Riley, who reportedly plans to seek the U.S. House seat being vacated by Spencer Bachus, wants two citizens arrested for--get this--practicing journalism.
The preceding paragraphs were not taken from The Onion. They also were not pulled from a document that dates to Josef Stalin's Soviet Union. They are for real, and they are happening right now in Karl Rove's Alabama. (What makes my home state "Karl Rove's Alabama"? The answer can be found in Joshua Green's definitive article on the subject, "Karl Rove In a Corner," from a 2004 issue of The Atlantic.)
Rove no longer presides over the White House, but Rob Riley's actions are glaring proof that Rovian arrogance and lawlessness still reign over Alabama and other deep-red states across the South.
Riley's father, two-term GOP governor Bob Riley, took office in 2002 on the "strength" of blatant election theft that Rove acolytes almost certainly engineered. Bob Riley also benefited from $20 million that GOP felon Jack Abramoff has admitted funneling into Alabama because a proposed education lottery from Democrat incumbent Don Siegelman posed a financial threat to Abramoff's Indian-gaming clients in neighboring Mississippi.
The skinny? Rob Riley is deeply connected to some of the most corrupt activities in modern American political history. So it should be no surprise that Riley objects to reporting that calls his "pro family" public stances into question. It also should be no surprise that Riley is trying to quash our reporting on the subject, especially now that Spencer Bachus has surprised many observers by deciding to abandon his safe Congressional seat.
How exactly is Rob Riley trying to circumvent the First Amendment and force our reporting out of public view? The latest salvo is found in a cover letter and proposed court order, dated October 7 and prepared under the name of Jay Murrill, an attorney in the Riley Jackson law firm. (See a copy of the cover letter and proposed order at the end of this post.)
The proposed order explicitly seeks to have my wife and me arrested if we failed to appear at a court hearing that was set for last Thursday (October 18) at the Shelby County Courthouse in Columbiana. The hearing was designed to hold us in contempt for refusing to abide by an unlawful preliminary injunction. Here is the key segment of the proposed order:
Pursuant to Ala. R. Civ. P. 70A(c)(2), Respondents [Mrs. Schnauzer and me] are hereby notified that failure to appear at the aforesaid hearing may result in an issuance of a writ of arrest pursuant to Ala. R. Civ. P. 70A(d) to compel the Respondents' presence.
Did we attend the hearing at Rob Riley's kangaroo court? No, we did not--and here are three reasons why:
* We have not been lawfully served with the summons and complaint, meaning the court has no jurisdiction over us. Shelby County Sheriff's deputy Mike DeHart "served" us during the course of an unconstitutional traffic stop, and service has been challenged as improper and invalid;
* We were not given lawful notice of a hearing on the preliminary injunction, meaning no such injunction currently exists under Alabama law;
* Such an injunction violates the "prior restraint" doctrine that forbids injunctions in defamation lawsuits. Prior restraint grew out of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and has only been around, in one form or another, for about 230 years.
In a semi-functional democracy, Rob Riley would be embarrassed to file such a proposed court order. Retired Circuit Judge Claud D. Neilson, who was appointed by the Alabama Supreme Court to hear this case, would be embarrassed to even think about granting it.
But this is Karl Rove's Alabama. Long-settled law and constitutionally guaranteed civil rights mean little or nothing here.
(To be continued)