When Roy Moore arrived for a reception at the Elbert Parsons Law Library in downtown Huntsville this week, he found a demonstration across the street supporting the separation of church and state in America.
About two dozen local citizens turned out to protest the state supreme court’s notorious chief justice and his revisionist constitutional history on Tuesday.
Among them were Anathalee Sandlin and Jamie Calhoun, both activists with Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates. ARRA, which has become a kind of underground railroad for abortion access in Alabama, is just one organization that has filed an ethics complaint against Moore this year.
Like ARRA, the Southern Poverty Law Center has also filed and amended an ethics complaint with the state’s Judicial Inquiry Commission.
Freethinkers such as Chuck Miller, Regional Chairman of American Atheists, were a majority in the small crowd. But motivations were as diverse as the rainbow flags on display, and religious freedom was on everyone’s lips.
Moore’s sectarian views are well-known. A Southern Baptist, his judicial views hew to the extreme right even within his denomination. The head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has disagreed with Moore’s judicial activism against the US Supreme Court’s Obergefell v Hodges decision striking down state laws against same-sex marriage, for example.
There are also ethical questions about Moore’s Foundation for Moral Law, which intervenes in litigation around the country, pushing an extreme and reactionary legal agenda. FML is still apparently coordinating with its founder even while he sits in charge of the state’s highest court.
As seen in the above video, participants at Tuesday’s rally mentioned this point to BU.
But Moore’s proud associations with secessionists and hate groups is at least as problematic as his sketchy ethics. A longtime favorite of the Christian Reconstruction movement, Moore also has enduring ties to the League of the South, a white supremacist neoconfederate organization.
Michael Peroutka, a former member of the League who is also influential in the Christian Reconstruction movement, is an important ideological ally and financial supporter of Moore. The League also turned out to support a rally against marriage equality held in front of Moore’s FML this February.
When Moore first achieved notoriety by posting an icon of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom during the mid-1990s, he also spoke to the Council of Conservative Citizens (get it? CCC=KKK), the already-infamous successor to the white citizens councils of a previous era.
In June of this year, Dylann Roof credited the CCC with his inspiration to murder nine churchgoers at the historic AME church in Charleston, South Carolina.
Citing Roy Moore’s speech to Operation Save America, a gathering of forced-birth activists in Montgomery, Alabama that BU covered in July, ARRA’s complaint to the Judicial Inquiry Commission highlights these extremist ties.
“By affiliating with members of Operation Rescue, Army of God, and OSA,” ARRA’s complaint states, “(Moore) has aligned himself ethically with people and organizations who meet the federal criteria of domestic terrorists.”
Last time Roy Moore faced trial before the Judicial Inquiry Commission, he was removed as chief justice for refusing a federal court’s order to remove a stone monument of the Ten Commandments from the supreme court rotunda.
Moore was returned to the office in a 2012 election victory.