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Alabama Republicans chose a twice-suspended former State Supreme Court Justice as their nominee for the election to fill the seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Moore, who campaigns as “Judge” Moore despite his suspensions, defeated temporarily appointed incumbent and former Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, 55% to 45%, largely based on his strong showing in the state’s rural areas.
The showdown between the two Republicans served as a proxy war between socially conservative grassroots activists, who overwhelmingly backed Moore, and members of the Washington establishment, including President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
A handful of Republicans have expressed fears that Moore’s long record courting controversy make him a potential liability in the general election. Those fears may be unfounded, as Alabama voters have not elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate since 1992, when current Sen. Richard Shelby was up for re-election as a Democrat. Shelby switched parties shortly after Republicans gained control of Congress in 1994, and has easily been re-elected multiple times since then. That said, while a typical Alabama Republican often easily surpasses 60 percent of the vote, Moore only narrowly won his 2012 bid for Chief Supreme Court Justice, due in part to his controversial stances or statements.
Moore served as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court from 2001 to 2003 and again from 2013 to 2017. The first time he was suspended was due to his refusal to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from the central rotunda of the Supreme Court building, defying a federal judge’s order to have it removed.
After returning to his old position more than a decade later, Moore was once again suspended after the Court of the Judiciary found him guilty of violating judicial ethics by attempting to circumvent the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision legalizing marriage equality. Moore had previously ordered probate judges in Alabama to continue enforcing Alabama’s law banning same-sex marriage despite the ban being overturned by the Supreme Court’s decision — which Moore vocally (and repeatedly) criticized.
Moore, who faces Democrat Doug Jones on Dec. 12, has repeatedly argued that “homosexual conduct should be illegal” in both a 2005 interview and in a 2015 interview. Moore was also part of a 4-1 decision that overturned an appeals court decision to rule against a lesbian involved in a custody dispute with her ex-husband over custody of their three children. Despite the appeals court feeling there was evidence that the father had been abusive, the Supreme Court ruled that the trial judge “was in a better position to evaluate” evidence of the abuse.
But Moore went even further, writing a concurring opinion in which he argued that homosexuality is a “criminal lifestyle,” an “inherent evil against which children must be protected,” and “abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature’s god upon which this Nation and our laws are predicated.”
“[A] sexual relationship between two persons of the same gender-creates a strong presumption of unfitness that alone is sufficient justification for denying that parent custody of his or her own children or prohibiting the adoption of the children of others,” Moore wrote.
He has also compared homosexuality to bestiality, polygamy and incest, criticized same-sex couples who undergo artificial insemination, and has supported banning all LGBTQ people from serving in the U.S. military. He said in a speech to a Baptist Church congregation that people have the right to tell transgender people that living authentically according to their gender identity that they are wrong, and suggested that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were punishment for overturning laws criminalizing sodomy.
Moore compared the Obergefell decision that he is accused of trying to undermine to the Dred Scott decision upholding slavery, saying that Obergefell is “even worse in a sense” because marriage equality harms and infringes upon the religious rights of Christians. He also suggested that Congress should try to impeach the five Supreme Court justices who voted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.
LGBTQ groups widely condemned Moore’s candidacy, and promised to try to defeat him (even though it is likely he will be elected Senator given Alabama’s partisan leanings). In 2016, the Human Rights Campaign had previously launched the #NoMoore campaign to remove Moore from his Supreme Court seat. He was eventually suspended for the remainder of his term, after which he will be too old, at least under Alabama law, to be a judge.
“Roy Moore keeps getting fired from jobs yet he continues to ask the people of Alabama for a promotion. Despite being removed from office twice for ethical violations, Roy Moore has succeeded in becoming the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate,” Eva Kendrick, HRC’s Alabama state director, said in a statement.
“Given Roy Moore’s track record of flouting laws and attacking the civil rights of LGBTQ people across our state, we already know he won’t stand up for all Alabamians when it matters most. In the run up to December 12, we urge every fair-minded person across Alabama to say #NoMoore and reject the politics of bigotry and hate.”