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“Channeling His Inner George Wallace”: Judge Roy Moore Stands On The Wrong Side Of History…Again

In June, it will be 52 years since George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door.

It happened at the University of Alabama, where two African-American students, Vivian Malone and James Hood, were attempting to register. In facing down three federal officials demanding that he stand aside and honor a court order allowing the registration to proceed, the bantam governor of Alabama sought to make good on a noxious promise: “segregation now, segregation tomorrow and segregation forever.”

The upshot is that if you go to UA today and look out from where Wallace stood, you will find yourself staring not at George Wallace Plaza, but rather at Malone-Hood Plaza, erected in honor of the two students, both of whom would go on to earn degrees from the school. Wallace was wrong morally, wrong constitutionally, wrong in the eyes of history. After half a century, his actions remain an indelible stain on the state’s honor.

You’d think Alabama would learn.

And to be fair, many Alabamans have. It’s just that Judge Roy Moore is not one of them.

Last week, apparently channeling his inner George Wallace, Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, ordered the state’s probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This was in defiance of a federal court that had struck down as unconstitutional Alabama’s ban on gay unions. Some judges obeyed him, some obeyed the higher court. The result was — apologies to the Temptations — a “ball of confusion” for same-sex couples seeking to be wed.

As you may know, this isn’t the first time Moore has done something like this. In 2001, he surreptitiously installed a granite monument bearing the Ten Commandments in the rotunda of the state judicial building. “Roy’s Rock” was an unambiguous violation of the First Amendment, but Moore refused to obey a federal court order to remove it.

That Moore, as your humble correspondent once wrote, “isn’t fit to judge a dog show” should be manifestly plain to anyone with eyes. How he became not just a judge but the state’s chief judge, is a mystery on a par with Stonehenge.

That said, there is nothing new here. History reminds us that whenever social change comes too fast for the South’s taste — which is to say, whenever social change comes — there seems to invariably arise some demagogue to decry the “tyranny” of having to obey the law and follow court orders. The South always resists.

That’s what necessitated the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Freedom Rides of 1961. It’s why federal troops had to march into Little Rock in 1957. For that matter, it’s why they had to march into Richmond in 1865. The demagogues always use the same justification, always say that in denying it the right to discriminate as it sees fit, the federal government steps on the South’s “traditions.”

Beg pardon, but some traditions need stepping on. Among them: the “tradition” of a region arrogantly arrogating unto itself the right to decide whether and when it will obey federal authority.

Of course, “tradition” is just a smokescreen word, like “values,” “heritage,” “faith” and all the other pretty terminology opponents of marriage equality use to justify their increasingly untenable position. In the raw and desperate extremism of Moore’s actions, the smoke is blown away and this much is clear: This was never about those pretty words. It is, and ever has been, only about a single ugly word: bigotry, about planting the force of law behind the belief that some of us are less than.

That’s why George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door. Now Roy Moore stands in the courthouse door, likely to equal effect.

He should ask himself what the view will be when people stand there looking out, 52 years from now.

 

By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist, The Miami Herald; The National Memo, February 16, 2015

February 17, 2015 Posted by | Bigotry, Discrimination, Roy Moore | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Unprofessional, Backwards And Unethical”: The Alabama Threesome; A Judge, His Bible And Bigotry

Power can be hoarded by the mighty or stolen from the innocent. Power provides the ability to choose… but has a proclivity for corruption. The use of power is not to be taken lightly, for it is never without consequence.

— Emily Thorne (Revenge)

Though protagonist Emily Thorne from ABC’s hit drama Revenge is just a fictional character, those words resonated with me when I first heard them.

There are those with immense power that choose to abuse or misuse that power in order to advance their own ideology, careers or agendas — all while negating the oaths they swore to uphold. In the end, justice is the first casualty, and the innocent suffer.

Roy Moore, Alabama’s Supreme Court Chief Justice, is that person who violated his sacred oaths. Justice Moore issued unethical statements on gay marriage — despite it concerning a case that is still ongoing, and one that could come to him. In a letter penned to the governor of Alabama, Justice Moore said:

As Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, I will continue to recognize the Alabama Constitution and the will of the people overwhelmingly expressed in the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.

Moore continued with:

I ask you to continue to uphold and support the Alabama Constitution with respect to marriage, both for the welfare of this state and for our posterity… Be advised that I stand with you to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority.

Are these the words of a state’s highest judge, or of an unprofessional, backwards and unethical right-wing fanatic?

