If U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) is confirmed as U.S. attorney general, his seat in the Senate will be open. The governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley (R), will have to a name a replacement to fill out the rest of Sessions’ term, which expires in 2020.
Bentley is getting a head start on things by interviewing potential replacements. One of the names on his short list may surprise you: It’s Roy Moore.
Yes, that Roy Moore. The infamous “Ten Commandments judge” who believes he can ignore rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court could end up in the U.S. Senate. It’s mind-boggling.
Just as a reminder: Moore was removed as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court not just once but twice.
The first time was in 2003. Moore, who had been elected to the state high court in 2000, was sued in 2001 by Americans United, the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama and the Southern Poverty Law Center after he erected a two-ton Ten Commandments monument at the Judicial Building in Montgomery.
A federal appeals court ordered that the religious structure be removed, but Moore refused, openly defying the court. For that stunt he was tried before the Court of the Judiciary, an oversight body in Alabama, and removed from the state’s high court.
Moore knocked around the Religious Right speaking circuit for a time, and he twice ran unsuccessfully in Republican primaries for governor. In 2012, he ran for chief justice again and was elected.
This is no place for Roy Moore.
But Moore couldn’t stay out of trouble. In January of 2015, a federal court struck down Alabama’s ban on marriage between same-sex couples in a case brought by Americans United and allied groups. The legal matter wasn’t in Moore’s court, but he tried to intervene anyway. In a letter to Bentley, Moore questioned the ability of federal courts to invalidate Alabama laws.
In June of 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down Obergefell v. Hodges, a 5-4 decision stating that same-sex couples have a right to marry under the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. The ruling had the effect of invalidating bans on marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.
About six months after that ruling, Moore unilaterally issued a strange “administrative order” advising all probate judges in Alabama that the ban on marriage for same-sex couples in the state remained in place. It obviously did not, as the federal court later made clear. Once again, Moore was urging defiance of a federal court. And once again, he was called on the carpet for it.
Several complaints were filed, and Moore soon found himself back on trial. He was removed from the court for the second time on Sept. 30.
Here we have a case of a man who clearly believes he’s above the law or that some version of “biblical law” (as determined by Moore) trumps regular old secular law. Moore has been punished for his arrogance and defiance twice by being removed from high office – and the response to that is to consider putting him in the U.S. Senate?
President-elect Donald Trump’s criteria for picking people to head federal agencies seems to be that the appointees are not only unqualified but disdainful of the departments they are expected to run. (Best example: Betsy DeVos, an advocate of private school vouchers, heading up the Education Department.) By considering Moore, Bentley appears to be following Trump’s example. In the Senate, Moore would undoubtedly engage in outrageous antics and self-promotion, but he wouldn’t accomplish anything for the people of Alabama.
Moore has repeatedly demonstrated that he has no respect for the rule of law. Allowing him to get anywhere near the Senate can only be regarded as a bad joke.