Connect with us

Elections

Court grants Tom Parker injunction in his case vs the JIC

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Friday, federal district judge Keith Watkins court in Alabama issued a preliminary injunction in favor of Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker.

This injunction grants all Alabama judges the freedom to publicly comment on cases pending outside of Alabama, and judges may also comment on a pending case in Alabama if their comments cannot reasonably be considered to influence the outcome.

Previous to this injunction, all Alabama judges were prevented from commenting publicly on any cases anywhere in the United States by Alabama state Judicial Canon 3A(6).

The court ruled there is “a likelihood that Canon 3A(6) is overbroad when it touches speech about issues, particularly when such speech concerns pending or impending proceedings outside the Alabama system, or where the comments could have no impact on the outcome or fairness of a proceeding.”

Advertisement

The Court found that Justice Parker has shown a substantial likelihood of success on the merits that Canon 3A(6) is likely unconstitutional because it is too broad. It stated, “a judicial candidate’s view of issues, especially local and domestic ones, is of immense interest to an electorate choosing which judicial candidate to support. Yet when Alabama prohibits judicial candidates from speaking about them simply because they happen to arise in the context of a proceeding somewhere, the state has shirked its responsibility of narrowly tailoring its speech restrictions.”

Judicial standards similar to Alabama’s canon were abandoned years ago by the American Bar Association. Alabama’s canon of judicial ethics was written back in 1972.

Parker’s defense said that this speech restriction is so broad it would have prohibited 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.

“Justice Tom Parker was investigated by the Judicial Inquiry Commission for comments he gave on a radio talk show on October 6, 2015, as part of his reelection campaign for the Alabama Supreme Court. The topic of discussion was the relationship between federal and state courts, especially as it pertained to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015). That decision, which struck down as unconstitutional state laws that excluded homosexual relationships from recognition of marriage, was issued on June 26, 2015.

During the same period the U.S. Supreme Court was grappling with questions of marriage, so, too, was the Alabama Supreme Court, on which Justice Parker served,” Judge Watkins wrote.

Because the Southern Poverty Law Center did not like Justice Parker’s opinion, they lodged an ethics complaint against Justice Parker with the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) that then launched a year and a half long investigation of the sitting Alabama Supreme Court Justice.

Parker filed suit against the JIC, as a preemptive measure.  The district court first dismissed Justice Parker’s lawsuit because the JIC’s investigation was still pending and the federal court abstained from the matter. However, while the appeal of that case was pending, the JIC dismissed the SPLC’s complaint. The Court of Appeals unanimously agreed to Justice Parker’s request for the lower court to rule on the lawsuit against the canon because of its overly broad and unconstitutional restrictions on judicial speech.

Parker is represented by Liberty Counsel.

“This is an important victory for free speech for not just Justice Tom Parker but for all judges,” Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel Mat Staver said. “This is also a victory for the public because they have a right hear what judges want to say about the law, especially during elections. It was unreasonable to gag every judge in Alabama from talking about current issues. Every judge who teaches law school students would be silenced by this broad restriction on speech. Now, they are free to speak and teach. The muzzle has been removed.”

Parker’s suit against the JIC now goes to trial.  Judge Watkins has enjoined the JIC from enforcing canon 3A of the Alabama code of judicial ethics restricting the speech of Alabama judges.

“A judge should abstain from public comment about a pending or impending proceeding in any court, and should require similar abstention on the part of court personnel subject to his direction and control. This subsection does not prohibit judges from making public statements in the course of their official duties or from explaining for public information the procedures of the court.” Ala. Canon of Judicial Ethics 3A(6).

Parker is currently an associate justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and is running for the position of chief justice against appointed Chief Justice Lyn Stuart in the Republican Primary.  Former Judge Bob Vance Jr. is running for chief justice as a Democrat.

The major party primary is on June 5, 2018.

Continue Reading

Bill Britt

The fix was in

Bill Britt

Published

on

Montgomery Circuit Judge James Anderson’s ruling to allow out-of-state political action committees to donate to in-state campaigns without disclosing its donors through PAC-to-PAC transfers may be the legal fulcrum Democrats need to target key Republican officeholders in the state.

On Wednesday, attorney general candidate Troy King filed a lawsuit in Montgomery County Circuit Court seeking a restraining order to prevent his opponent, appointed Attorney General Steve Marshall, and his campaign from using donations it received from the Republican Attorney Generals Association (RAGA) which doesn’t disclose some of its mega-donors by using PAC-to-PAC transfers.

Judge Anderson ruled against King and dismissed the lawsuit in Marshall’s favor.

Marshall, unlike an ordinary plaintiff, wasn’t present at the hearing before Judge Anderson, which should have alerted the public that the fix was already in.

The State’s Ethics Commission will likely weigh-in on King’s question soon— finding that RAGA’s actions were unlawful—but Thursday’s judgment holds for now, with no consequences for Marshall, win or lose.

Advertisement

In 2010, the state’s newly minted Republican supermajority outlawed PAC-to-PAC transfers as part of its effort to show voters that there was a new day in Montgomery politics.

Since 2010, both Republicans and Democrats have found ways to circumvent FPCA restrictions, but until Thursday, there wasn’t a court ruling that opened a flooded-gate to renew PAC-to-PAC campaigns using outside interest groups.

Republican conservatives who believe that undisclosed donors shouldn’t control the state’s election process through hidden contributions should worry.

Is it now legal for pro-abortion groups to finance judicial races with stealth campaign donations to defeat pro-life candidates like Supreme Court Justices like Tom Parker?

What about Gov. Kay Ivey? Is it now legal for The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) to upend her campaign with hidden contributions to her rival, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox?

