January 28, 2013

The Revival of Roy Moore

By: Brooke A. Rogers

After nearly a decade, Roy Moore is returning to the Alabama Supreme Court as Chief Justice. This time, the courts should know exactly what to expect of Moore.

Nine years ago, Chief Justice Roy Moore was being interviewed in a cross-examination, with his job on the line. “If you resume your duties as Chief Justice after this proceeding, you will continue to acknowledge God, as you have testified that you would today, no matter what any other official says?” he was asked during a judicial review hearing.

“Absolutely,” Moore replied. “Without an acknowledgement of God, I cannot do my job. I must acknowledge God.”

Chief Justice Roy Moore’s priorities haven’t changed since 2003. During that decisive year, Alabama’s Court of Judiciary – composed of political appointees and judges selected by legal groups and the state Supreme Court – unanimously voted that he be removed from office for his refusal to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Supreme Courthouse, as ordered by a federal judge. The Court of Judiciary stated that Moore had “not only willfully and publicly defied the orders of a United States district court, but upon direct questioning by the court he also gave no assurance that he would not follow that order or any similar order in the future. In fact, he reaffirmed his earlier statements in which he said he would do the same.”

The last ten years have been challenging for Roy Moore. He lost two gubernatorial campaigns, first to Republican Bob Riley in 2006, then to Republican Robert Bentley in 2010. Many thought that he had fallen into political oblivion. Perhaps that’s why his re-election was so surprising to so many. After losing political ground for almost a decade, he wasn’t expected to make a comeback.

The key to understanding this dramatic turn-around is to know this particular race. Alabama voters selected him for the Supreme Court, but they never voted him out. “The people didn’t un-elect me, but it will be the people who vote me back,” Moore said during his 2006 campaign. That statement proved prophetic, just not for the race he was running at the time. In the 2012 campaign for chief justice, he received 52 percent of the vote over his Democratic opponent.

Over the years, Roy Moore has been criticized for his views on same-sex marriage, abortion and evolution, but his victory in this election wasn’t the result of dancing around the issues that had previously resulted in his removal. “Of course, we should never forget the one who makes all things possible,” Moore said as he returned to the court, “that’s Almighty God.”

Ken Freedman, a friend and associate of Chief Justice Moore, attended the ceremony and commented on Moore’s character. “Roy is indeed a warrior, he has been through tremendous mental anguish and his faith and strength have never been shaken,” Freedman told Doublethink.

The investiture ceremony was marked by a strong show of conservative support for MooreGov. Robert Bentley, R-Ala., Moore’s old rival, attended the ceremony. The governor’s brother, John Bentley, spoke before Roy Moore took his oath of office. “My only regret is I lack the eloquence of diction, or the poetry of imagination to express the feelings that I am having at this time,” said Bentley. He described Moore as having “mental and physical toughness” and “undying faith” adding that “he was then, has been, and will continue to be a warrior.”

The rest of the Court watched approvingly as Moore received his oath and was robed for office by his wife and two sons.  His acceptance speech looked to the future. “There’s nothing so certain as change itself,” said Moore, and change is certain in Alabama as a new and determined Chief Justice leads an entirely Republican Supreme Court into a new term. This court is far more conservative than the court that removed Moore ten years ago – and it’s another sign that, with liberals in ascendance in the federal government, conservatives can look to the states.

Brooke A. Rogers is a student at Laramie County Community College in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo.