Brasher also served as Alabama’s top appellate lawyer, where he tirelessly defended Alabama laws from lawsuits brought by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU. Once confirmed, Judge Brasher could sit on this court for the next 50 years. Judges Newsom and Brasher are — as President Reagan said of one of his judicial appointees — the kind of judges the American people want on the federal courts; judges who believe in the rule of law, who revere the Constitution and whose sense of fairness and justice are above reproach.

While President Trump has done great work filling judicial vacancies, whoever is elected president in 2020 will be responsible for filling even more vacancies. President Obama’s judges have upheld Obamacare, forced transgender bathrooms in public schools, struck down reasonable voter identification requirements, endlessly blocked the enforcement of our immigration laws and taken over schools and police departments. Whoever the Democrat party nominates to run against President Trump will appoint judges who are even more radical and will accelerate the left’s march to eviscerate the Constitution. With a third of the federal appellate judiciary hanging in the balance, the American people must decide whether they want more of President Trump’s originalists or President Obama’s progressives confirmed to the federal bench for life.

I promise you this — if I am so fortunate as to return to the U.S. Senate, I will continue the work I started as a leading voice in support of the President’s historic efforts to make the judiciary great again.

Jeff Sessions served as the 84th Attorney General of the United States, as Senator from Alabama, and as Ranking Member on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

3 hours ago

Greg Shaw releases first ad in Alabama Supreme Court reelection bid — ‘One of us’

Alabama Supreme Court Associate Justice Greg Shaw on Monday released the first television ad in his reelection bid to Place 1 on the court.

The spot, entitled, “Trump Tough,” lasts 30 seconds and opens with footage of Shaw driving a truck around a farm.

“Activist judges legislate from the bench, but not conservative Justice Greg Shaw,” a narrator says.

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“Justice Shaw is one of Alabama’s most conservative judges — fighting activism and interpreting the law,” the narrator continues. “A Christian fighting for our values, Justice Shaw has been married for 39 years, is of the highest character and never wavers from biblical principles. Justice Shaw is respected, Trump tough and, like the president, Greg Shaw is one of us.”

Watch:

Shaw is facing a tough Republican primary challenge from State Sen. Cam Ward (R-Alabaster), the chairman of the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee.

As of last Monday, February 10, Shaw had approximately $252,000 cash-on-hand while Ward had $113,000. Ward to that point had spent about $106,000 in the cycle while Shaw had spent $38,000. Updated financial disclosures are due on Tuesday, February 18, two weeks before the March 3 primary.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

4 hours ago

Hightower campaign unveils ads featuring the candidate’s faith in God, pro-life values

Bill Hightower’s campaign for Congress released two new ads on Monday that play up the candidate’s conservative values.

One is a 30-second television spot and the other is a one-minute radio spot.

Both ads begin by asserting Hightower’s strong commitment to the sanctity of life, which the candidate believes begins at birth.

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Hightower has long been one of Alabama’s most vocal pro-life politicians. His new television ad mentions pro-adoption legislation he sponsored while a member of the Alabama Senate.

Hightower has also frequently mentioned his pro-life stance on the trail during his congressional run and his unsuccessful pursuit of Alabama’s governorship in 2018.

The radio piece goes deeper into Hightower’s faith in God. The candidate says, “I committed my life to Jesus when I was 16 years old, and since then I’ve been a student of the word.”

Hightower’s main competitors for Alabama’s First Congressional District are Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl and State Rep. Chris Pringle (R-Mobile). The seat is being vacated by U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope), who is running for the U.S. Senate.

Both Carl and Pringle have released ads recently. All three men have voiced their support of President Donald Trump and the ongoing construction of a wall on the United States’ border with Mexico.

Hightower is alone in choosing to promote his support for term limits in his ads, though Pringle has signed a pledge signaling support for a term limits proposal.

The Alabama Republican primary is March 3.

Listen:

Watch:

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

4 hours ago

Matt Fridy releases ad showcasing citizen testimonials — ‘On Tuesday I’m voting Fridy’

State Representative Matt Fridy’s (R-Montevallo) campaign for the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals released an ad Monday that shows Alabama citizens vouching for the candidates’ character and legal abilities.

In the closing moments, the ad also features a clever turn of phrase, “Vote Fridy on Tuesday,” that the campaign hopes will stick with viewers.

The 30-second spot will begin airing on radio and cable this week.

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The individuals featured in the ad, who go unidentified, vouch for Fridy’s “brilliant legal mind” and his “integrity.”

Additionally, one man in the ad lauds Fridy as a “staunch conservative.”

The new piece is more conventional than the campaign’s first advertisement, which went for a humorous tone.

Fridy is widely considered the favorite to win the Civil Appeals Court race. His only opponent in the primary, Phillip Bahakel, has not been able to accrue much money for his campaign and has not released a television ad.

Watch:

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.

