Judge goes to court to regain free-speech rights

By Bob Unruh

Justice Tom Parker
Justice Tom Parker

An archaic rule that is such a flagrant violation of the Constitution the American Bar Association and every other state in the union have discarded it now is being challenged in federal court in Alabama by a judge.

State Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker, a candidate for the elected position of chief justice, is asking the court to block enforcement of Alabama Judicial Canon 3A(6) while his lawsuit against the rule develops.

The rule forbids sitting judges in Alabama from commenting on any case pending before any court in the country.

The non-profit legal group Liberty Counsel, which is representing the judge, explained the restriction on speech involves “any pending or impending case in any court of the country irrespective of whether the comments are likely to have any impact on the case.”

“Similar bans were abandoned long ago by the American Bar Association, and every other state in the nation have repealed these speech restrictive provisions, except Alabama. Alabama alone retains this type of ban, and Alabama’s Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) has shown its willingness to use the ban to punish and silence judges like Justice Parker if they comment on any case no matter how removed it may be from Alabama,” the organization explained.

“The speech restriction is so broad it prohibits a sitting judge who teaches or speaks to law students in a law school classroom from commenting on any pending case anywhere in the country.”

Get the Whistleblower magazine’s revelations about SPLC in “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 rule has a history of being used by the left, including the Southern Poverty Law Center, against conservative judges such as Parker.

SPLC, in fact, filed a complaint against Parker under the rule, but the state Judicial Inquiry Commission dismissed it.

“Had the JIC filed a charge, he would have automatically been removed from the Alabama Supreme Court pending the litigation,” Liberty Counsel said. “The SPLC hoped to remove Justice Parker by filing the complaint against him.”

“The judicial canon that prohibits judges from commenting on any case anywhere in the country is patently unconstitutional,” said Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Every judge who teaches law school students would be silenced by this broad restriction on speech.

Staver noted Parker is a candidate for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, arguing the judicial canon “stands as an unconstitutional impediment to actively discussing matters of grave public concern to Alabama voters.”

“Justice Parker is entitled to speak on the current state of the judicial branch during his candidacy,” he said.

SPLC and JIC have been trying for months to have Parker’s case against them dismissed.

But the federal courts have refused and most recently ordered the dispute to proceed to trial in the federal court.

‘Unconstitutional canon’

Parker sued JIC, alleging the state’s speech restrictions on judges violated his First Amendment rights. JIC and then-Attorney General Luther Strange had demanded that the case be dismissed, but a federal judge refused.

WND reported months ago when it appeared the attempt to silence Parker by liberals was backfiring.

The left-wing activists had complained about Parker 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, Parker’s complaints are moving forward.

Consequently, the state’s speech limits could be struck down.

The case explains that Parker’s constitutional rights already have been damaged by attempts to silence him in his position as associate justice.

“Justice Parker’s current campaign for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court magnifies this threat even more. Not only does Justice Parker actively engage in conversations with citizens as a sitting justice, now he must engage in campaign activities and events at which he would like to discuss his views on matters of importance to Alabama citizens and voters.”

He can’t, however, for fear of “offending the sensibilities of the SPLC, or for innocuously commenting on cases pending in other courts.”

The motion is for an order banning enforcement of the speech limit while the case is pending.

Get Whistleblower magazine’s revelations about SPLC in “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.


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