Ethic Commission Executive Director Tom Albritton has all but definitively stated that RAGA’s contributions are illegal, but it’s too little too late for this election.

Perhaps none of this matters because it seems that many of the Republicans who passed these bans in 2010, don’t seem to honestly believe in them or any of the ethics reforms that they once championed.

So once again, it’s winning, not the law, that matters, or as a prominent Montgomery attorney said, “When you have a Democrat judge, a Democrat lawyer and a Democrat attorney general what else did you expect?”

More, I guess.

 

Continue Reading

Elections

Court denies King’s bid to block RAGA money from Marshall

Charlie Walker

Published

on

A Montgomery County Circuit Court judge denied on Thursday the Troy King campaign’s request for a restraining order preventing Attorney General Steve Marshall from spending thousands in alleged illegal donations.

Judge James Anderson agreed with Marshall defense attorney Ted Hosp that a state court has no standing to block contributions flowing from out-of-state political action committees (PACs).

King has argued that donations from the Republican Attorneys General Association to Marshall violate the state’s ban on PAC-to-PAC transfers. Anderson said the remedy for King’s complaint was the Alabama Ethics Commission, where a complaint is currently pending.

“I’m having a real problem with whether I have jurisdiction, especially to determine that something illegal has happened with a federal PAC,” Anderson during the hearing. “It’s not illegal for a federal PAC to make these transfers.”

Anderson said Alabama’s law that bans the transfers, passed in 2010, prohibits the transfers from being made. There are no laws against candidates receiving the donations, he said — a point with which attorneys from both sides seemed to agree with Anderson.

Advertisement

Anderson was unmoved by King’s attorney, Agricola’s, argument that failing to block the use of campaign funds received in such a way would open up an avenue for all campaigns to avoid Alabama PAC-to-PAC transfer ban — simply move the donations to out-of-state PACs before rerouting them to other PACs and then back to the candidates.

Regardless, Thursday’s ruling means Marshall can move forward spending the recent $300,000 he received from RAGA — a donation that brings his total received from that group to more than $700,000.

King disagreed with the decision, but said his only appeal would be to “the court of public opinion.” He then took several shots at Marshall for violating the spirit of the PAC-to-PAC ban, which was put in place to prevent political donors from hiding the original source of donations.

“Steve Marshall has given Democrats the weapon they need to destroy the entire Republican Party using out-of-state liberal money,” King said in a statement.

King also took a shot at Anderson, noting that he is a prominent Democrat, and inferring that his ruling was politically motivated.

A release from Marshall’s office called the court filing and ethics commission complaint from King a “political stunt.”

 

Continue Reading

Elections

Businessman Tim James endorses Ainsworth

Brandon Moseley

Published

on

Thursday, 2010 gubernatorial candidate, and respected businessman Tim James endorsed State Representative Will Ainsworth’s (R-Guntersville) candidacy for lieutenant governor.

“I’m Tim James, and I am supporting Will Ainsworth for Lt. Governor of Alabama,” James wrote in a statement. “I know Will personally, and he is ready to serve the people of Alabama at the highest level of government.”

“Will is a businessman who has NOT been part of the Montgomery political system for many years, which is exactly what Alabama needs,” James said. “Recently, Will’s opponent attacked him with an ad that leads people to believe he is a ‘common thief’ because he of an incident that occurred decades ago. The problem is that his opponent didn’t tell the whole story, and she purposely left out the facts.”

“The truth is the so-called crime was a harmless college prank where he and some buddies ‘kidnapped’ a fiberglass tiger in Auburn, hid it, and got caught,” James said. “The other ‘serious’ infraction that Will’s opponent mentions is a ‘boating arrest,’ but, once again, it turns out it was just a ticket for not having a registration on a boat. The basic question here is simple – which is worse? A teenage college prank involving a fiberglass tiger and a boating registration ticket, or the false attack by Will’s opponent that is intended to mislead the people of Alabama. To intentionally omit the facts is the same as lying. Had Twinkle included the facts, any reasonable person would roll their eyes. Personally, I’m not very concerned about a silly, decades-old college prank, but I am concerned about a candidate who willfully and knowingly misleads. For these reasons, I urge Alabama voters to vote for Will Ainsworth on Tuesday, July 17.”

James ran for the Republican nomination for Governor in 2002 and 2010 and is the son of former Governor Fob James, who served from 1979 to 1983 and again from 1995 to 1999.

Advertisement

The Ainsworth campaign has heaped criticism upon Twinkle Cavanaugh’s recent advertising blitz attacking Ainsworth as “deceptive and misleading.” Cavanaugh’s campaign however claims that Ainsworth’s extremely wealthy father and family connections protected him from the sorts of punishments that Alabamians of less lofty social status would have received if they had committed the same offense. Cavanaugh’s campaign claims that Ainsworth’s father had to spend $10,000 to replace the Chamber of Commerce sponsored Auburn tiger sculptures that Ainsworth and his friends stole. The Cavanaugh campaign has also publicized an account from one of the young artists who said that she was emotionally devastated when the tiger that she spent hours decorating was stolen by Ainsworth and his accomplices.

Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh (R) is the President of the Alabama Public Service Commission (PSC) and was the first female Chair of the Alabama Republican Party.

Republican voters go to the polls on Tuesday to select which of the candidate’s they would prefer as Lieutenant Governor.

Polls open at 7:00 am and close at 7:00 pm. To participate in the election you must bring a valid photo ID with you to the polls.

The eventual winner of the Republican primary will face Muscle Shoals area pastor Dr. Will Boyd (D) in the general election on November 6.

Continue Reading

Authors

Advertisement

Facebook

Advertisement

Trending

Court grants Tom Parker injunction in his case vs the JIC

by Brandon Moseley Read Time: 4 min
0