Roy Moore, the anti-gay Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who was suspended for attempting to block same-sex marriages in the state, has announced he will be running in a special election for the seat formerly held by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Moore made the announcement on Wednesday, entering a crowded field of Republicans seeking to challenge interim Sen. Luther Strange (R), the former state attorney general, who was appointed to the seat by former Gov. Robert Bentley, who has since resigned from office. Political opponents have accused Strange, who was investigating the governor, of looking the other way in exchange for an appointment to the seat while Bentley violated campaign finance laws by using state resources to cover up an extramarital affair with a female adviser.
On Wednesday, while making his announcement, Moore was true to form, highlighting the importance of socially conservative values — including opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage — the literal interpretation of federal laws, and state’s rights, reports The Montgomery Advertiser.
“As United States Senator, I will continue to stand for rights and liberties not only of this state, but of the people as well,” he said in his kick-off speech. “I now I share the vision of our President Donald Trump to make America great again. [But] Before we can make America great again, we’ve got to make America good.”
Strange, as the incumbent senator until the special election can be held, said in a statement that he looked forward “to making his case to the people of Alabama as to why he should be their voice in the U.S. Senate.”
In addition to Strange, the Republican field includes State Rep. Ed Henry (R-Hartselle), former Christian Coalition of Alabama Chairman Randy Brinson, and will likely include Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh (R-Anniston). Others may soon jump in, including U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, State Sen. Slade Blackwell (R-Montevallo) and Sen. Trup Pittman (R-Montrose).
Winning the Republican primary is tantamount to winning the general election, given that Democrats have not been competitive in most statewide races for over a decade. As such, that bodes well for Moore, who only has to win a plurality of Republican base voters to make it to a two-person runoff. The primary is scheduled for Aug. 15, with any runoff (if no one earns more than 50 percent of the vote) taking place on Sept. 26. The general election takes place on Dec. 12.
Moore gained infamy when he was suspended from his seat on the Alabama Supreme Court after the Court of the Judiciary found him guilty of violating judicial ethics. Critics charged that Moore had attempted to circumvent the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing marriage equality by issuing an order to probate judges advising them that they had to continue enforcing Alabama’s now-defunct ban on same-sex marriages.
Moore has maintained that he did nothing wrong, and was only trying to advise probate judges on the status of the same-sex marriage ban. He subsequently appealed the Court of the Judiciary’s ruling, which was upheld by his colleagues on the Alabama Supreme Court last week.
But Moore is no stranger to political comebacks. From 2001 to 2003, he previously served as Chief Justice, but was removed from office after he defied a federal judge’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building. Because Moore is 70, Alabama law prohibits him from running for a judicial office. However, he can revive his political career by seeking a U.S. Senate seat.