U.S. Supreme Court

Supreme Court

An Alabama woman who had her adoption rights stripped by the state Supreme Court is now turning to the highest court in the nation.

The woman identified as V.L. adopted her long-term partner’s three children in Georgia. When the couple later split, the biological mother prevented V.L. from seeing her children. V.L. asked Alabama's Supreme court for help. Instead, the justices invalidated her adoptions.

Cathy Sakimura is an attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and represents the woman. She says what Alabama’s Supreme Court did was unprecedented.

Barry Electric Plant

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.

Elmore County Courthouse
courthouselover / Flickr

A probate judge in Alabama is asking the state's Supreme Court for a way out of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Elmore County Probate Judge John Enslen filed a petition earlier this week saying the federal government should issue same-sex marriage licenses, not state or county offices. Enslen says the federal government is responsible for upholding and enforcing other laws created at the federal level.

The fight over political redistricting in Alabama is headed back to federal court.

A three-judge panel will hear arguments later today in Montgomery over whether legislators relied too much on race when they drew legislative district lines.

Same Sex Adoption Fight

Jul 18, 2015


Since the U.S. Supreme Court marriage ruling, same sex couples in Alabama are seeking to be recognized as parents to the children they are raising.

A judge last week approved one of the first adoptions in the state in the wake of the marriage ruling. 

Tracy Haraway, of Huntsville, gave birth to twin boys fifteen months ago. However her wife, Ashley, was not recognized as a legal parent until the adoption.

Tracy Haraway says the adoption gives her peace of mind that her spouse is a recognized parent and can make legal decisions for their children.

The United States Supreme Court says same sex marriages are legal nationwide, but marriage licenses aren't going out yet in Tuscaloosa County.

Dozens of activists gathered outside the County Courthouse to celebrate the decision. But inside the courthouse, clerks had no plans to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

Tuscaloosa County Probate Judge Hardy McCollum says he's following the law...

Today’s Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage is being both welcomed and criticized in Alabama. The nation’s highest court declared that state bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional, and that existing marriages have to be recognized nationwide. Many officials including Pike County Probate Judge Wes Allen say they oppose same-sex marriage and are resisting the implementation.

The ruling is being celebrated by couples APR News has been following for months.

First gay marriage licenses issued in Alabama

Jun 26, 2015

Some Alabama counties have started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

A supervisor in Mobile County's probate court, Russ Davidson, said the court issued its first same-sex marriage license to two women Friday after months of refusing to sell marriage licenses to anyone.

The issuance came within hours of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling making gay marriage legal across the United States.

The United States Supreme Court upheld a ruling yesterday declaring that tax subsidies for health care from the federal government are constitutional.

In Alabama, that’s good news for more than 130,000 people that purchased insurance through the Affordable Care Act. In most cases, the federal tax breaks on those plans were what made them affordable enough to purchase.

There are only two and a half weeks left in the current Supreme Court session, and Alabamians are still waiting on a definitive answer regarding same-sex marriage.

Gay marriage is currently legal in Alabama, but a state Supreme Court ruling has ordered all county probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. U.S. District Judge Callie Granade passed a ruling that would force those probate judges to begin issuing licenses, but that won’t go into effect until after the Supreme Court rules.

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 Alabama House Health Committee recently approved a series of abortion restrictions that opponents say would ban most abortions in the state.

The committee approved three separate pieces of legislation, including one bill that would prohibit abortion providers from performing an abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected.

Bill sponsor Terri Collins says the end of a person's life is defined by the absence of a heartbeat, so it makes sense that the beginning of life should be defined by the presence of one.

After voters rejected a tax hike proposal last month, the Baldwin County Commission and Baldwin County School Board are looking for more input.

There will be a joint public meeting this evening to begin the process of moving forward from the referendum that would have helped pay for a 10 year, $350 million capital construction project.

Charles Gruber is the chairman of the Baldwin County Commission. He believes the referendum was shot down by voters because the public was not able to voice any concerns about the tax.

The U.S. Supreme Court began to hear arguments yesterday as to whether state bans on same-sex marriage are federally constitutional.

In Tuscaloosa, advocates gathered in the shadow of Denny Chimes at the University of Alabama for a candlelight vigil in support of gay marriage and gay rights in general.

Meredith Bagley is a communications professor at the University of Alabama and one of the organizers of last night's event. She explains why they chose a candlelight vigil.

Alabamians are remembering the April 27th, 2011 tornadoes that rampaged across the state.

Now, the National Weather Service in Alabama is using a new severe weather warning system.

Stephen Latimer is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Huntsville. He says this new system provides more details about the storms.

A federal judge has issued a temporary restraining order against a company accused of retaliating against whistleblowing workers in Selma.

Workers in a Selma automotive parts plant have complained about conditions in the plant and were involved in a federal investigation.

An order filed by the U.S. Department of Labor Wednesday in U.S. District Court Wednesday blocks the Lear Corporation and Renosol Seating from terminating, suspending, suing, threatening or retaliating against current or former employees.

