With recall in the air in Wisconsin, Alabama considers letting public recall judges

While many eyes are focused on the gubernatorial recall election in Wisconsin, Alabama’s legislature has been contending with expanding its own limited recall provisions to include not only that state’s governor, but its judges as well.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a majority of states allow for some form of recall but at least some explicitly exempt judicial officers. Alaska’s constitution, for example, reads in operative part (bolding added):

All elected public officials in the State, except judicial officers, are subject to recall by the voters of the State or political subdivision from which elected. Procedures and grounds for recall shall be prescribed by the legislature.

Presently Alabama’s recall is limited to municipal commissioners and mayors. There have been numerous bills in the last 4 years introduced in Alabama that would permit some sort of recall election for officials. Of them

Only one, HB 204 of 2012 exempts judges from recall.


  • HB 393 of 2009, which required no specific grounds, died in committee with no activity.
  • SB 491 and SB 495, both of 2011, required the petitioners allege 1) malfeasance or nonfeasance, 2) lack of physical or mental fitness, 3) incompetence, or 4) violation of an oath of office. Both bills died in committee with no activity.
  • Of the 2012 bills, the House version (HB 311) requires no grounds be specified while the Senate versions (SB 17  and SB 19) have the same 4 criteria as their 2011 versions. 

SB 17 was approved on a 5-1 vote by Senate Committee on Constitution, Campaign Finance, Ethics, and Elections 3/22/12.