Roy Moore Protege Attacks Legacy of Hugo Black
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 03:05:35 PM EST
Tom Parker is running for the job once held by the Roy Moore, the former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who was ousted for defying a federal court order to remove the monument to the Ten Commandments he had installed in the state courthouse in Montgomery. Parker, who served as a spokesman and legal counsel to Moore, was elected to a seat as an Associate Justice on the court in 2004.

Parker is running a pugnacious Christian Rightist primary campaign for the GOP nomination for chief against incumbent Chief Justice Drayton Nabers, who once clerked for legendary U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Hugo Black. The primary will be held on June 6th. Said Parker:

"Hugo Black was one of the worst justices in the history of the U.S. Supreme Court. Unlike Chief Justice Nabers, I would never choose to work for Hugo Black after he ruled against school prayer and religious training in the classroom and Bible reading in public schools. And if I were Alabama's chief justice, I would never look to Hugo Black as an inspiration."


Parker is running on what is widely viewed as a payback slate of candidates seeking vengeance against the justices who voted -- unanimously -- for the ouster of Moore.

The Associated Press reported on the flap over Parker's attack on Hugo Black on the occasion of the induction of the late Supreme Court justice into its hall of fame last week.

Parker issued a statement calling Black's induction into the Alabama Lawyers Hall of Fame a "shameful disgrace to the people and state of Alabama." He said Black "personally launched the war to kick God out of the public square in America."

Parker... also criticized Republican Chief Justice Drayton Nabers for participating in the event at the state judicial building. Parker's statement got distributed at the induction ceremony, where three other prominent Alabama legal figures were inducted along with Black.

Black was a Senator from Alabama before President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him to the Court in 1937.  He served for 34 years and was, among other things, a strong defender of the First Amendment and opponent of racial segregation, as reflected in his work in support of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education which outlawed racial segregation of the public schools.

Parker's post-Moore career has been marked by controversy following revelations of his ties to neo-confederate groups and his publicly stated belief that state courts have the right to defy federal court decisions. His peculiar line of argument, the notion of "interpostition," has roots in the states rights based argument against federal court ordered desegregation. For his views on defiance of federal courts, among other things, he received an award from the theocratic education organization, Vision Forum, headed by Christian Reconsructionist thinker, Doug Phillips.

Parker's campaign is of a piece with the far right's attack on the judiciary. As a matter of fact, Parker introduced Roy Moore on the occasion of his speech at the 2005 "Confronting the Judicial War on Faith Conference" in Washington, DC.  Parker is so closely tied to Moore and all that he represents, that he even posted his remarks in introducing Moore on his campaign web site. He wrote in part:

On the day that he was removed from office by the Court of the Judiciary for his faithfulness to his oath to support the Constitution instead of an unlawful order of a federal judge, I handed him a scripture verse that I had written out for him the night before:

Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it brings forth much fruit. (John 12:24)

Chief Justice Moore, because you chose to stand in the face of great personal sacrifice, the growing national awakening and the coalescing of these leaders in this nascent movement are the fruit.

Please welcome Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

It will be a measure of the far right's electoral strength, alongside the Roy Moore's primary campaign against the sitting GOP governor.

by Frederick Clarkson on Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 03:09:05 PM EST

Gov. Bob Riley leads challenger Roy Moore in the battle for the Republican gubernatorial nomination by 44 points, according to a new statewide survey of 402 registered voters who are likely to vote Republican.

Riley drew 64 percent support among self-identified Republican primary voters, compared with Moore's 20 percent.  

It is not likely that Moore can overtake the incumbent with seven weeks left until the June 6 vote.

by jhutson on Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 03:30:19 PM EST

First, a poll that small is not truly indicative of the strength of a populist insurgent.  And second, while I suspect that Moore is unlikely to prevail, the signficance of the race is not measured only in who wins and who loses. Primaries are as much about defining the nature and unity or disunity of the party itself -- any party.  

So for example, if the Moore/Parker slate loses, will they and their supporters rally for the GOP ticket in the general? Will they sit it out, not seeing a dimes worth of difference between the GOP and the Dems, while they regroup for next time? Or will they bolt and join the Constitution Party?  

I'd say the jury is going to be out for awhile on these things.

by Frederick Clarkson on Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 03:41:57 PM EST

Bob Moser's recent report in The Nation indicated that in a previous poll, Moore was trailing by 30 points. There's a sizeable gap between that poll and the most recent one, showing Moore trailing by 44 points among likely GOP voters. In any case, Moore is having a hard time holding his own, as his support among his base seems to be eroding. It's definitely a race to watch.

As I noted in my recent essay on the Christian Coalition of Alabama, conservative Christians in Alabama are turned off by the CCA's involvement in the Jack Abramoff scandal. The fallout has apparently impacted Moore's gubernatorial race.

Moser writes:

[T]he fallout from [Ralph] Reed's "anti-gambling" efforts has already flattened the once mighty Texas Christian Coalition. The equally powerful Christian Coalition of Alabama, which helped Reed fend off video poker and state lottery bills in 1999 and 2000--spending some $850,000 that has now been traced back to the casino-owning Mississippi Band of Choctaws--has also fallen into a tailspin, with its most popular political champion, former "Ten Commandments Judge" Roy Moore, trailing by almost thirty percentage points in the GOP primary race for governor.

I agree with you that, given Moore's unlikely chance of prevailing in the GOP primary, the more interesting question is whether conservative Christian voters and others who support Moore will throw their support behind the GOP establishment, rally behind a doomed but ideologically attractive third-party candidate -- or just stay home.

Although the mainstream media stays focused on the big Senate and House races, sometimes, these elections for statewide "down the ballot" races really tell you more about what's on voters' minds. Moore's gubernatorial primary race in Alabama, and Reed's lieutenant gubernatorial primary race in Georgia, bear scrutiny.

by jhutson on Tue Apr 18, 2006 at 04:52:22 PM EST

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