Alabama court rejects challenge to Constitution

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 24, 2010

MONTGOMERY (AP) — The Alabama Supreme Court tossed out a lawsuit Friday claiming Alabama’s Constitution should be voided because it wasn’t properly ratified by voters in 1901.

The Supreme Court ruled that the nine African-American citizens bringing the suit didn’t have legal standing because they weren’t around to vote when the Constitution was ratified 109 years ago.

The suit was filed against the state attorney general and other officials.

It argued that the ratification vote was manipulated in 1901 to show that 12 predominantly African-American counties voted for the Constitution even though it was contrary to the interests of African-Americans. It cited prominent historians who agree it’s unlikely black citizens voted to reduce their rights.

The Supreme Court cited earlier court decisions saying, “The wrong to the ancestor is not a wrong to the descendants.”

The citizens’ attorney, Ed Gentle of Birmingham, said their goal was to correct “an illegitimate Constitution.” He said that could be done by a new ratification vote on the current Constitution with all its amendments or by writing a new Constitution.

But he said there is no new legal approach to take after the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“We end up having this wrong without a remedy,” he said.

A spokesman for Attorney General Troy King said he had no comment on winning the case.