‘Politically Motivated’ Claims Against Alabama Judge Tossed
by Bob Unruh
A complaint that had been filed against Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker by the domestic terror-linked Southern Poverty Law Center has been dismissed by the state’s Judicial Inquiry Commission.
“Shame on the SPLC for filing this politically motivated complaint against Justice Parker,” said Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, which represents Parker.
Parker was accused, after he was interviewed on American Family Radio about the U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion on marriage, of violating the Canon 3(A)(6) of the state canons of judicial ethics.
The problem, Staver explained, is that the rule purports to prevent any judge in the state from making “any public comment about a pending or impending proceeding in any court” – even if the judge is not involved in the case and if the judge’s comments “do not have a reasonable likelihood of affecting the outcome or impairing the fairness of that proceeding.”
Liberty Counsel noted such a rule has been described by the American Bar Association as violating the First Amendment.
In fact, a lawsuit has been filed in federal court challenging the constitutionality of the rule. U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins, in the case, acknowledged the First Amendment issues that arise when SPLC, in a political season, attempts to use an agency of state government to suppress speech with which the SPLC disagrees. But the judge did not rule immediately.
“We are pleased that the complaint against Justice Tom Parker has been dismissed,” said Staver. “The speech restrictive Judicial Canon clearly violates the First Amendment. The Canon is so broad that it prevents judges from commenting on any case pending anywhere in the county, even if they are teaching students in law school.
“I call upon the Alabama Supreme Court and the legislature to change this unconstitutional speech restriction and the automatic removal provision,” said Staver.