5 hours ago

Ainsworth to unveil legislation shortening appeals process for capital murder death row inmates

Alabama Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth on Tuesday will unveil legislation that will reportedly shorten the appeals process and expedite the death penalty for individuals convicted of capital murder and sentenced to be executed in the state.

Originally inspired by the record number of Yellowhammer State law enforcement officers across the state who have been killed in the line of duty over the past 13 months, the legislation will actually apply to all capital murder convictions resulting in the death penalty that occur in Alabama.

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RELATED: State Rep. John Rogers calls for automatic death penalty with no appeals for convicted cop killers

Ainsworth will be joined by bill sponsors at an 11:00 a.m. press conference in the State House to make the announcement. The Republican lieutenant governor announced two months ago that he was working on this legislation.

“‘Back the Blue’ must be more than just a slogan. Actions must follow words,” Ainsworth has said in a tweet. “Murdering an officer who maintains law and order should quickly cost your own life.”

Last year, the Alabama legislature passed a bill by State Rep. Chris Sells (R-Greenville) making it a capital offense to kill any on-duty first responder, not just policemen and corrections officers.

Killing an on-duty police officer has long been a capital offense in Alabama.

In Alabama, capital murder convictions result in either life imprisonment without parole or the death penalty.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

8 hours ago

7 Things: Byrne throwing haymakers in Senate race, Tuberville says he isn’t for amnesty but there is a tape, Trump plays the race card and more …

7. Bloomberg reportedly has made inappropriate comments towards female employees

  • A report from the Washington Post has shown detailed accounts of inappropriate comments former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made towards women and ways that he’s discriminated against women.
  • One of the accounts in the report was of a female employee who announced that she was pregnant, and Bloomberg responded, “Kill it!” President Donald Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway said that the way Bloomberg has treated his female employees creates an “unsafe workplace.” She added, “[T]o feel that you’re being harassed because of your gender, that is problematic.”

6. UAB one of the best hospitals

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  • UAB Hospital has made the cut for one of America’s Best Hospitals based on overall clinical excellence. Only the top 5% of hospitals in the country qualify.
  • There’s a total of 32 conditions and procedures that hospitals are evaluated on to be determined one of the best, including stroke, heart failure and heart attack. If treated at a hospital ranked as one of America’s best, there’s a 26.6% higher survival rate.

5. Every Trump appointee just needs to resign or be investigated?

  • Amid the drama of the Department of Justice getting involved in the case of Roger Stone, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is calling for U.S. Attorney General William Barr to testify before the Senate while others are calling for resignation or impeachment (which will never happen).
  • Klobuchar wants to ensure that the decision of the Justice Department wasn’t influenced by President Donald Trump with him “constantly tweeting out different requests of the Justice Department.” Barr has already agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

4. Medical marijuana vote expected this week

  • On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will be holding a public hearing where the medical marijuana bill will likely be discussed, and a vote on the bill could happen on the same day.
  • State Senator Tim Melson’s (R-Florence) would require that people first get a prescription for medical marijuana from a state-approved doctor before going to a dispensary to purchase their products. Only those with specific conditions would be approved for a medical marijuana card.

3. Trump takes “The Beast” for a spin at Daytona

  • President Donald Trump visited the Daytona 500 on Sunday where he acted as the Grand Marshall for the race and took the presidential limo on a lap around the track while chants of “four more years” and “USA!” filled the track.
  • Obviously, the media and their Democrats were not happy with this and complained that the limo was a government resource being used for campaign purposes, which is the same complaint they make about Air Force One. Even though both parties have complained about this practice in the past, it is clearly permissible.

2. Tuberville isn’t for amnesty

  • In the 2020 U.S. Senate race in Alabama, U.S. Representative Bradly Byrne (R-Fairhope) has released an ad that takes aim at former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville, replaying audio from a Shoals Republican Club meeting where Tuberville talks about illegal immigration, saying, “Put the wall up – then let them come in and become citizens like we all became citizens.”
  • The narrator in the ad responds with “Hey, Tommy, that’s amnesty,” but at a campaign stop in Hartselle, Tuberville said that when it comes to amnesty for illegal immigrants, “You have to go and start back the right way.” He added that people saying he’s for amnesty are part of “the swamp. … They can’t run on anything, they don’t do anything. They’ve never done anything.”

1. Byrne throwing punches shows the state of the race

  • Whether he is in second or third is up for debate, but U.S. Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Fairhope) is the first candidate to go on the attack in his own name in the 2020 U.S. Senate race, putting out a television ad saying that both former Auburn Football coach Tommy Tuberville and former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions “should’ve stayed fired.”
  • The ad compares Byrne to Tuberville and Sessions, saying that “Bradley is the proven fighter with a track record of defending President Trump and our values.” The Sessions campaign has responded to the ad saying that candidates attack when they’re “desperate and afraid.”