Moore Censures

Alabama Canon of Judicial Ethics 2A says “A judge should respect and comply with the law.”

As reported in many places (see, e.g. this post ) Alabama Supreme Court Justice Parker recently wrote in an editorial piece that Alabama’s Supreme Court was under no obligation to follow a recent US Supreme Court decision (Roper v. Simmons) because:

“State supreme court judges should not follow obviously wrong decisions simply because they are precedents. After all, a judge takes an oath to support the Constitution — not to automatically follow activist judges who believe their own devolving standards of decency trump the text of the Constitution.”

This might sound good as a matter of policy, but the law is that the Supreme Court alone has the prerogative to overrule its own decisions. (See this case and this case ). Justice Parker’s job was simply to apply Roper. If the state did not like the result, the state could have appealed to the United States Supreme Court. Maybe then Scotus would have overruled Roper. That is their choice. It was not Justice Parker’s. Thus, by saying he would disregard binding Supreme Court precedents, Justice Parker has said he will act in a manner directly opposed to the law. If that is not a failure to ‘respect and comply with the law’ nothing is.

Furthermore, Justice Parker insulted the justices of the Supreme Court by calling them ‘activists’ and by saying their standards of decency are ‘devolving.’ Insulting fellow jurists violates Canon 2B, which states:

A judge should at all times maintain the decorum and temperance befitting his office and should avoid conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice which brings the judicial office into disrepute.

Was Justice Parker’s screeching attack on the integrity of other judges conduct in accord with ‘the decorum and temperance benefiting his office?’ Surely not.

For these reasons, the ethics complaint filed against Justice Parker (hat tipBamacrat) is anything but, as Justice Parker described it, frivolous. He did not publish a law review article fairly critiquing the relationship between Scotus and the State Supreme Courts, rather in a newspaper editorial he personally attacked his fellow jurists and arrogantly claimed to be above the law. This man, like his mentor Roy Moore, has brought shame on his office, the practice of law, and the State of Alabama. Regardless of whether his beliefs are reasonable or not, he should be reprimanded for his lack of class and professionalism.

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