Southern Poverty Law Center

Suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore will appear before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary this afternoon.

Moore is facing judicial ethics violations that could result in his removal from the head of the Alabama Supreme Court. The charges stem from an order Moore gave the state's probate judges back in January encouraging them not to issue same-sex marriage licenses. That was in defiance of a U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage nationwide.

Kairos Center

New poverty statistics paint a sobering picture for the state of Alabama.

The nonprofit organization Alabama Possible recently released their 2016 State Poverty Data Sheet. It reveals more than 900 thousand Alabamians currently live in poverty. Though it’s an issue across the state, conditions are especially grim in Alabama’s Black Belt. In Perry County, for example, nearly half the county’s residents live below the poverty line.

Alabama’s Chief Justice could soon be kicked out of office, again, due to his defiance of a federal court order. APR’s Alex AuBuchon has more about the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission’s investigation.

The commission is investigating six counts of judicial ethics violations against Chief Justice Roy Moore. The charges stem from an order Moore issued in January instructing all of the state’s probate judges not to issue same-sex marriage licenses, defying a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The fate of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is with the state’s Judicial Inquiry Commission. The panel filed six counts of judicial ethics violations against Moore and suspended him from office pending an investigation.

The charges stem from an order he issued to all of the state’s probate judges instructing them not to issue same-sex marriage licenses. The order was issued in January, six months after and in direct defiance of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

The Alabama Senate has passed a Constitutional amendment reinforcing Alabama's position as a so-called "right-to-work" state. APR’s Stan Ingold has more.

Senators passed the amendment 25 votes to 9. Alabama voters will now have the chance to approve the amendment at the ballot box in November.

Right-to-work states prohibit companies from requiring workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment.

Alabama law already has the prohibition, but Republicans say adding the amendment to the state Constitution will give businesses additional assurances.

Governor Robert Bentley’s plan to construct four new prisons is moving on through the state legislature, but not without a few red flags. APR’s MacKenzie Bates explains.

The Senate Budget Committee sent Governor’s Bentley’s prison building plan to the full Senate. The committee approved the bill yesterday in wake of two violent uprisings at a South Alabama prison. Governor Bentley blames the incidents on overcrowding.

Senator Cam Ward says those situations show that the state desperately needs new prisons.

The Alabama House is debating on proposed legislation that would prevent cities from setting local minimum wages.

The Republican-backed bill is on the legislative fast track as the city of Birmingham seeks to expedite a minimum wage increase approved last year for all workers within the city limits.

Birmingham leaders sought to raise the city's hourly minimum wage to $10.10 by 2017 and planned to begin with an $8.25 minimum wage March 1.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has its own wish list for the current legislative session.

The SPLC’s 2016 Legislative Guide focuses on issues like education, economics and equal rights. The guide doesn't just outline problems; it also offers possible solutions.

Rhonda Brownstein is the legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center. She says more state money needs to be allocated to education, not jails.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley recently announced that he is suing the federal government over refugees settling in his state.

Governor Bentley argues the U.S. government hasn’t provided Alabama enough information about the refugees to be placed in the state. Bentley says he’s filing the lawsuit out of concern for the safety of Alabama’s residents.

Kristi Graunke is a senior supervising attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center. She says the federal government takes their vetting process seriously.

Federal prosecutors say Alabama’s probate judges should continue issuing same sex marriage licenses, despite the actions of the state’s chief justice. APR’s Pat Duggins spoke to one group that thinks Roy Moore should be kicked out of office, again.

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a complaint against Roy Moore with the state’s Judicial Ethics Panel. This comes after Moore suggested that probate judges defy the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same sex marriage.

Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore is once again suggesting that gay marriage is illegal in Alabama, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

Moore issued an administrative order yesterday advising probate judges not to issue licenses to same-sex couples. He says the state Supreme Court never lifted its directive from March advising judges to abide by the Alabama constitution.

Dothan’s police department is under scrutiny after a blog post alleged officers planted drugs and weapons on suspects for nearly a decade.

The Henry County Report, a blog run by the nonprofit Alabama Justice Project, claims the group obtained documents indicating more than a dozen officers on a special narcotics team routinely planted evidence in cases against young black men.

Jurors hearing the federal retrial of former Madison police officer Eric Parker will be back in court today for a fourth day of deliberations.

Jurors will return to court this morning after telling U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala they were once again unable to come to a unanimous decision in the civil rights case.

The judge is trying to avoid a second mistrial for Parker on charges of violating the rights of 58-year-old Sureshbhai Patel by using excessive force during a police stop in February. Parker's first trial ended in a hung jury.

Barry Electric Plant
Wikimedia

Alabama’s power plants are burning less coal and a lot more natural gas, and one group of scientists has taken notice.

The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report today analyzing each state’s current and future dependence on natural gas as a fuel source. Alabama was one of six states deemed at high risk of over-reliance in nearly every aspect of the study.

John Rogers is a senior energy analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists. He thinks power companies need to make smarter and more balanced investments, instead of going all-in on natural gas.

The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a former member of the Tuscaloosa Board of Education who says illegal votes cost her a 2013 re-election.

Kelly Horwitz says her opponent for a school board seat in 2013, Cason Kirby, benefited from illegal votes cast by members of University of Alabama fraternities and sororities. She claims some of those votes were the result of bribery, with Greek members pressuring classmates and offering free drinks or concert tickets to get people to vote.

