Two hundred thirty two years ago, the U.S. Constitution received ratification by the ninth of 13 states, sealing it as our nation’s guiding document. In the years since, our nation’s people have seen fit to tweak the constitution several times; the most recent, Amendment XXVII, staying changes in compensation of federal lawmakers until the following election, was proposed with the Bill of Rights in the 18th century and mulled over for more than 200 years before its 1992 ratification.
In contrast, Alabama’s bloated 1901 Constitution has been amended 946 times in 119 years, and on Nov. 3, voters will be asked to approve a handful of additional amendments. One of those, Amendment 4, would finally address at least one component of the constitution’s myriad embarrassments.
Amendment 4 could allow the state’s Legislative Reference Service to comb through the document and eliminate racist language that dates to the constitution’s origin. The proposed changes would go to the legislature; if approved, they would be put before the voters. The Alabama Informed Voter Act of 2016 would ensure that the ballot explains in plain language exactly what voters are asked to do. The people of Alabama would have the last word.
That would be a good start on repairing our state’s constitution, although a significant overhaul granting home rule to local governments, eliminating the requirement for many local matters to seek legislative approval and statewide support through constitutional amendment.
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