Alabama Governor Robert Bentley and Georgia Governor Nathan Deal met recently to discuss a long-running dispute over water.

The U.S. Supreme Court is preparing to hear a case out of Florida that seeks to limit Georgia's water withdrawals from the Chattahoochee River. Alabama officials are also concerned about Georgia's water use. Residents and officials in both Alabama and Florida argue that Georgia withdraws too much of the river upstream, which impacts wildlife and industry downstream.

Joyce Hardin Garrard
Eric T. Wright, AP

A jury will debate whether to recommend the death penalty today after convicting the woman accused of running her granddaughter to death of capital murder.

The panel will hear additional evidence for sentencing today as they decide between execution or life in prison without parole for 49 year old grandmother Joyce Hardin Garrard. The judge has the final say.

The prosecution is seeking the death penalty. They argue Garrard brutally forced the girl to run for hours as punishment until she collapsed into seizures.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is asking U.S. District Judge Callie Granade to keep gay marriage in the state on hold.

Strange filed a motion yesterday asking Granade to delay any more gay marriage decisions until the U.S. Supreme Court rules later this year.

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.

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals all but ensured gay marriage in Alabama yesterday.

The court announced that they will not act on any appeals until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on same-sex marriage nationally.

In Alabama, that means judges can begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses on Monday, assuming the U.S. Supreme Court doesn't issue a stay before then.

Tuscaloosa is competing with nearly 70 other communities for part of a half-billion dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

City officials and residents gathered inside the Rosedale Court Apartment complex yesterday to identify what they see as important points. Members of the recovery operations for Tuscaloosa asked people about resiliency, at-risk populations and overall impacts that could lead to the city winning part of the grant.

Tuscaloosa City Councilor Harrison Taylor says it is all about being prepared.


Once-powerful Democrats are challenging legislative districts drawn by Alabama Republicans that have helped shrink Democratic representation to just eight seats in the state Senate - all of them from districts in which African-Americans are a majority.

Black Democrats say the GOP did it by misusing a landmark voting-rights law, intended to ensure the right to vote for southern blacks, to instead limit their voting strength. They argue that Republicans relied too heavily on race to draw new electoral maps following the 2010 census.


The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a legal challenge to Alabama's property tax system.

The Supreme Court's decision Monday means one of the nation's lowest property tax rates remains intact.

Attorneys representing families in Lawrence and Sumter counties had challenged the fairness of Alabama's property taxes, particularly the low rates on timber and farm property. They lost in U.S. District Court and at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Then they asked the Supreme Court to review the case.


  A Catholic broadcaster is asking for a Supreme Court injunction as it pursues a lawsuit against requiring employers to include contraception in their health care coverage.

A federal judge dismissed the suit filed by the Eternal Word Television Network on June 18. The network is planning an appeal, but says it needs a Supreme Court injunction before a July 1 deadline for complying with the national health care law.


The Supreme Court has declined to disturb the conviction of former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy on bribery and fraud charges.

The justices had no comment Monday on their order rejecting Scrushy's appeal of his 2006 conviction for arranging $500,000 in donations to former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman's lottery campaign. In return, Siegelman appointed Scrushy to a state hospital regulatory board. Scrushy argued that he should get a new trial because of judicial and juror bias.

Executive Office of the President of the United States / Wikimedia Commons

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is calling attention to an Alabama law that allows judges to impose death sentences after juries have voted to send defendants to prison for life.

Sotomayor and Justice Stephen Breyer were the only two justices who voted Monday to hear an appeal from a death row inmate who was convicted of killing a Montgomery, Ala., police officer. Sotomayor took the unusual step of issuing a dissent from the court's order rejecting the appeal of defendant Mario Woodward.

Wikimedia Commons

The newest member of the U.S. Supreme Court will address law students at the University of Alabama.

Associate Justice Elena Kagan has accepted an invitation to speak at the law school in Tuscaloosa next week on Oct. 4.

Kagan will speak as part of a lecture series named for retired U.S. District Judge W. Harold Albritton, who helps lure justices to Alabama and whose family funds their visits.

President Barack Obama appointed Kagan to the Supreme Court in 2010. She previously served as U.S. solicitor general.

Wikimedia Commons

The Alabama county at the center of the Supreme Court's decision on voting rights is praising the decision.

Shelby County attorney Butch Ellis says the ruling Tuesday will save local and state governments time and money without hurting the cause of voting equality.

Ellis says he's "elated" with the ruling, in which the court said a key part of the law is invalid until it's updated by Congress.

The justices set aside a part of the landmark law that requires federal approval for changes to election practices in the South and some other areas.

Ryan Vasquez

All year long here on Alabama Public Radio, we’re looking at the 50th anniversary of some of the pivotal moments in the Civil Rights Era. Times of have changed for the better since 1963, but have they changed so much that we can move on from laws meant to protect minorities. Shelby County is challenging a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 saying it’s no longer needed. Today Mason Davis is an accomplished lawyer in Birmingham, but in 1958 he was just a young law student trying to register to vote in Alabama.