Etowah County Detention Center
Hannah Rappleye / NBC News

In many respects, Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden, Alabama is just like any other county jail. But for 300 or so of the facility's occupants, it's a different story. They're not inmates, but immigrant detainees, and they're being held awaiting deportation. That arrangement prompted a legal complaint.

The federal government pays Etowah County and communities across the country to keep immigrant detainees under lock and key in local jails. Critics complain these locations are isolated and detainees are kept thousands of miles from friends and family.

Immigrant detainees at the Etowah County Detention Center are at the center of a civil rights complaint over abuse and visitation rights.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement holds an average of 300 foreign detainees in Etowah County awaiting deportation. The advocacy group Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement says there's evidence of widespread abuse at Etowah. They filed a formal complaint earlier this month.

Christina Mansfield is a co-founder of CIVIC. She says she heard reports of abuse on her first visit to the facility in 2013.

The Northwest Alabama Regional Airport Board is asking one of its airlines to stop serving the airport.

The request comes after several complaints of unsatisfactory performance by SeaPort Airlines in the Muscle Shoals airport.

Local media reports the airport board unanimously voted earlier this week to request that the airline voluntarily remove its service.

The Oregon-based airline began offering four daily flights from Muscle Shoals to Nashville in January, but reduced its flight schedule to one daily flight earlier this summer.

The Mobile County Commission is taking steps to protect the area’s primary source of drinking water. APR’s Pat Duggins reports it’s a land purchase around Big Creek Lake…

Mobile County wants to buy 200 acres around the Big Creek Lake watershed. The county has close to $400,000 in grants from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program to pay for the property.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service gave the County the go-ahead to make the purchase earlier this week. The goal is to protect the area around the lake, which is Mobile’s main source of water.

Alabama legislators are desperate to end a legislative session marked by frustration and disagreements over how to handle a gaping hole in the state's General Fund budget.

The Alabama Senate will vote today on a General Fund budget expected to include significant cuts after lawmakers failed to reach an agreement on new taxes or moving revenue from the state's education budget.

Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh says a special session to try and patch some of those budget holes is looming.

A federal judge has ruled once more that gays and lesbians have the right to marry in all Alabama counties, but placed her decision on hold until the U.S Supreme Court issues their ruling on same-sex marriage nationally.

U.S District Judge Callie Granade ruled yesterday saying once again that Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and ordered all probate judges to stop enforcing that ban. But her order won’t go into effect until a U.S. Supreme Court decision which is expected to be handed down sometime next month.

The City of Selma remembered the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” over the weekend. But today marks another milestone in the civil rights movement.

Saturday was the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” in 1965. Today marks 50 years since the second march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge called Turnaround Tuesday. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., led that protest himself, but turned back before state troopers could attack like they did just two days prior.

Selma city councilman Benny Lee Tucker was a teenager in 1965. He says he had a specific job during King’s march…

A coalition of civil rights organizations filed a motion asking a federal judge to order Alabama's probate judges to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The request will also add plaintiffs to a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state's gay marriage ban.

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.

Alabama became the 37th state to legalize same-sex marriage yesterday.

Couples throughout Alabama have been applying for – and receiving – marriage licenses. But some judges are refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, despite the threat of steep penalties.

Meredith Bagley and Alexandrea Davenport, both faculty at the University of Alabama, were married in Vermont five years ago, but they wanted to get an Alabama marriage license now that same-sex marriage is legal.

But when they went in to apply at the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse yesterday morning?

Same-sex marriage is officially legal in Alabama starting today, but Chief Justice Roy Moore is doing everything he can to stand in its way.

Moore issued a letter last night ordering all state probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He argues that the federal district court’s ruling does not trump state law.

Ben Cooper is the chairman of Equality Alabama, a volunteer organization defending LGBTQ rights in Alabama. We spoke with Cooper before the law took effect, and he said some of these challenges were expected.

  Governor Robert Bentley says there are no easy solutions to the state's budget and prison problems. Bentley, in his second inaugural address, said state leaders face tough decisions as they come into office for the next four years. However, Bentley said state leaders will not shrink away from the challenge.

     A budget shortfall and the state's severely overcrowded prisons are expected to be the biggest problems facing the Legislature when it convenes in March. The governor is expected to give his proposals when he gives his State of the State address in March.

     

Washington Post

Alabama prisons are changing the way razors are distributed.

The change comes from an agreement with lawyers for inmates suing the state over medical care.  Attorneys had accused the state of giving razor blades to inmates who were known to be suicidal or mentally ill, leading to repeated suicide attempts.

Florida Atlantic University

Alabama has agreed not to enforce a provision of the state's controversial immigration law that required the state to publish a list of people known to be unlawfully in the country.

Lawyers say they have reached a settlement agreement in the lawsuit challenging what critics called a "scarlet letter list."

The 2012 law required the state to publish a list of people living in the state illegally who have been arrested.

istockphoto

Advocacy groups say Alabama prisons are giving inmates virtually unlimited access to razors, a practice that's leading to deaths and injuries inside the lockups.

The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama Disabilities Advocacy Program asked a court Thursday to bar prisons from freely distributing razor blades to male inmates.

The groups are making the request on behalf of prisoners who've tried to kill themselves using the razors. They say razors are being distributed even after an inmate used one to kill himself at Limestone prison in 2011.

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