Political Animal


March 14, 2012 12:59 PM The Return of Judge Roy Moore

By Ed Kilgore

It didn’t get a lot of attention in all the talk about the GOP presidential primary, but down-ballot in Alabama, a very famous name reappeared. Roy Moore, the so-called “Ten Commandments Judge” deposed as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2003 for defying a federal court order to remove a monument to the Decalogue from his courtroom, won the GOP nomination for his old judicial gig. He beat an appointed incumbent and a former state Attorney General, both of whom massively outspent him, narrowly winning a majority and thus avoiding a runoff.

While Moore did promise not to bring back his monument (which he carried around the country on a trailer for a while after he lost his gavel), he also attributed his victory to “God’s favor.” He was last on an Alabama ballot in 2010, when he finished a poor fourth in the GOP gubernatorial primary. After some appearances at various Tea Party functions, Moore actually announced a presidential campaign for 2012, soon abandoned for lack of interest and money.

Moore’s notoriety could give his Democratic opponent in November, Harry Lyon, a lift, though every member of the state Supreme Court is a Republican in that very conservative state. Students of southern politics may remember that mobilizing the business community to engineer a GOP takeover of Alabama’s once-famously-plaintiff-friendly court system was one of Karl Rove’s early projects. Ironically, the state’s business community was divided between Moore’s two primary opponents in the present race, giving this strange old man his opening.

In a fitting tribute to his rather old-school worldview, Moore rode a horse to the polls yesterday to cast his vote. Now he’s got a ticket to ride for real, and could soon be back on the bench dispensing his peculiar brand of theocratic justice—truly a man for our times, given what we are hearing on the GOP presidential campaign trail.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Mitch on March 14, 2012 1:24 PM:

    "... truly a man for our times ..."

    Terrifying, yet true. Sometimes I really do think that we are on our way back to another Dark Age. Moore, and his fellow theocrats, scare me more than Darth Cheney ever did.

  • markj111 on March 14, 2012 3:24 PM:

    Unfortunately, the Democratic candidate is also a major loon.

    Recently [Lyon] was quoted by the Montgomery Advertiser as proposing to hang a few illegal immigrants to get the attention of the rest.


    My idea is to bring attention to the problem and let the Legislature [and courts] decide, Lyon said. Id give them 90 days to make arrangements to make them leave and if after that, youd have to go to public execution.

    From the Washinton Post 1998:

    Harry Lyon, a former Republican candidate for state auditor, is in serious condition after he was shot Sept. 6 and found lying face down in a pool of chocolate syrup. Robert Lee Black, Lyon's neighbor, was charged with attempted murder; Black said he shot Lyon in the neck after finding him pouring Hershey's Chocolate Syrup on Black's car. The two neighbors have apparently had previous disputes. Lyon, a Pelham attorney, unsuccessfully has sought a number of state offices since 1980 as both a Democrat and Republican. His most recent campaign was the June primary, in which he sought to unseat incumbent State Auditor Pat Duncan (R).

  • martin on March 14, 2012 4:24 PM:

    As I said longer in an earlier thread, I fully expect Moore to bring back the Rock and we will have to go through it all over again.

    Rock or no Rock, he WILL use his office to inflict his brand of christianity on the people of Alabama, and a large number of those people will love it.

    He is a true believer up against a nutcase nobody. The only redeeming part about this is the AL Supreme Court sucks already and the Biddness Community does not like Moore.