AL Supreme Court McInnish V Chapman, Justice Bolin concurrence opinion flawed, Status quo tradition and pass the buck, States control presidential election to electoral certification, Qualified candidates on ballot
“Why has Obama, since taking the White House, used Justice Department Attorneys, at taxpayer expense, to avoid presenting a legitimate birth certificate and college records?”…Citizen Wells
“Moore said he’s seen no convincing evidence that Obama is a “natural born citizen” and a lot of evidence that suggests he is not.”…Judge Roy Moore interview by WND
“Why does a judge swear to discharge his duties agreeably to the
constitution of the United States, if that constitution forms no
rule for his government? if it is closed upon him, and cannot be
inspected by him?”… Marbury versus Madison
I still do not know how to take the concurrence opinion from Justice Bolin in the AL Supreme Court McInnish V Chapman decision.
It is still a bit surreal.
On the one hand, Justice Bolin agrees that the disired result is qualified candidates with any difficiencies discovered by the state. I.E. an ounce of
prevention is worth a pound of cure. He also states that the Alabama legislature should pass laws to facilitate this.
On the other hand, he (in sync with most of the nation) passes the buck, abrogating the responsibility of the state of AL to place a qualified candidate on
the ballot. This is in direct contradiction to the US Constitution as well as federal and state election laws. This is well clarified by Chief Justice Moore.
Most law school graduates are intelligent and take a rigorous course of study.
Perhaps all do not take logic 101.
I will address the “High spots” of what Justice Bolin wrote and why I believe that he erred.
“I respectfully disagree with Chief Justice Moore’s dissent to the extent that it concludes that the Secretary of State presently has an affirmative duty to
investigate the qualifications of a candidate for President of the United States of America before printing that candidate’s name on the general-election
ballot in this State. I fully agree with the desired result; however, I do not agree that Alabama presently has a defined means to obtain it.”
The following AL election statute seems clear to me.
Only qualified candidates to be listed on ballots.
The name of no candidate shall be printed upon any official ballot used at any primary election unless such person is legally qualified to hold the office
for which he or she is a candidate and unless he or she is eligible to vote in the primary election in which he or she seeks to be a candidate and possesses
the political qualifications prescribed by the governing body of his or her political party.”
“The evidence suggests that the Secretary of State had expressed to the plaintiffs and their representatives well prior to the primary and as early as February 2, 2012, that she had no duty to investigate the eligibility qualifications 3 of a presidential candidate. Barack Obama was nominated as
his party’s presidential candidate at the Democratic National Convention on September 5, 2012. For this election, ballots were required to be printed and delivered to the absentee election manager of each county by at least September 27, 2012. See § 17-11-12, Ala. Code 1975. The plaintiffs did not
file their petition challenging Barack Obama’s ballot access until October 11, 2012, approximately eight months after being apprised of the Secretary of State’s position that she had no affirmative duty to investigate and two weeks after the ballots were to be printed and delivered to the various
counties. The failure by the plaintiffs to at least file their petition challenging ballot access during the intervening time between Barack Obama’s nomination as his party’s presidential candidate and the time in which the ballots were due to be printed and delivered to the various counties constitutes, I believe, “inexcusable delay” on the part of the plaintiffs. The prejudice that would have ensued from such a late challenge, if successful, would have been
twofold: first, assuming it could have been accomplished from a practical standpoint, the reprinting and distribution of general-election ballots would have come, at that late date, at great financial cost to the State; and second, and just as important, the reprinted ballots would differ from absentee
ballots already sent to the members of our military and other citizens overseas. This would not be a proper way to conduct such an important election.”
Justice Bolin seems more concerned about a CYA for the Secretary of State than in upholding the constitution.
From the McInnish V Chapman Writ of Mandamus.
“13. On February 2,2072 Plaintiff MCINNISH, together with his attorney and others, visited the Office of the Secretaryo f State,a t which the Hon. Emily
Thompson,Deputy Secretaryo f State,speaking in the absence of and for the Secretary of State, s tated that her office would not investigate the legitimacy of
any candidate ,thus violating her duties under the U.S. and Alabama Constitutions.”
The AL Secretary of State’s office was forewarned.
If the AL Secretary of State had reacted in a responsible, constitutional way, minimally the Attorney General could have been consulted and simple steps
taken to remedy the situation. The plaintiffs were forced to file the Writ of Mandamus. The state of urgency was created by the state of AL. Justice Bolin
attempts to lay the blame on the plaintiffs.
None of the concerns Justice Bolin stated related to upholding the constitution.
“This would not be a proper way to conduct such an important election.”
What about the thousands of disenfranchised voters casting votes for a disqualified candidate?
“Moving beyond the merits of the matter before us, and
with due regard to the vital importance to the citizenry of
the State of Alabama that the names of only properly qualified
candidates appear on a presidential-election ballot for
election to the highest office in our country, I write
specially to note the absence of a statutory framework that
imposes an affirmative duty upon the Secretary of State to
investigate claims such as the one asserted here, as well as
a procedure to adjudicate those claims. The right of a lawful
and proper potential candidate for President to have ballot
access must be tempered and balanced against a clear process
for removal of an unqualified candidate. Nothing in this
process should be left to guesswork, or, with all proper
respect, to unwritten policies of the Secretary of State, and
certainly not without a disqualified candidate having a clear
avenue for judicial review consistent with the time
constraints involved and due-process considerations.”
Nothing in this process should be left to guesswork ???
That is exactly the situation we had in 2008 and 2012. The states abrogating their responsibilities with the last check of checks and balances being the
certification of electoral votes by congress. Congress failed in their duty despite being notified.
Talk about guesswork!
“The general duties and scope of the Secretary of State’s
office are codified in § 36-14-1 et seq., Ala. Code 1975.
Section 17-1-3, Ala. Code 1975, provides that the Secretary of
State is the chief elections official in the State and, as
such, shall provide uniform “guidance” for election
activities. It is, however, a nonjudicial office without
subpoena power or investigative authority or the personnel
necessary to undertake a duty to investigate a nonresident
candidate’s qualifications, even if such a duty could properly
What is his point? There were multiple avenues open to the Secretary of State. The AL Attorney General could have been queried and if necessary a
clarification from the courts. The Secretary of state “shall provide uniform ‘guidance'” and “Only qualified candidates to be listed on ballots.” Do your job
and let others do theirs. The common sense analogy is from the business world. Managers are responsible but delegate or refer tasks to the appropriate
“These sections, when read together, require only that the
Secretary of State certify and include on the general-election
ballot those presidential candidates who have been nominated
by their respective parties following that party’s national
convention and who are otherwise qualified to hold the office
of President. However, nothing in the express wording of
these statutory provisions imposes upon the Secretary of State
the duty to affirmatively investigate the qualifications of a
presidential candidate. Consistent with this conclusion is
Op. Att’y Gen. No. 1998-00200 (August 12, 1998), which states:
“The Secretary of State does not have an
obligation to evaluate all of the qualifications of
the nominees of the political parties and
independent candidates for state offices prior to
certifying such nominees and candidates to the
probate judges pursuant to [§ 17-9-3, Ala. Code
1975]. If the Secretary of State has knowledge
gained from an official source arising from the
performance of duties prescribed by law, that a
candidate has not met a certifying qualification,
the Secretary of State should not certify the
“If the Secretary of State has knowledge gained from an official source arising from the performance of duties prescribed by law, that a candidate has not
met a certifying qualification, the Secretary of State should not certify the candidate.”
He just made my point!
“Rather, the Secretary of State contends that the task of ensuring a candidate’s qualifications is left to the leadership of that candidate’s respective political party, a less than ideal procedure for all challengers because of its partisan nature. See generally Knight v. Gray, 420 So. 2d 247
(Ala. 1982) (holding that the Democratic Party had the authority to hear pre-primary challenges to the political or legal qualifications of its candidates).”
Here is the common thread with most states. Tradition within and without state laws wields more power than it should. State officials are used to getting
their cues from political parties. This is written into state laws. However, political parties have no particular consititutional power or responsibility.
“Courts in other states have tended to agree that the investigation of eligibility requirements of a particular candidate is best left to the candidate’s political party. In Keyes v. Bowen, 189 Cal. App. 4th 647, 117 Cal. Rptr. 3d 207 (2010), the plaintiffs brought an action against California’s
Secretary of State and others, alleging that there was reasonable doubt that President Obama was a natural-born citizen, as is required to become President of the United States (U.S. Const., Art. II, § 1) and that the Secretary of State had a ministerial duty to verify that President Obama met the constitutional qualifications for office before certifying him for inclusion on the ballot. The trial court entered a judgment against the plaintiffs, concluding that the
Secretary of State was required to see that state election laws were enforced, but that the plaintiffs had failed to identify a state election law imposing a duty upon the Secretary of State to demand documentary proof of birthplace from presidential candidates. Id. The plaintiffs appealed.”
He quotes a CA ruling (speaks for itself).
2 wrongs don’t make a right.
Finally lucidity and responsibility.
“Looking forward, I would respectfully call upon the legislature to provide legislation that imposes this duty upon the Secretary of State and to give that office the authority and tools necessary to compel the compliance by a candidate, and that candidate’s party, upon penalty of disqualification.”
“However, it should not be necessary to rely on a post-election Congressional remedy if it can be proven before the election that the candidate is not qualified. The Secretary of State should have the written mandate to determine requisite qualifications, and a disqualified candidate should have a defined path of expedited judicial review.”
“There are obvious reasons why such post-election challenges would be undesirable. As Rick Hasen has argued in Beyond the Margin of Litigation, pre-election litigation is generally preferable to post-election litigation. It is generally better to resolve disputes before an election, allowing problems to be avoided in advance rather than putting courts in the difficult position of cleaning up the mess afterwards. This is particularly true in the context of a challenge to a presidential candidate’s qualifications. In the event that a candidate is deemed ineligible, the party could still put up a substitute.
“Of course, it is up to states–and, in particular, to state legislatures–to define the rights and remedies available in cases where a presidential candidate is alleged to be ineligible. There is certainly no constitutional requirement that the state provide either a pre-election remedy
(such as denial of ballot access) or a post-election remedy (like an order invalidating election results) for such disputes. But there remains no
constitutional bar to such state-law remedies. In fact, such remedies would seem to fall squarely within what Article II contemplates in leaving it to
state legislatures to define the manner by which presidential electors are appointed.”
Alabama Supreme Court ruling.