- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 15, 2016

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - A bench ally of suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit challenging what he called the state’s unconstitutional restrictions on judges’ speech.

Associate Justice Tom Parker filed the lawsuit against the state’s Judicial Inquiry Commission challenging speech restrictions in the canons of judicial ethics, the code of conduct for judges.

The lawsuit comes after the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2015 filed a complaint against Parker over remarks he made on a conservative talk show criticizing the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage.

The canons, among other things, say judges should “abstain from public comment about a pending or impending proceeding in any court.” Parker’s attorney said the restriction is unnecessarily strict and violates Parker’s right to freedom of speech.

“The Judicial Canon which prohibits any judges from speaking on any case pending anywhere in the country is a clear violation of the First Amendment. … Justice Parker has a constitutional right to speak out on the case so long as he is not presently presiding over it,” lawyer Mat Staver said in a statement.

Moore was automatically suspended from office this spring after the Judicial Inquiry Commission brought charges accusing him of violating judicial ethics in his actions related to the fight over same-sex marriage. Under the Alabama Constitution, judges are automatically suspended if the commission brings charges.

Parker’s lawsuit also challenges the automatic suspension provision, saying that violates a judge’s right of due process.

The Southern Poverty Law Center also filed the complaint against Moore. Moore has until Monday to file his response to the commission’s charges.

SPLC President Richard Cohen said he thought the lawsuit was hypocritical.

“Parker rants and raves about overreaching federal courts and now he is looking to them to protect him from a state court,” he said.

Cohen has said Parker could be a judge or an advocate, but he “can’t be both.”

The Judicial Inquiry Commission has not brought charges against Parker like it has Moore but is investigating the complaint against him, according to the lawsuit.

In a 2015 interview on a Christian-themed radio show, Parker criticized the U.S. Supreme Court decision, saying the court jumped outside legal precedents to legalize gay marriage. The show host asked Parker what would happen if the state supreme court refused to accept the federal decision.

“I doubt that it would be a blanket defiance of all jurisdiction of the U.S. Supreme Court,” Parker said.

“Resisting that decision could maybe start a revival of what we need in this country to return to our founding principles,” he added.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide