Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall stood at his inauguration Monday and made a promise to Alabama.
“I will never use the law as a means to political ends,” he said. “Nor will I confuse the idea of law and the fact of power.”
Good thing he wasn’t under oath.
That evening a judge in Birmingham ruled null and void a 2017 law that made it illegal for anyone to remove or alter Confederate monuments in Alabama, even if they stood on land owned by a city that did not want them there.
By the next morning Marshall’s office had issued a statement assuring Alabamians that he would appeal, that he would work to force Birmingham and other cities to keep what Confederate apologists had erected.
Marshall will do everything in his power to make sure places like Birmingham and people like the descendants of slaves have no say in whether the monuments to the Confederate Lost Cause stand on their land and in their faces like a giant middle finger.
It’s just the law of the land, he can say. That’s his plausible deniability, for it is certainly within his power to fight with all his might. But make no mistake. Steve Marshall, Alabama’s reigning Panderer in Chief, couldn’t separate his idea of law from his quest for power with a pneumatic chest spreader.
But he would never use the law as a means to political ends. Right?
Except his whole time in office – when not dismantling a previously effective corruption unit to please Alabama’s most powerful corruptors – has been a search for political hot buttons to prove his worth conservatism.
This former Democrat, like a reformed smoker, must blow away the smoke.
So he used state resources to file a brief supporting Pensacola, Fla.’s right to keep a cross in a city park.
Because Alabama likes crosses.
And he used his office to join a few other AGs to support laws banning sanctuary cities. Which was another shot at Birmingham, and a political joyride.
And he was part of a group that filed a friend-of-the-court brief to fight a Baltimore law requiring pro-life clinics there to post signs telling clients that the facility does not provide abortions.
Because city ordinances in far away states are an all-you-can-eat buffet for Marshall’s appetite for pander.
He has criticized the U.S. Supreme Court for refusing to hear a California gun case, and he has called on Congress to fully fund a border wall “to protect Americans and uphold the rule of law.
He has scoured the country to tick all the boxes. Crosses, sanctuary cities, abortion, guns, a border wall.
Not because they affect Alabama, or its sovereignty. But because he thinks they make him look like a real Republican, and not just the opportunist he has come to be.
The monuments law fits right in his opportunistic wheelhouse. If you focus on that you will, perhaps, ignore that his office has made no real corruption cases outside some minor figures in Birmingham.
If you listen to his earnest defense of the monuments law – “by affixing tarps and placing plywood around the Linn Park Memorial such that it is hidden from view, the Defendants have ‘altered’ or ‘otherwise disturbed’ the memorial in violation of the letter and spirit of the Alabama Memorial Preservation Act” – you can forget that he fired Alabama’s top corruption fighter and cozied up to those who wanted Matt Hart gone.
Steve Marshall “will never use the law as a means to political ends.”
Yeah. Good thing he wasn’t under oath.