(See previous post here for background story).
It has been decided. There will be no ruling on whether a suspended law license still meets the requirements of the Alabama constitution that a judge be “licensed to practice law” in the state. Kenya Lavender Marshall’s nomination to the ballot by the Democratic party has been withdrawn.
But Nicole Gordon Still will not be on it, either. At least not representing the Democratic or Republican party. Who knows, maybe she’ll qualify and run as an independent.
The State Democratic Executive Committee elected Elizabeth French to represent the party on the ballot. French did not run in the primary, but she had the one qualification most sought by the party–she is black. Or, at least half-black, like Obama. One wonders: Is this how politics in America will resolve the racial issue going forward? Will mixed-race heritage one day be required in order to hold elective office?
Even The Birmingham News, that routinely tries to pretend race has no bearing on anything anymore in Birmingham, tersely admitted that “Race played a role in the debate over who should be the Democratic nominee.” For the News, that’s tantamount to admitting that a stinky smell wafting through the pews in church really was the result of someone letting one rip.
The Jefferson County Democratic Executive Committee had narrowly (presumably along racial lines) voted to recommend Still be awarded the nomination. But French was nominated to represent the party on the ballot by Joe Reed, vice-chairman of the State Democratic Executive Committee, which overruled the Executive Committee of Jefferson County. Reed is also head of the Alabama Democratic Conference, a black political group.
Nicole Still sounded off, deploring the process as illegitimately subverting the will of the people, and slapping French broadside with accusations that she used personal relationships fostered through her support of Still to be “handpicked for this judgeship without ever going through the election process”. Which, of course, is what Still did in getting appointed to the post in the first place.
I suppose the State Bar sort of comes out smelling less bad in it having only suspended Marshall for four years, instead of the customary disbarment that comes with “misappropriating” client funds in the amount of $30,000. The black caucus decided that it was politically infeasible to fight for Marshall’s appointment in light of what she’d done. But I know a good trial lawyer could have easily contested the meaning of “licensed to practice law” had there been the political will to do so. Judges don’t have active law licenses while on the bench. What’s different about that than a suspended license? In each case, they are still licensed to practice law, just not actively.
Now that it’s over, or it seems over, at least we can bask in the clarity provided by the conflict. Does anyone really believe anymore that Obama’s election ushered in a post-racial age in America? In fact, if anything, politics are now uber-racial, even if most of the racial jockeying is done behind the scenes. Instead of being a casualty, truth is often the first fruits of a hostile conflict.