Justice Moore is no stranger to controversy. He was removed from his post as Chief Justice in 2003 for disobeying a federal ruling that he remove a 10 Commandments monument that he had ordered installed in the judicial building.

Justice Moore also issued a very controversial opinion in the case of D.H. vs. H.H. where he voted for an abusive father to be given full custody of his children, rather than their lesbian mother.

He was elected to the highest judicial position in his state, and yet, he treats it like a church pulpit without regard to something called separation of church and state, or the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. You, Mr. Moore, are wrong when you claim that Alabama’s constitution is superior to federal law. Any first-year political science or pre-law student would be able to tell you that.

A person like Justice Moore is a threat to the very fabric of American society. This extremism should never be accepted or tolerated. When one holds the position of Chief Justice of a U.S. State, one would hope that the elected official would put what is legal, constitutional and right above their misguided, extremist or religious beliefs.

Marriage equality is coming to Alabama, Judge Moore. Not you, nor your unethical behavior, nor your piousness will prevent equality and love from prevailing.

Since the Chief Justice doesn’t seem very enlightened on matters concerning the law, and his antiquated beliefs are clouding his judgment, I would be more than happy to educate him on the legality of his position, and several other laws he might not be well-versed in.

Since making time for such a splendid learning session would probably interrupt his Duck Dynasty marathon, Bible speed-reading session or bedtime tales from Fox News, I recommend the Chief Justice run to his local Barnes&Noble store and pick up a paperback copy of Constitutional Law for Dummies. Trust me Judge Moore, it will be the best $20 you spend this year.

 

By: Izak Pratt, The Blog, The Huffington Post, February 9, 2015

February 10, 2015 Posted by | Bigotry, Marriage Equality, Roy Moore | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Jurisdiction-Stripping”: Roy “Ten Commandments” Moore Is Back With His Constitution-Defying Tricks

Roy Moore, Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, best known for his flouting of the Establishment Clause for refusing, in 2003, to remove a 2.6 ton Ten Commandments monument from the Supreme Court building, is now questioning the jurisdiction of federal courts to decide the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.

After Moore was removed from the bench in that same year, he ran for governor several times and flirted with running for president. He won reelection to the Alabama high court in 2012.

Writing to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley today, Moore complains that last week’s federal court ruling striking down Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage “has raised serious, legitimate concerns about the propriety of federal court jurisdiction over the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.” In the letter, Moore warns that local clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples will be “in defiance of the laws and Constitution of Alabama.”

Moore is attempting to argue for jurisdiction-stripping, a maneuver to deprive a federal court (despite what is required in the Constitution itself) of the ability to decide questions of federal Constitutional law. Moore, of course, cannot do this unilaterally; like his Ten Commandments stunt, he would be in defiance of the federal Constitution with his antics. All his efforts, and all his appeals to religion, can’t change the simple fact that under the Constitution, federal courts, not state courts, decide matters of federal constitutional law.

But Moore believes the Bible trumps the Constitution (or at least his version of the Bible). As Julie Ingersoll has observed, “Moore’s underlying philosophy of law is that only God and the Bible can be the source of moral authority.”

This wouldn’t be the first time that Moore has attempted (utterly unsuccessfully, I might add) to shut down a federal court’s constitutionally-granted jurisdiction and authority over constitutional matters, as I noted in 2011:

After Moore was stripped of his judgeship for defying a federal court order to remove his monument, [his lawyer, Herb] Titus drafted the Constitution Restoration Act, which would have deprived federal courts of jurisdiction in cases challenging a government entity’s or official’s “acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.” The bill, which did not pass, nonetheless had nine Senate co-sponsors and 50 House co-sponsors; including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Bobby Jindal, now the governor of Louisiana, Nathan Deal, now the governor of Georgia, and Mike Pence, a conservative hero who’s now running for governor of Indiana.

Moore argues in his letter to Bentley today that “The laws of this state have always recognized the Biblical admonition stated by our Lord,” citing Mark 10:6-9 (“But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. . . What therefore God hath joined together let not man put asunder.”)

When others, like Mike Huckabee, speak loosely of the Supreme Court lacking the authority to decide whether same-sex marriage bans violate the Constitution, it stems from the ideology of Moore and his ilk: that despite what the Constitution says, the Bible comes first. Something tells me, though, Moore’s new stunt won’t fare much better than his last.

