Alabama Votes To Keep Racist Language In Constitution

Separate but equal. But the politics are complicated: Conservatives wanted the change, and black legislators opposed it.

Alabama's Amendment 4 would have removed racist 1956 sections of Alabama's Constitution, referring to a poll tax and segregating the schools.

But the provisions are not in effect — the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the unconstitutional — and black and liberal Alabama legislators opposed another section of the bill:

Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed as creating or recognizing any right to education or training at public expense, nor as limiting the authority and duty of the legislature, in furthering or providing for education, to require or impose conditions or procedures deemed necessary to the preservation of peace and order.

Mitt Romney carried Alabama Tuesday with 61% of the state's vote, and 84% of its white vote, and the failure of Amendment 4 put in relief some of the state's continuing racial tensions.

But while the vote has drawn attention in, particularly, the European press, the politics were complicated: The conservatives who backed the bill sought to use it to ensure that state courts could not force spending on schools, as they have elsewhere, a matter that is currently in the state's courts. And the liberals — led by the teachers union — who opposed it argued that the amendment was a kind of Trojan horse really aimed at "hurting public education.

Preliminary results showed the amendment losing handily, with about 63% of voters opposing it.