Alabama Supreme Court Justice Scolds Liberal Lawyers for Using Woke Language

An Alabama Supreme Court justice has scolded liberal lawyers for using woke language in their filings with the court.  Lawyers for Tiara Young Hudson, represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, capitalized “Black” but not “white” and put pronouns in their signatures, an inappropriate attempt to influence the court according to the opinion.

According to,  “Hudson, who won an election for circuit court judge in Jefferson County before that judgeship was moved to Madison County, has filed a lawsuit to block the transfer. Hudson says the transfer violates the Alabama Constitution and maintains that only the Legislature has the authority to reallocate judgeships.”

“The decision to move the judgeship was made in June by the Judicial Resources Allocation Commission, which the Legislature created in 2017. The commission cited a caseload study that showed Madison County needed more judges and Jefferson County had a surplus.”

The opinion shares:


I write separately to explain my concerns with certain aspects of Tiara Young Hudson’s submissions to the trial court and to this Court.

As the main opinion makes clear, Hudson’s complaint states only one claim: a nondelegation challenge to the statute that authorizes the Judicial Resources Allocation Commission (“JRAC”) to create and eliminate judgeships. Hudson does not allege a violation of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, nor does she bring any claim for which racial discrimination (or any other type of discrimination) is an element. Yet the statements of fact in Hudson’s complaint and opening brief begin by highlighting the fact that Hudson is “a Black female.” C. 19; Hudson’s brief at 6. Hudson then goes on to describe the races of various people who are involved in the case, even though their races also have nothing to do with the legal claim stated in her complaint or the questions presented on appeal.

It appears that Hudson spends so much time focusing on race — her own race, the races of JRAC’s members, and the racial demographics of Jefferson and Madison Counties — to insinuate that JRAC’s decision to reallocate the Jefferson County judgeship to Madison County was motivated by bigotry rather than by objective consideration of the factors listed in § 12-9A-1(d), Ala. Code 1975. But Hudson stops short of actually arguing that point or presenting any evidence in support of it. On the contrary, Hudson’s counsel conceded below that JRAC’s reallocation decision was based on the race-neutral “fact that all the studies show that Madison County is most in need and Jefferson County was the least in need” of circuit judgeships based on the two counties’ respective caseloads. T. 27, C. 820. To turn around after making such a concession and insinuate that the reallocation decision was motivated by racism reveals, at a minimum, questionable professional judgment.

Hudson’s implicit accusations of racism are particularly puzzling given that her own filings use overtly biased language when referring to different racial groups. Those filings capitalize “Black” every time it appears but do not capitalize “white” anytime it appears, even when the two words appear side-by-side in the same sentence. See, e.g., Hudson’s brief at 6, 8; C. 6, 9, 11, 12, 19, 21. The persistence of this pattern suggests that it is not an accident but instead a deliberate choice, the effect of which is to signal that certain races deserve heightened respect while others do not.

That signaling may be fashionable in certain circles,4 but it has no place in our legal system. Our system of justice “is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.” Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, 559 (1896) (Harlan, J., dissenting). Displays of racial bias would be shameful no matter the source, but they are especially troubling coming from a legal organization (the Southern Poverty Law Center) that purports to advance racial equality. It should — but apparently does not — go without saying that the act of singling out certain races for special favor or disfavor does nothing to advance our nation’s shared commitment to “equality before the law.” Id. at 562.


Racialized language is not the only example of inappropriate material in Hudson’s brief. Hudson’s attorneys also chose to list their preferred personal pronouns in their briefs’ signature blocks, even though that information has no relevance to their client’s legal arguments or to the attorneys’ ability to practice before the Court. I don’t recall seeing this practice in any briefs previously filed with our Court, and I regard this novel use of the signature block as improper. Lawyers sign pleadings in order to verify those pleadings, not to convey biographical details about themselves.

The Alabama Rules of Appellate Procedure exempt “signature blocks” from a brief’s word count, see Ala. R. App. P. 28(j) and 32(c), based on the manifest presumption that signature blocks will be used only to convey information necessary to enable attorneys to receive correspondence and to verify the attorneys’ ability to practice before the Court (such as the attorneys’ names, bar numbers, email and physical addresses, and phone numbers). Extraneous information — including

One unfortunate consequence of the recent trend toward lawyer-driven litigation is that it tends to elevate ideological signaling over substantive legal arguments. This case is an example. The legal disputes here are about subject-matter jurisdiction and nondelegation principles; they have nothing to do with race, sex, or professions of gender identity.

The full decision is available here.

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Thanks for sharing!