Our View: Judge Roberts chose wrong side in Board of Education caseBy CW Editorial Board | 09/29/2016 10:53am
There are judges that history will always be kind to. Nine brave votes in Brown v. Board of Education reversed a century of horrific precedent and freed our nation from the shackles of state-sanctioned segregation. Just this past year, the United States Supreme Court ruled once and for all that love is love, and that members of the LGBTQ+ community are entitled to the same constitutional rights as every other American citizen. Alabama has rarely been on the right side of these issues; our state’s very real judicial decisions regarding lynchings immortalized in the fictitious "To Kill a Mockingbird" plagued us for decades under Jim Crow and George Wallace. Roy Moore, our current Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, has been confirming our state’s worst stereotypes for the majority of this millennium, and shows no signs of stopping.
This week, a judge had the opportunity to put the smallest of dents in that precedent – to make a decision that would hold one of the most perplexing institutions in the state of Alabama even the slightest bit accountable for one of its many crimes.
Tuscaloosa County Circuit Court Judge Jim Roberts failed our community and our state in refusing to do so.
In one of the very rare cases of actual voter fraud in recent memory, the Machine provided limousine rides and drink tickets to students encouraged to vote for former SGA President Cason Kirby for Tuscaloosa County Board of Education. Kirby won his election over incumbent Kelly Horwitz by a margin of 416-329, but upon her challenge it was revealed that many of the students who voted did so using fraudulent addresses. Of those students' ballots, 159 were ruled invalid, and the three-year journey to this week’s decision began.
Judge Roberts inexplicably decided Tuesday not to accept written affidavits from 63 students who swore under oath that they voted for Kirby, and then denied to compel 21 students who refused to appear in court to attend, on the grounds that because he did not accept the affidavits their votes would not have affected the outcome of the election. Once again, a Tuscaloosa official has turned a blind eye and given the green light for this inexcusable corruption to continue.
Kelly Horwitz lost. So did Atticus Finch. The Machine won, as they usually do, but it would be a misdirection of our frustration to blame them for this outcome. Most of the students who voted illegally did so with no real knowledge of their actions; many were underclassmen who were simply enticed by drink specials or pressured by their peers. And even the Machine representatives – college students who meet in basements and make decisions about who will be elected to what, are nowhere near as guilty as the men in black robes who allow them to. Justice ultimately lost today, and Judge Roberts should be ashamed of himself.
Our View is the consensus of The Crimson White Editorial Board. Opinions Editor Kyle Campbell recused himself due to personal involvement.