Justice Tom Parker

Justice Tom Parker

The fight goes on in Alabama over free-speech rights for judges.

A state rule bans them from commenting on just about everything just about anywhere.

WND reported weeks ago when it appeared that the attempt by the Southern Poverty Law Center – which has been linked in a federal court case to domestic terror and at one point put Dr. Ben Carson, one of the most admired leaders in America, on its “haters” list – to silence comments by an Alabama Supreme Court justice had backfired.

The left-wing activists had complained about Justice Tom Parker’s comments when he was interviewed on American Family Radio about the Obergefell same-sex “marriage” case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

SPLC claimed state rules and regulations forbid the judge from commenting on any case.

But the judge responded with a lawsuit of his own contending such restrictions on speech violate his rights. And now, while the SPLC complaint has been dismissed, an appeals court has affirmed that the trial needs to look into Parker’s claims and constitutional rights.

The ruling from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously backed a motion by Liberty Counsel, which has been working on Justice Parker’s case, to send the judge’s allegations of constitutional violations back to the trial court.

Now, in response to the surging pressure on the federal court from the state’s Judicial Inquiry Commission and the state attorney general to dismiss the case, lawyers at Liberty Counsel who are working on Parker’s behalf are arguing the case needs to be resolved.

“Justice Parker is challenging the rules governing the Alabama judges which have been abandoned in every other state and have been labeled ‘unconstitutional’ by the American Bar Association,” the lawyers explained. “These rules have chilled speech to such a great extent that it seeks to completely silence Alabama judges in any public setting.

“Seventeen months ago Justice Parker participated in a radio interview answering questions on a wide-range of issues, including his thoughts on matters of paramount constitutional importance. That single interview resulted in an ethical complaint being lodged against him by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which triggered a yearlong investigation by the JIC. This inquisition was based on nothing more than his exercise of his constitutionally protected freedom of speech. After lengthy litigation, the court has yet to even consider the merits of Justice Parker’s case,” Liberty Counsel explained.

“We are earnestly fighting for the free speech of not only Justice Parker but for every judge in Alabama. It is unbelievable that any state would force people to abandon their free speech rights, when everyone agrees that this speech restriction is unconstitutional,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. “We are focusing on restoring our nation’s guiding principles to Alabama. This lawsuit exposes a clear violation of the First Amendment that no one can honestly defend.”

Get the Whistleblower Magazine’s revelations about the SPLC, in its March 2015 edition of “The Hate Racket,” the complete story of how one group fools government into equating Christians and conservatives with Klansmen and Nazis – and rakes in millions doing it.

Staver pointed out that in addition to unconstitutional restrictions on speech, the state requires that a judge be suspended if the Judicial Inquiry Commission even files an allegation.

That issue also is being litigated in another case, after the JIC filed a complaint and then ruled against state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s administrative instructions to other judges.

The JIC later found it did not have the support to remove Moore from office, so instead its members manipulated the procedures to “suspend” him for the duration of his term on the high court, a move that also is being challenged in court.

Parker’s case focuses on the speech restriction.

The challenged provisions in the state’s Canons of Judicial Ethics were being used by SPLC to silence the protected speech of Justice Parker, Liberty Counsel explained.

The lower court had dismissed Justice Parker’s lawsuit on the grounds that the JIC’s pending investigation required federal courts to abstain from the matter.

But then the JIC dismissed SPLC’s claims and Liberty Counsel filed a motion to have the case returned to the lower court to address the merits of the legal challenge.

“This action is crucial since the violation of First Amendment rights is capable of being (and likely to be) repeated in this and future cases. The JIC objected and argued that the case should be dismissed. The federal court of appeals sided with Liberty Counsel,” the legal team explained.

Alabama is the only state in the nation that automatically removes a judge from the bench when a charge is issued. Alabama provides no due process. The case can drag on for months or years, as is the instance with Chief Justice Roy Moore, Liberty Counsel explained.

The American Bar Association took the position several years ago that such a restriction is unconstitutional and violates the First Amendment. Alabama, however, retained the limitation.

The case is against the JIC and members Billy Bedsole, David Scott, Randall Cole, Craig Pittman and others.

The 11th Circuit ruling said the case is “remanded in full to the district court to consider the issue of mootness, in addition to any other arguments concerning jurisdiction and the merits of the complaint.”

What began as an attempt by SPLC to hush Justice Parker may end up providing him much more protection for the speech of his choice, and the appeals court “denied as moot” the JIC’s request the case be dismissed.

At the lower court level, U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins acknowledged the First Amendment issues that arise when SPLC, in a political season, attempts to use an agency of state government to suppress speech with which it disagrees.

Get the Whistleblower Magazine’s revelations about the SPLC, in its March 2015 edition of “The Hate Racket,” the complete story of how one group fools government into equating Christians and conservatives with Klansmen and Nazis – and rakes in millions doing it.

The case against Parker developed as part of SPLC’s war on traditional-marriage advocates in the state.

SPLC even briefly put Dr. Ben Carson, former GOP candidate for president, on its list of “haters” because of his views on marriage. Moore also was caught up in the fight.

SPLC was linked to a domestic terror case when a gunman, Floyd Corkins, relied on its “hate” list to attempt mass murder at the Family Research Council’s office in Washington, D.C.

Corkins was sentenced to prison for domestic terrorism after admitting on video he accessed SPLC’s recommendations to pick a target for his attack. SPLC identified FRC as a hate group because it holds to a biblical definition of homosexuality.

WND reported a video showed Corkins entering the FRC offices and confronting Leo Johnson.

SPLC’s attack and abrupt change of course on Carson were described in a commentary by Joseph Farah, founder and editor of WND.

“Apparently, the racketeering outfit that poses as a ‘progressive’ civil liberties group realized it had crossed a bridge too far in its smear efforts against, quite possibly, the most respected black leader in America (and, yes, I include Barack Obama and all members of his administration and frequent White House visitors such as Al Sharpton),” he wrote.

“The group’s stock-in-trade is raising hundreds of millions of dollars through fanning the flames of phantom threats posed almost exclusively by those who love America and its Constitution. The others are a collection of actual scum-of-the-earth racists, neo-Nazis and other certifiable lunatics who, through guilt by association, are intended to reflect badly on the liberty proponents and Christians and Jews on the list, who are the SPLC’s real targets.”

He noted SPLC posted Carson on its hate list then removed him.

“Think about how shameless SPLC really is: [retired Lt. Gen. Jerry] Boykin and [Tony] Perkins [both now with the Family Research Council] are still on the list despite the fact that the group inspired a domestic terrorist and would-be mass murderer to conduct an armed attack on their Family Research Council years ago with the intent of shooting and killing every single employee and leaving a Chik-fil-A sandwich on their corpses. That guy, by the way, now serving time in an attack that resulted in a non-fatal bullet wound to FRC’s black security guard, never made it to the SPLC’s ‘hate’ list, despite getting his marching orders from the group,” Farah wrote.

 

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