Victoryland: 'Ala. has one branch of government: King Riley '

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Victoryland issued a response to Friday's Ala. Supreme Court unanimous ruling that removed a lower court's temporary restraining order that protected the gaming facility from being raided. Here's what they had to say:

Based upon the ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court today, Alabama no longer has three branches of government– it has one– King Riley. The Alabama Supreme Court has now ruled that the Attorney General, the District Attorneys, Sheriffs, and the judges of Alabama do not answer to the people of Alabama who elected them– but to King Riley.

Without a single dissenting vote, the Alabama Legislature approved a referendum to allow the citizens of Macon County to vote on whether they wanted electronic bingo. In 2003, the citizens of Macon County overwhelmingly voted in favor of electronic bingo. The citizens of Macon County also elected their Sheriff, their District Attorney, and their local judges. The decision by the Supreme Court today effectively nullifies all of those votes. Today's ruling marks a sad and disturbing day for all citizens of Alabama. Riley's war against bingo is no longer about bingo; it is about the right and freedom of voters to make the decisions in this State.

The circumstances surrounding today's ruling also calls into question the integrity and independence of our judicial system. The Canons of Judicial Ethics command that a judge "should be unswayed by partisan interests, public clamor, or fear of criticism." These Canons forbid members of the Supreme Court from engaging in inappropriate communications concerning a case pending before it. For nearly a week leading up to the Supreme Court's opinion today, we heard from Republican insiders that Riley and others acting at his direction not only contacted members of the Supreme Court, but also influenced which Justice would be assigned to this case. The information we received was specific– that Governor Riley and his lawyers lobbied to have this case reassigned to Justice Murdock. The fact that Justice Murdock in fact authored the opinion today confirms that information.

Thomas Jefferson once said, "The way to have good and safe government is not to trust it all to one." The Supreme Court's opinion today, and the manner in which it was procured sends a clear signal–our government in Alabama is no longer good or safe. The fight is no longer about electronic bingo. We must now fight to protect our right to vote, to protect the separation of powers in our state government, and we must fight to protect the integrity of our judicial system. Today, we vow to take this fight to a higher court that is not tainted by the allegations of partisan politics and Riley's illegal influence. We will pursue any and all legal remedies to protect our employees and the critical services funded by electronic bingo in Macon County.

We also join in the call with others who have requested that the Alabama Attorney General and the United States Attorney convene a grand jury and investigate the circumstances under which this opinion and others was procured. Every Alabama citizen stands in harm's way when we give unchecked power to a governor who considers himself above the law.


A short time after Victoryland responded to the Supreme Court's ruling, so did Governor Bob Riley.

"This decision by the Supreme Court means that the law can be and will be equally enforced in every county in this State, including Macon County," said Governor Riley. "No longer can local elected officials protect gambling bosses from enforcement of the law."

"We have another unqualified victory in the Alabama Supreme Court for the Governor and his Task Force," said Task Force Commander John Tyson.  "We will take actions immediately to stop illegal gambling wherever it exists in Alabama, including in Macon County."

The Supreme Court noted that the Alabama Constitution gives the Governor the power to direct the Task Force to ensure that Alabama laws against slot machines are enforced.  The Court ruled that neither Attorney General King, Macon County District Attorney Jones, nor Macon County Sheriff Warren can override Governor Riley's determination that Alabama's laws against slot-machine gambling were not being adequately enforced in Macon County.  The Court stated, "we are unwilling to conclude that Governor Riley cannot, without exceeding any discretion on his part, employ Tyson and other members of the Task Force as he has."  The Court concluded that Tyson "is not wrongfully usurping the offices of District Attorney Jones, Sheriff Warren, or Attorney General King."

It was not immediately known when, or if, the Task Force on Illegal Gambling would raid Victoryland. WSFA 12 News will continue to follow this developing story.

INFORMATION SOURCE: Victoryland and Governor's office