 

By: Sarah Posner, Religion Dispatches, January 27, 2015

February 1, 2015 Posted by | Marriage Equality, Roy Moore, U. S. Constitution | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GOP Presidential Contenders Compete To Win Over “The Political Army Of The Lord”

Workers remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building after Superior Court Justice Roy Moore refused to take it down in 2003

So you can add another car to the crazy train that is the 2012 Republican presidential nominating contest. No, I’m not talking about last week’s sensation, Donald Trump. He’s a pretty conventional figure compared to the latest would-be president, former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who is currently barnstorming through Iowa after announcing an exploratory committee.

You may remember Judge Moore as the man who was forced from his judicial post after refusing to remove a gigantic monument to the Ten Commandments from his courthouse. He was also known for abrasive comments from the bench about homosexuality as contrary to God’s will, which in Moore’s opinion was dispositive. A martyr for theocrats everywhere, Moore spent some time hauling his monument around Alabama before launching two notably unsuccessful gubernatorial races — coming in a bad second in 2006’s Republican primary and a bad fourth in 2010 — and becoming a minor fixture at tea party events.

Moore was undoubtedly drawn to Iowa by that state’s furor over same-sex marriage, decreed legal by a 2009 state Supreme Court ruling. Iowa’s powerful Christian Right movement has made overturning that decision Job One, beginning with a successful effort in 2010 to remove three of the seven jurists responsible for it. It’s one of the few places left where Republicans don’t try to ignore the whole issue of gay rights as a divisive loser of an issue (which is why presidential wannabees like Tim Pawlenty have anachronistically come out against the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell). For Moore, it must have felt more like “home” than home.

Before writing off Moore as a kook trying to horn in on the spotlight of a presidential race, consider the company he’s keeping on his tour of the first-in-the-nation-caucuses state: former state legislator Danny Carroll. Carroll was co-chairman (with three-time gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats) of Mike Huckabee’s successful 2008 Caucus campaign, and more recently, signed on as a lobbyist for Vander Plaats’ new Christian Right umbrella group, The Family Leader. He’s a reasonably big deal in Iowa GOP circles, and by no means someone who howls at the moon.

For all I know, Carroll sees something in the crusty Alabama judge that others haven’t seen. Or maybe Judge Moore is a convenient stalking horse for Huckabee, designed to keep The Faithful loose and out of anyone else’s camp, in case Huck ultimately decides to run.

Regardless of Carroll’s (or Moore’s) personal motives, it’s likely the national Republican chattering class will dismiss the Judge’s campaign as a joke even worse than Trump’s. Or, it may be said, there is now such a crowd on the far right that opportunities are opening up for more moderate possibilities like Romney, T-Paw or an establishment-backed candidate-yet-to-be-named.

But I’d like to suggest another theory: the Christian/tea party right in Iowa is big enough, powerful enough, and politically sophisticated enough to hold its own caucus-within-a-caucus (well, caucuses, to be technical about it), an intramural contest to determine which candidate will actually represent the cause when Iowa Republicans make their final commitments before Caucus Night. Proven zealots like Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, and now Moore, will joust with more suspect supplicants like T-Paw, Newt Gingrich — and maybe even Donald Trump! — over the next few months, with someone emerging as the designated favorite of the political army of the Lord. That is arguably what happened in Iowa in 2008, when Huckabee and Sen. Sam Brownback fought to become the Christian Right alternative to Mitt Romney, with Huckabee becoming The Man only after he out-organized Brownback at the State Party Straw Poll in Ames during the summer.

Moore’s candidacy may not ultimately have any direct influence on what happens next winter in Iowa, when conservative evangelicals and conservative Catholics get together to shape the 2012 Republican nominating process.

But he could indeed intensify the competition for Christian Right voters. And just as importantly, he could definitely serve as a symbol of the ideological and psychological gap between rigorous conservative activists and the mainstream political commentariat. Most of the latter think Moore is a crazy person. But most of the Iowa audiences before which Moore speaks will consider him an authentic if polarizing voice expressing the Word of God. That’s a pretty big gulf in perception, but also a pretty good reflection of the real differences Americans experience in how they view their leaders.

By: Ed Kilgore, Managing Editor of The Democratic Strategist and Senior Editor, Progressive Policy Institute. Article published in The Atlantic, April 20, 2011: Photo by Tami Chappell (Reuters)

April 23, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, Elections, Exploratory Presidential Committees, GOP, Ideology, Iowa Caucuses, Politics, Religion, Republicans, Right Wing, Tea Party, Voters | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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