The far-left and terror-linked activists at the Southern Poverty Law Center have been handed a huge loss in their attempt to silence a state judge who dared to speak out in favor of traditional marriage.
This week a federal court in Alabama issued a preliminary injunction allowing Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker to speak out on issues current under review in the state’s court system.
Parker, who is in the running to be chief justice, gave his views on marriage in a radio program several years ago, and SPLC filed a complaint against him for the comments. The group is known best for its list of “hate” groups in America, but since the list includes conservative organizations that disagree with its pro-abortion and pro-homosexual agenda, it is known itself as a “hate” organization.
SPLC was linked to domestic terror in the court case against Floyd Corkins, who attacked the Family Research Council in Washington because of its Christian positions on marriage and sexuality.
The new ruling concerns a complaint SPLC filed against Parker under a state judicial rule that effectively forbids judges from speaking on any case that is in progress.
The complaint was dismissed shortly later, but Parker’s countersuit against the state over his speech rights continued.
And now the district court has granted an injunction that “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.”
Liberty Counsel pointed out that before the order, all Alabama judges were prevented from commenting publicly on any cases anywhere in the United States by Alabama state Judicial Canon 3A(6)
But the federal court found 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.”
Liberty Counsel said the federal court ruled Parker has shown a substantial likelihood of success on the merits that Canon 3A(6) is likely unconstitutional because it is too broad.
“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,” the court said.
Similar judicial standards were abandoned by other states and most bar associations years ago.
The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission has shown a willingness to use the ban to punish and silence judges like Parker, Liberty Counsel said.
It was in 2015 that Parker answered questions in a radio interview on a wide-range of issues, including constitutional matters, triggering the SPLC complaint.
“This is an important victory for free speech for not just Justice Tom Parker but for all judges. 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,” said Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel.
“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,” said Staver.
The federal court said the state rule “is a content-based restriction” and therefore is presumptively unconstitutional. The court found Parker has shown a likelihood of ultimate success in his arguments.
The injunction was granted because, at least partly, there is an election cycle going on in which the public needs to know the positions of judicial candidates, said Judge W. Keith Watkins.