By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Roy Moore is seeking to become Alabama’s Chief Justice again. Thursday, Alabama’s most famous living jurist agreed to an exclusive phone interview with ‘The Alabama Political Reporter.’
In addition to being a sitting jurist on the Alabama Supreme Court the elected Alabama Chief Justice is the head of the Alabama Court system in much the same way as the Governor is the head of the executive branch. The biggest issue facing the next Chief Justice is how to deal with receiving less funds from the Alabama Legislature to run the state’s court system. Chief Justice Moore said, “The legislature needs to understand that the courts are a branch of state government. They are not an agency.” Chief Justice Moore said, “The (anticipated) budget will be very difficult.” “The Circuit Clerks Offices are at half strength now.”
Former Chief Justice Moore said that he is the best person for the job of Chief Justice because he has the most experience. “He (current Alabama Chief Justice Chuck Malone) has only handled the budget for six months. I handled the budget of the court system for three years.” “I had to make $13 million in cuts in the first year.” Chief Justice Moore said that he also handled large budgets when he was in the military. As Chief Justice, Moore said that he drafted the bill to collect back fines and implemented the e-file system which has saved the court system time and money. “I not only reduced the budget I found ways to bring in more money for the courts.”
Next we asked Chief Justice Moore if the state’s finances would be better off today if former Governor Riley’s controversial Amendment One proposal had been passed by the voters in 2003. Chief Justice Moore said, “No it was the largest increase in taxes in the state’s history.” Moore said that some people will always argue that taxation is the solution to government but more revenues lead to more government and more waste. As an example, Moore pointed to the billion in stimulus dollars the state received from the Obama administration. The state got the one time money, spent it, and grew salaries with it contributing to the fiscal crisis the state is in now.
We asked Chief Justice Moore if the state could find cost savings through merging and combining some lower courts and even eliminating some circuit and district judges and even perhaps merging some rural county’s courthouses? Moore said that that would take legislative action and in some cases even amending the Alabama Constitution; but that that is not something he would advise. “Most of the courts I know of have a great caseload.” “We can eliminate some of the backload with mediation and arbitration.” Chief Justice Moore also said that the state could make better use of its retired judges to help with some of the backlog. Moore said that when he was a judge in Etowah County that he was able to decrease the backlogged cases through arbitration and mediation.
The next question we asked Chief Justice Moore was about gay marriage: The liberal special interests have changed the meaning of marriage. Even in pagan cultures like Rome and the Greeks, that were very tolerant of homosexuality (among other things) it was common law that marriage was a contract between a man and a woman for the production of and the raising of children (even for people who practiced homosexuality). The concept of a man marrying a man was unheard of until it was invented by modern day social liberals. How do we get back to the original intent of the law’s writers or is that even possible? Chief Justice Moore said “When you take the acknowledgement of God out of the law this is what we get.” Moore said that judicial activism by liberal judges have redefined the meaning of words. Chief Justice Moore said that the courts ought to go by the original intent of the law and go back to original meaning of the words as written at the time they were written.
We asked Moore: If federal law trumps state law as the federal government is telling us in HB56 and other areas such as your Ten Commandment case have the state court systems become constitutionally redundant? Chief Justice Moore said, “I don’t think the state courts are redundant no. There has been some intrusion by the federal courts.” Moore said that state courts need to stand up for their rights to uphold the Constitution and that this shows “ignorance of the Constitution” by some state judges.
We asked Chief Justice Moore about the overcrowded situation of our state prison system. Moore said that the prisons are the province of the Governor and the executive branch not the court system. That said, there are things that the courts can do to prevent jail overcrowding. Chief Justice Moore said, “Drug courts prevent a lot of prison overcrowding.” Moore said juvenile delinquent facilities and boot camp programs for people under 21 also help. Chief Justice Moore said that the court system can punish the people that deserve it and help the people that need help.
Our next question for the former Chief Justice was: How do we find ways to get rid of “non-violent” offenders without turning loose the very thieves and professional criminals that are making many of our Alabama neighborhoods so almost “hellish” to live in? Chief Justice Moore said “That is the job of the parole board.” The Chief Justice has an appointment on the board but the Board itself is under the Governor. “Sometimes dangerous people get turned loose. Nobody wants that to happen.”
We asked the Chief Justice if the state would still be able to function if the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act goes into full effect in 2014 forcing the state to pay for Obama’s massive Medicaid expansion. “I don’t think it is going to become law. I think the United States Supreme Court will overturn Obamacare.” Moore said, “The Foundation for Moral Law which I am president of has filed a brief” in the case before the U.S. Supreme case challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare. “It is a ridiculous piece of legislation.” The Chief Justice said that the government taking over your healthcare is not authorized under the Constitution.
Next we asked: In a recent Montgomery area debate the incumbent, Chuck Malone said that he would resign before he defied a federal court order (presumably even one he felt as a jurist was illegal. If the elected Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court resigns rather than oppose the whim of one low level unelected federal judge does that show that the Constitution as written by our founders is really not being followed? Chief Justice Moore said he thought that answer was “curious” and that “It shows that a lot of judges lack the backbone to follow their oath of office. Your oath is to follow the Constitution not to obey the next judge. Resigning in the face of an unlawful order is the ultimate surrender of a judge’s Constitutional duty to follow the Constitution.
Chief Justice Moore said that in his own case “the Lawfulness of the order was not decided upon.” “You can not blame the federal government. I was removed by an unelected panel of state judges.” Chief Justice Moore said the Federal court was wrong and all the other justices on Alabama’s Supreme Court agreed that the federal court judge was wrong, but they thought they were bound to follow the federal court order anyway. Judge Moore said that his case was not about the Ten Commandments but was about the acknowledgement of God.
Our next question of Judge Moore was: In past election cycles, and perhaps in future election depending on the outcome of the federal Bingo corruption trial, gambling money was flowing to some judicial races. Without speaking to the ethical conduct of some of those past races, knowing what we know now, would taking money from Milton McGregor, Ronnie Gilley, and the gambling interests be an ethical lapse if it were likely that those issues would be decided by the court? Chief Justice Moore said, “In my opinion, the only reason they gave that money was to influence the outcome of the court.” “I haven’t taken any money and I think it is unethical to take money” from the gambling interests. “A few dollars donations is one thing, but when campaigns were receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars it is self-evident that they were trying to influence the outcome of the courts.” Moore said that he wrote the State Supreme Court opinion that ultimately led to McGregor and Gilley’s illegal gambling operations being shut down.
Chief Justice Moore said that Alabama voter should elect him because: “I have got the most experience. I have risked life in Vietnam defending the Constitution. I have lost a job defending the Constitution.” Moore said that if restoring the Constitution is important to voters then he is the best candidate to be Chief Justice.
Former Chief Justice Moore said that he had fully recovered from his horseback riding accident and that he just had some cracked ribs.
Our final question for the candidate was: You have run for governor twice in the past and have even explored running for President, if elected will you be satisfied as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court or might you possibly run for another office in the future? Chief Justice Moore said, “I have no design to run for another office I would be very happy to be Chief Justice.
Former Chief Justice Roy Moore is running in the March 13th Alabama Republican Primary against both incumbent Chief Justice Chuck Malone and former Alabama Attorney General and current Mobile County presiding Judge Charlie Graddick. The winner of the Republican Primary will have to face Pelham Attorney and perennial candidate Harry Lyons (D) in the November 6th General Election. Former Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb (D) resigned from her position last year. Governor Robert Bentley then appointed his friend and Chief of Staff Chuck Malone to finish the remaining months of her term.
To learn more about Judge Roy Moore’s campaign