Supreme Court appeal

of alcohol ruling at Samford Thursday

The Alabama Supreme Court will meet in a special session at Samford University on Thursday, Nov. 6, at 9 a.m. to hear the appeal of the court ruling that cleared the way last year for alcohol referenda held and passed in June 2014 in Oneonta and Blountsville. Alcohol is already being sold in stores in both municipalities.

Cleveland and Locust Fork voted in municipal option (wet/dry) referenda in the general election yesterday. Results are reported elsewhere in this edition.

The court, meeting at Samford’s Wright Fine Arts Center, will consider Judge Steven King’s ruling last year that the law excluding Blount County municipalities with more than 1000 residents from voting in a municipal option referendum was unconstitutional. Sixty-four of Alabama’s 67 counties at that time could, by law, hold such elections. King’s ruling cleared the way for the remaining three, including Blount, to do so.

Two county residents, local ministers Larry Gipson and Glenn Bynum, filed an appeal to the ruling on Dec. 1, 2013. They filed the appeal on behalf of Keep Blount County Special, a group of citizens opposed to legalizing liquor sales in the county. 

Counsel Eric A. Johnson, representing the complainants, is expected to argue that a portion of the law cannot be “severed” from the act creating the original municipal option and declared unconstitutional. The entire act would have to be stricken.

If the Supreme Court sides with Johnson, every municipality in Alabama that has voted to legalize alcohol sales under the act could be forced to rescind its actions allowing alcohol sales. Oneonta city manager Ed Lowe estimated in September that as many as 30 towns statewide could be affected.