Yesterday I talked about the link between embattled Alabama GOP Gov. Robert Bentley's impeachment scandal and the move by the staffer he was having an affair with to close drivers' license offices in predominately black counties in the state in order to make it harder to get voter IDs. Bentley is in a lot of trouble, and now the impeachment proceedings against him will get underway starting this week.
The Alabama Supreme Court ruled on Saturday that impeachment proceedings against Governor Robert Bentley can start next week, halting a court order that had blocked hearings stemming from his relationship with a former aide.
Bentley, a 74-year-old Republican, has battled impeachment efforts over the last year and has defied calls from political leaders that he stand down.
The 7-0 decision by the high court allows impeachment proceedings to begin in the House of Representatives' Judiciary Committee on Monday even as justices consider new filings in the case.
Bentley, who is in his second term, is accused of inappropriate use of state resources. His troubles began last year when recordings surfaced of him making suggestive remarks to a former adviser, Rebekah Mason, before his wife of 50 years filed for divorce in August 2015.
Bentley has denied having a physical affair with Mason, who is married. She resigned as questions about the pair's relationship began to dominate Alabama politics.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court stayed a temporary restraining order issued by a circuit court judge on Friday. The order had halted the impeachment process until hearings could be held on Bentley's claim that lawmakers did not give enough time to present an adequate defense.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Mike Jones hailed the decision, saying in a statement, "This is a great day for the Constitution of Alabama."
The Judiciary Committee will make a recommendation to the full House on whether to impeach Bentley.
Even Republicans want Bentley gone, and it seems difficult to imagine how he survives this now that it's gotten to the point of actual impeachment proceedings being led by his own party, when that party has supermajorities in both the state House and Senate. If they wanted Bentley to stay, they could have made this vanish at any point.
We'll see where this goes.