Bynum v. City of Oneonta et al.Annotate this Case
Glenn Bynum and Larry Gipson appealed a trial court's order holding that certain amendments to section 28-2A-1 et seq., Ala. Code 1975 (pertaining to the sale of alcoholic beverages in a municipality), were constitutional. After review, the Supreme Court concluded: (1) it was clear that the Alabama legislature intended to omit 3 counties from inclusion in Act No. 2009-546 allowing municipalities with a population of more than 1,000 to hold elections regarding the sale of alcohol in their municipal limits; and (2) it was clear that the legislature did not include a severability clause in Act No. 2009-546. The legislature included a general severability provision in the Alabama Code, which the Supreme Court regarded as an expression of legislative intent concerning the general power and duty of the judiciary to sever and save statutory provisions not tainted by the unconstitutionality of other provisions in the statute. However, the Court reasoned that the inclusion of a severability clause in a particular act was a clear statement of a legislative intent to sever unconstitutional provisions in that act while allowing the constitutional provisions to remain. Municipalities with more than 1,000 residents in 64 counties have held elections on whether to sell alcohol. The exclusion of the 3 counties from the provisions of Act No. 2009-546 violated the Equal Protection Clause where the exclusion was not rationally related to the regulation of alcohol because no basis existed for excluding smaller cities within those 3 counties from participating in a "wet" or "dry" election and allowing smaller cities in the remaining 64 counties to do so. However, using severability to save Act No. 2009-546 was not permissible where it was obvious that the legislature excluded the three counties for no rational reason, and to edit Act No. 2009-546 by severing that language excluding the three counties would be to undermine the clear intent of the legislature. The Supreme Court left "it to the legislature to redraft a constitutionally sound law." Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings.