Single-Subject Rule of § 45, Ala. Const. 1901


Clay County Animal Shelter, Inc. v. Clay County Commission, et al., [Ms. 1190947, May 28, 2021], ___ So. 3d ___ (Ala. 2021). In a plurality opinion, (Stewart, J.; Wise and Mitchell, JJ., concur; Parker, C.J., concurs specially; Shaw and Bryan, JJ., concur in the result; Bolin, Sellers, and Mendheim, JJ., dissent), the Court reverses the Clay Circuit Court’s judgment declaring Act No. 2018-432 relating to the Clay County Animal Shelter violates § 46 of the Alabama Constitution of 1901. The parties challenging the Act alleged, inter alia, that it violates § 45 because it “contains more than one subject because it both alters an existing earmark and simultaneously appropriates funds to the animal shelter.” Ms. *11.

The opinion notes that “[c]onsistent with the presumption favoring the validity and constitutionality of legislation, in reviewing whether legislation violates the single-subject rule, this Court will accord the legislation a liberal interpretation without requiring hypercritical exactness or strict enforcement ‘in such manner as to cripple legislation.’” Ms. *16, quoting Knight v. West Alabama Env’t. Improvement Auth., 287 Ala. 15, 22, 246 So. 2d 903, 908 (1971)(some internal quotation marks omitted). The opinion explains that “[t]he single-subject rule encompasses two primary requirements of legislation. Specifically, the legislation must be limited to a single subject and the single subject must be clearly expressed in the title of the legislation.” Ms. *17.

The opinion concludes “‘[t]he title need not be an index or catalog of every power bestowed in the act, nor of every effect of the act.’ Lane [v. Gurley Oil Co.], 341 So. 2d [712, 715 (Ala. 1977)], (citing Opinion of the Justices No.138, 262 Ala. 345, 81 So. 2d 277 (1955)). Thus, Act No. 2018-432 satisfies the two-part test for establishing whether legislation complies with § 45, see Bagby Elevator & Elec. [Co. v. McBride, 292 Ala. 191, 194, 291 So. 2d 306, 308 (1974)] and the act fulfills the above-stated objectives of the single-subject rule.” Ms. *32.

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