“Not as bad as Alabama” is hardly the same thing as “good.”

So, for amusement I will periodically go catch up with my reading on the US-centric but still wildly funny law blog, “Lowering the Bar”. Recently they have been covering the case of a Judge in Texas who, because of a rarely-remembered but still operant clause in the Texas state constitution, had the misfortune of accidentally resigning the judgeship he won in an election only three months before.

Setting aside the fact that electing judges is very, very bad and we should stop, this remains a terribly funny situation to me. Oh, but it got funnier, because while I’ve actually engaged in comparative constitutional study and looked at different pieces of Texas’ constitution before, I’d never read the whole thing and didn’t appreciate just how easily reading the thing can be accurately compared to sucking on a mouthful of coal ash. But for those like me who didn’t appreciate this fact, Kevin Underhill, the author of Lowering the Bar, is here to help:

Let’s be clear: the Texas constitution does suck. As the letter points out, it’s 87,000 words long, has been amended 491 times, and has been described by a well-respected judge as “ungainly,” “convoluted,” and “a top-to-bottom mess.”

But how does Alabama get dragged into all this? Well, unlike the Texas constitution I had never read a word of the Alabama constitution that I can remember (however getting drunk and reading constitutions out loud to friends is something I’ve done for fun in the past, so…maybe?) and am thus not the right person to enlighten you. And yet, Kevin! Kevin is still here to help! Let’s pick up at the exact point where I left off the last quote to see if maybe we can find out how Alabama got mixed up in this discussion about Texas judges and their resignations:

Is [the Texas state constitution] the worst state constitution in America? Oh my God no, because nothing compares to the Alabama constitution, which is more than four times as long (about 380,000 words) and has 928 amendments (unless there have been more since I made fun of it last November) tacked onto its 287 sections. But “not as bad as Alabama” is hardly the same thing as “good.”

And here I am being informed that NY Times v Sullivan notwithstanding I’m not allowed to make any joking references to the fact that the worst state constitution belongs to the same state that elected Roy Moore the Chief Justice of the state supreme court, then booted him for office for malfeasance and ethical violations, then elected him Chief Justice again. Surely there is no non-defamatory reason to suggest a correlation between a state creating the worst constitution ever and a state electing the worst supreme court justice ever. Thus, I assure you, I will not do so.




  1. says

    As Howard Zinn said, “I’d say ‘the worst American politicans come from Alabama’ but then there might be someone here from Tennesee who’d want to fight me.”

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