Cross Posted atLegal Schnauzer
Democrats in Alabama sent a resounding message last week withtheir surprising resolutionto a dispute over the nominee for a judicial seat in Jefferson County. We would suggest that President Barack Obama pay attention.
By choosing Elisabeth French over Nicole Gordon Still for the judicial nomination in Birmingham, the Alabama Democratic Executive Committee (ADEC)revealed a distastefor anyone with connections to the state's political and corporate elite. Because the decision involved a judgeship, the ADEC also seemed to be expressing its concern about the justice system--in Alabama and beyond.
The message, in our view, boils down to this: "We've seen our federal justice system used as a political weapon. We've seen corporate interests buy up our state justice system. Too many Democrats have stood by silently while this happened--and we are sick of it. We support judges who are not beholden to the business or legal establishment. We support judges who apply the law equally to all."
If Obama and other national Democrats ignore this message, they will do so at their peril. And we suspect they will pay a heavy price at the ballot box in November.
Alabama's mainstream press has tended to portray ADEC's decision as based on race. French is black and Still is white--and the nomination came open when Kenya Lavender Marshall, who is black and won the Democratic primary,had her law license suspendedover allegations from the Alabama State Bar that she had misappropriated some $30,000 from a client account.
But this is not the first time recently that Alabama Democrats have rejected a candidate who seemed too cozy with the state's elites. Just a few weeks back, Artur Davis was beaten soundly in the party's primary for governor. Davis, who is black, had sought support from the Business Council of Alabama and other corporate types. Still had been appointed to the judicial seat last June by GOP Governor Bob Riley, and we suspect that helped sink her chances with the Democratic committee.