Alabama Judicial Panel Says No to Christian Coalition Voter Guides

Church & State, November 2000 | Go to article overview

Alabama Judicial Panel Says No to Christian Coalition Voter Guides


Alabama's Judicial Inquiry Commission has warned candidates for state judgeships not to answer a questionnaire from the Christian Coalition or risk being investigated.

The Commission said TV preacher Pat Robertson's political group has no right to quiz judicial candidates on issues such as abortion, the legalization of gambling and tax aid to home schooling parents. The nine-member panel said sitting judges who answer the questionnaire run the risk of violating the state's Canons of Judicial Ethics, which forbid judges from giving their opinions on matters that may come before the court.

The Commission has already brought charges against one judge, Harold See, accusing him of airing misleading ads against Etowah County Judge Roy Moore as the two competed in the Republican primary for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. (Ironically, Moore is a Christian Coalition favorite best known for displaying the Ten Commandments in his courtroom and opening some sessions with Christian prayer.)

Coalition leaders in the state had planned to use the answers on the questionnaire to compile voter guides. John Giles, president of the state Coalition chapter, called the Commission's action a violation of free speech.

"It's like sticking a match to the U.S. Constitution," Giles told The Birmingham News. He added, "We believe the public deserves and wants to know who a candidate is before they vote for that person."

In other news about the Christian Coalition:

* The Greene County, Mo., Christian Coalition chapter apparently didn't get the word urging local affiliates to pretend to be non-partisan. …

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