SPLC response to Supreme Court decision, Alabama charter schools and food insecurity fundraiser

Mar 5, 2015

Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center

The latest twist in Alabama's same sex marriage controversy drew a quick response from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Alabama Supreme Court ruled that probate judges have to stop issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples. The state’s probate judges will be required to adhere to Alabama law defining marriage as strictly between a man and a woman, even though a federal district court declared that law unconstitutional in late January.

Richard Cohen is the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center. He says he’s disappointed in the court’s ruling.

“You know, we’re about to celebrate another civil rights milestone, the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and Alabama officials were adamantly opposed. And I just think it’s a shame for Alabama on the eve of such an important anniversary to find itself on the wrong side of history again.”

The confusion is expected to be cleared up when the U.S. Supreme Court takes up same-sex marriage later this year. They’re expected to rule nationally on that issue in June.

Alabama is one step closer to establishing charter schools in the state.

The Senate Education and Youth Affairs Committee approved a charter school bill after public hearing yesterday morning. The committee did strike some language from the bill. Opponents thought the original measure might allow completely online schools to be established.

The bill will allow for 10 new charter schools to be established in Alabama each year, and will also let school districts convert an unlimited number of existing schools to charter status.

Supporters say charter schools will allow for more student opportunity and innovation. Opponents have questioned the schools' accountability, and whether they'll funnel even more money away from already struggling public schools.

Senate President Del Marsh says the bill could head to the Senate floor for a vote as early as next week.

Alabama is one of only eight states that doesn't currently allow charter schools.

An organization in Alabama is raising money to feed over thirteen hundred children who go hungry through food insecurity.

Alabama Childhood Food Solutions is holding its annual banquet and auction today as a part of its third anniversary celebration. The proceeds from the event will go towards delivering backpacks of food to children in Shelby, Talladega, and Coosa counties.

Jim Jones is the co-director of Alabama Childhood Food Solutions. He says that children with adequate diets are more likely to be motivated in school and to be successful in the future.

“Our goal is to change a generation of children into viable, economically secure adults and encourage them to get the educations that are needed to sustain themselves as adults.”

The auction and banquet will begin tonight at 6 PM and is available to the public with purchase of a ticket.

The University of Alabama at Birmingham is about to launch a pair of studies to determine the effectiveness of using marijuana to treat seizures.

UAB is studying the use of cannabidiol or CBD oil in adults at UAB Hospital as well as a pediatric study of the oil at Children's of Alabama.

Governor Bentley signed legislation in April allowing UAB to study the drug. The FDA approved the studies in December. Anecdotal evidence indicates the oil effectively treats seizures without getting the patients high.

UAB officials say 50 adults and 50 children will be enrolled in the studies with a referral from their primary neurologists. Officials say they'll consider expanding the study if more than 100 people qualify to participate.