In my 2013 dystopian novel, Christian Nation, one of the first actions by the authoritarian populist who defeats Hillary Clinton in 2016 is to nominate Roy Moore to the Supreme Court. For many readers this was a step too far. Moore is one of the crankiest of the far-right fringe cranks; they found it unimaginable that he could be elevated to a position of national power and prominence in America in the 21st century. How times have changed.
Moore was, is, and always will be disqualified for high office by virtue of his record and beliefs. This truth has been largely ignored by the national media, which now has put all its anti-Moore eggs in the basket of 40-year-old sexual crime and/or misconduct.
Forgive me for quoting myself, but I re-read this morning what I had to say about Moore in Christian Nation, and want to share with you an excerpt:
“Roy Moore was one of the greatest heroes of the evangelical movement but was only vaguely known to the rest of the country . . . . Moore was a fundamentalist Christian of the more robust sort, having worked as a cowboy and kick-boxer, attributing his pugilistic successes to divine favor and intervention. As a state judge in Alabama, he displayed wooden Ten Commandments plaques in his courtrooms and opened his judicial sessions with prayers, sometimes calling on a clergyman to lead the jury members in conversation with God prior to the start of jury deliberations. . . . To drive home his fundamentalist belief that God was the sole legitimate source of law, and that all civil institutions must be subservient to God’s will, in 2001 he arranged for a five-thousand-pound granite monument to the Ten Commandments to be placed in the rotunda of the state courthouse. The federal courts ordered its removal, and Moore responded that the orders of the federal courts on such a matter had no legitimacy and that he obeyed only the orders of God and the great state of Alabama. The great state of Alabama responded by establishing a judicial commission that proceeded to remove him from office. . . . ‘Roy’s Rock’ then began is peripatetic travels in the American heartland, including appearances in thirty-one different states in one year alone. Moore became a folk hero to the Christian right, and in 2003 drafted the Constitution Restoration Act.”
For those who don’t remember, the “Constitution Restoration Act,” among other things, denied federal jurisdiction in any case where an official action is challenged because it is based on “acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.” In other words, it seeks to dismantle separation of church and state.
Subsequent to the publication of Christian Nation, Moore was re-elected to the Alabama Supreme Court, found guilty of the following, and again (permanently) suspended:
- disregarding a federal injunction
- demonstrating unwillingness to follow clear law
- abuse of administrative authority
- substituting his judgment for the judgment of the entire Alabama Supreme Court, including failure to abstain from public comment about a pending proceeding in his own court
- interference with legal process and remedies in the United States District Court and/or Alabama Supreme Court related to proceedings in which Alabama probate judges were involved, and
- failure to recuse himself from pending proceedings in the Alabama Supreme Court after making public comment and placing his impartiality into question.
Over the years Moore has navigated the far right fringe (what we now legitimize as the “alt-right”) espousing the view that President Obama is a Muslim foreigner (among a putrid stew of other conspiracy theories) and bizarre opinions on everything from preschool (a precursor to totalitarianism), evolution (“no such thing”), homosexuality (should be illegal), 9/11 (punishment by God for tolerance of gays and the rest of the liberal agenda), and Muslim representatives (should be barred from Congress).
U.S. senators are required to take an oath to “support and defend the constitution of the United States.” Moore, who has affirmed that he will not defend, or even obey, any part of the constitution or other laws that, in his view, conflicts with the word of God, cannot in good faith take the oath.
I fear that the exclusive focus on unproven long-past sexual crime and/or misconduct, which will strike some in Alabama as unfair, will backfire. Instead, we should focus on the person, his record, and his views. Like the President who now supports him, he is unfit for office, regardless of the truth of the recent allegations.
We face a freely-admitted, well-funded, brilliantly executed attempt to convert the Republican party into a Trump-centered alt-right populist movement that disregards the rule of law when it conflicts with its agenda. It is no surprise that Steve Bannon is so focused on this race. The election of Roy Moore could be a tipping point after which -- untethered from the norms of truth, reason, decency, or our traditional political culture -- we tumble precipitously into the abyss.