Roy Moore is honoring an old American tradition: demagoguing gays to further his career.
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Roy Moore, the Alabama State Supreme Court Chief Justice who this week was back in the headlines for ordering to all probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Moore's order, or at obeying it, is illegal, and he likely knows it, but he's a master of juridicial subterfuge, and has proven he's willing to risk it all to win.
Moore was first elected Alabama State Supreme Court Chief Justice in 2001, and removed in 2003 for refusing to remove from the State Supreme Court building a 5,280 pound granite monument of the ten Commandments he had commissioned. After losing in federal court twice, yet still refusing to comply, Moore was removed from office by the only means possible: the Alabama Court of the Judiciary ruled "Chief Justice Moore has violated the Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics."
Despite this – or more likely, because of it – Moore was again elected Alabama State Supreme Court Chief Justice in 2012. And despite his recent assault on the rights of Alabama's LGBT community, the State Supreme Court Chief Justice can't be impeached.
But as it turns out, when his six-year term expires in 2018, Moore will be 71 years old, and over the legal age limit to run again.
What's left for Moore to do?
In 2012 he attempted a run for president, which was rather unsuccessful.
A few days ago, when Moore issued his order to probate judges, I dashed off a rare emotional tweet:
So, Roy Moore had a bad Christmas and decided to get some attention. He’ll probably be on CNN soon. Meanwhile, people’s lives are harmed.— David Badash (@davidbadash) January 6, 2016
I didn't realize just how right I was.
"Roy Moore is running for governor."
So says Michele Gerlach, the publisher of a local Alabama newspaper, The Andalusia Star-News.
"Roy Moore wasn’t really hoping to change the practices of Alabama probate judges who are issuing same-sex licenses when he raised the topic again this week," Gerlach writes, noting there is an age limit for being Chief Justice, but not for Governor.
Alabama's current governor, Robert Bentley, is on the second term, and thanks to term limits, he cannot run again when his term ends after the November 2018 elections.
"The campaign tactic Moore used this week is an old and familiar one," Gerlach notes.
“Demagoguery is as much a part of the American political tradition as kissing babies. It is the engine that drives voters to kick the can down the road and into the voting booth,” wrote Gov. George Wallace’s daughter, Peggy Wallace Kennedy, this week in an op-ed piece headlined “Roy Moore is more dangerous than my father.”
Gerlach observes, rightly, that the "more folks on the left decry his order, issued this week, the more folks on the right will vow to support him in the future. And that’s the support he needs to run for governor."
And as is too often the case, gay people and our rights will be, effectively, on the ballot in Alabama in 2018 once again.
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