Sunday, May 14, 2006

It looks as if we're not going to have Ten Commandments judge Roy Moore to kick around anymore after Alabama's GOP gubernatorial primary -- as of last month, Moore was trailing by 44 points among potential GOP voters -- but a few Alabama far-right judicial candidates have a new plan: let's become judges who ignore the U.S. Supreme Court:

Several Republican justices on the Alabama Supreme Court, which one political expert considers the most conservative in modern history, find themselves under assault this election year -- from the right.

Justice Tom Parker is challenging Chief Justice Drayton Nabers in the June 6 GOP primary, and a like-minded slate is taking on three other Republican incumbents.

...Parker and his allies ... reject the notion that state courts must automatically bow to precedents of federal judges.

Parker, a protege of ousted Chief Justice Roy Moore, ... contends that the justices were wrong to intervene in a dispute between Moore and the plaintiffs who sued him over the [Ten Commandments] monument....

They have [also] faulted the incumbent justices for applying what they consider wrongly decided Supreme Court precedents. Exhibit A in their critique is the case of Renaldo Adams, a Montgomery man who raped and murdered a woman during a home invasion in 1997. Adams was 17 at the time.

The state Supreme Court last year reversed Adams' death sentence following a March 2005 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that executions are unconstitutional for defendants who were younger than 18 at time of the crime.

Parker said the state Supreme Court should have upheld Adams' death sentence....

"My oath is to the Constitution, not the U.S. Supreme Court." ...

How far to the right is this? It's to the right of Antonin Scalia:

Allowing lower courts to do so is "no way to run a legal system," Scalia wrote.

Scalia's opinion stated that allowing lower courts to ignore U.S. Supreme Court precedent makes case law unreliable.

"The result will be to crown arbitrariness with chaos," it states.

And Parker's opponent also makes a commonsense point:

"It would create chaos," he said. "Then 240 lower court judges in the state of Alabama could disregard the Alabama Supreme Court."

If the anger on the right continues to build, this is where some right-wingers could be headed: toward a belief in outright non-cooperation with the federal government. Remember, this is what rabble-rousers say when we have a federal bench dominated by Republican appointees. Think of what these people might propose if a Democrat wins in '08 and starts making judicial appointments.

I don't even know if this angrier-than-thou judicial slate has a chance in Alabama. But their philosophy is frightening, and someday it could spread.

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