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  • Writer's pictureDonald V. Watkins

Alabama’s Ugly History of Discrimination Against Its Marginalized Citizens is Repeating Itself. This Time It Targets LGBTQ Americans

By: Donald V. Watkins

Copyrighted and Published on June 22, 2024

IMAGE: Rosa Parks' arrest sparked the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott.

An Editorial Opinion


On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Liles Burke issued an Order directing a targeted group of attorneys for LGBTQ litigants to submit "copies of any public statements they or their organizations have made about [pending] attorney-disciplinary proceedings [in his court] " by 5 p.m. today (Saturday). Those statements include “press releases, website content, social media posts, interviews, public speeches, newsletters, and public emails” relating to a three-judge panel’s ruling that was issued following its Star-Chamber "inquiry" into allegations of “judge-shopping” by the targeted attorneys.


For the reasons explained in my June 21, 2024, Op-Ed article, Judge Liles is a judicial bigot on steroids.


Liles' new Order is much like the one issued in the case of NAACP v. Alabama ex rel. Patterson, 357 U.S. 449 (1958). In that case, the state of Alabama sued the NAACP in the aftermath of the Montgomery bus boycott (December 5, 1955 to December 20, 1956). The NAACP was actively supporting Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other leaders and participants in the boycott.


To crush the boycott, the racist trial judge sided with racist Alabama Attorney General John Patterson during a Star-Chamber hearing (without the NAACP present) and ordered the NAACP to bring certain books, documents and papers into court on a certain date for inspection by Patterson. Of course, Patterson was seeking to wipe out NAACP-backed civil rights activism in Alabama.


Following the hearing, the trial judge ordered the NAACP to produce the following documents:

"2. All lists, documents, books, and papers, addresses and dues paid of all present members in the State of Alabama of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Incorporated. . . . .


8. All lists, books, and papers showing the names and addresses of all officers, agents, servants and employees in the State of Alabama of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Inc."


The NAACP refused to produce these documents and was promptly held in contempt of court. The judge imposed a $10,000 fine on the NAACP, which eventually increased to $100,000. On appeal, the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed this ruling.


The NAACP appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which decided the case on the merits in favor of the NAACP and reversed the contempt judgment in the 1958 landmark ruling in NAACP v. Alabama.


Judge Burke is leading the same kind of misguided anti-civil rights crusade that the trial judge led in the NAACP case. Both judges issued the same kind of production order for the same reason – to quash a budding civil rights movement in Alabama. Both judges readily demonstrated their extreme judicial bigotry and tyranny against a marginalized group of citizens in Alabama society.


Sixty-nine years later, Alabama's ugly history of discriminating against its marginalized citizens is repeating itself. This time, the discrimination targets LGBTQ Americans and their legal counsel. This time, the proud ringleader of the judicial lynch mob is Judge Liles Burke.


Once again, a civil rights group in Alabama and its attorneys have been dragged back to 1950s-era judicial bigotry.


Of course, it is no coincidence that Judge Liles' latest round of extreme judicial tyranny is occurring during the LGBTQ community's celebration of Pride Month.


6 Comments

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salmawisoky85
Jun 25
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Who will touch Drift Boss 2024?

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han gu
han gu
Jun 24
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

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Donald V. Watkins
Donald V. Watkins
Jun 23

The Founding Fathers did not give federal judges like Liles Burke and the other three judges who form the Gang of Four lifetime tenure in their jobs just so they can judicially lynch attorneys for LGBTQ litigants. These judges enjoy lifetime tenure in their jobs so that they can stand tall and protect the Constitutional rights of marginalized Americans in the face of adverse political winds. Whenever they fall short of this mandate, it is a betrayal of their oath of office. When they become attack dogs for the ultra-right anti-LGBTQ crowd in Alabama, they have completely abandoned this sworn oath.

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Donald V. Watkins
Donald V. Watkins
Jun 22

If you represent plainiffs in civil rights cases in Alabama and win a lot of them for your clients, you are always subjected to threats of imprisonment and rampant judicial abuse in the court system. It goes with the territory.


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Donald V. Watkins
Donald V. Watkins
Jun 22

After my first experience with vicious racism in the "Heart of Dixie" and "Cradle of the Confederacy," I asked my mother, "Why do they hate us?" Her answer is the reason why I fight for other marginalized groups in America who deserve the full protection of our Constitution: https://www.donaldwatkins.com/post/why-do-they-hate-us

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Kamar Jones
Kamar Jones
Jun 26
Replying to

It is ridiculous that bank regulators would be upset that the only black-owned bank had 10% of the city's deposits and was giving a higher rate of return than the other money with other banks. The city is represented by far more than 10% of black people in the city, and the bank needs deposits to serve the community with lending opportunities that other banks will deny.

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