Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Interview With Justice Roy Moore

Justice Roy Moore of Alabama is exploring running for President of the United States. In case you are not familiar with Justice Roy Moore, he is the famous Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama who proudly installed a two-and-a-half-ton monument of the Ten Commandments in the Rotunda of the Supreme Court Building, and then equally proudly defied a Federal Court order to remove it.

With this claim to fame and a preacher's zeal Justice Moore is looking at the Presidency. He is absolutely sincere. He calls things like he sees them. He can quote case law, and he knows it in abundance. One may not necessarily agree with his conclusions, particularly in light of America as a pluralistic society, but one cannot doubt his sincerity.

I received a rare opportunity for a little-known blogger. I had expressed interest in writing about Justice Moore on my blog. Then came an invitation to come to a Meet and Greet with him. The invitation was modified slightly so that I would be able to interview him. Wow!

The first thing that strikes you about the man is his unabashed expression of his faith in God. The next thing that strikes you is his absolute sincerity. The third is his complete confidence in his convictions. The man is totally real, much more of a preacher than a politician. As far as I can tell, he has no grand idea for building the economy, reducing unemployment, or for promoting America's place in the world. His vision is to return America to God.

And in that, I think Justice Moore would be a far better preacher than a politician. His vision of God is absolutely and entirely Christian. Today's United States is a very diverse nation, including a wide variety of faiths -- and nonfaiths. He states that belief in God is an absolute prerequisite for morality. I don't think he can conceive of a "moral atheist". Although I am acquainted with several myself, his inability to understand this point, along with quoting eighteenth- and nineteen-century jurists and presidents on the matter would be sure to rankle many.

Justice Moore seems weak on economic policy. He is not very familiar with the Ryan plan. His talk on economics is broad-brushed, something he doesn't seem to feel comfortable with. Give him something to quote case law with, and he will give you precision answers to make his point. But to compete in a campaign for the Presidency, I think he will need more than a preacher's zeal and a preacher's grasp of economics. He will need to brush up on economics and the great concerns in the nation on the budget, jobs, medicare, social security, financial protections, and the like. As for his openly anti-gay position (you can find this on http://morallaw.org/), he does get a bit touchy on it. To his credit, he later apologized for losing his temper.

This is my very first attempt at such an interview. The questions on my list are below (I didn't get to all of them). The questions didn't always come out quite like I had them on paper. For example, I stutter a bit. Yes, I was nervous (did I say it was my first attempt at such an interview?). At one point I got a well-deserved rebuke. On my last question he rebuked me for using Wikipedia as a source (a rebuke I accept and a mistake I will not make again!). And yes, the interview was done in a car -- on the way from a Meet and Greet to his speech at a local church.

As a note, before the interview and when the interview started, I told Justice Moore to regard me as the liberal press. He said that was fine with him, if I remembered he would answer me as if I was the liberal press.

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I am interviewing potential presidential candidate Roy Moore, who had been Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama. Today is Tuesday, May 24, 2011.

I want to thank you, Justice Moore, for this interview. A few questions.

1.  Your claim to fame is the controversy with the Ten Commandments -- both the monument issue which eventually led to your removal as Chief Justice, but also the hanging of the Ten Commandments in your courtrooms previously.

  As President of the United States, you will be required to "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

  How can you do this when you willfully defied a Court Order? In November 2003 you asserted that you would defy another court order  if given an opportunity.

2.    Do you think that the United States is a Christian Nation?

--  Even when the Founding Fathers disavowed such an idea? and Jefferson talked about a "wall of separation" between Church and State?

-- Do you believe that Biblical Law supersedes the Constitution?

-- Do you think the Constitution should be amended to require a religious test?

3.  Do you approve of the Ryan Plan for the Budget, which would replace Medicare with a voucher system that would require Seniors to attempt to purchase Health insurance on the open market?

4.  Do you think we should continue to pay subsidies to the Oil Companies?   (Didn't get to this one.)

5.  Do you think Social Security should be privatized?

6.  Since the removal of the Glass-Steagall restrictions, banking has moved to increasingly risky investment strategies, derivatives, securities, the housing crisis, etc. In response to the various crises making up the Financial Crisis, Congress voted to create a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This agency has been attacked as unnecessary. What is your position on the need for additional consumer protections in the Financial Marketplace?

7.  D.H. vs. H.H.
In February 2002
Your court decision: The State carries the power of the sword, that is, the power to prohibit conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution. It must use that power to prevent the subversion of children toward this lifestyle, to not encourage a criminal lifestyle...

Do you still consider homosexuality to be an act that warrants execution?

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OK, right at the last was where I made my mistake. I took this from Wikipedia.

He said I misquoted him. Granted, I quoted part of the decision (I only had a couple of minutes left). But from http://caselaw.findlaw.com/al-supreme-court/1303306.html , I can find this:

To disfavor practicing homosexuals in custody matters is not invidious discrimination, nor is it legislating personal morality.   On the contrary, disfavoring practicing homosexuals in custody matters promotes the general welfare of the people of our State in accordance with our law, which is the duty of its public servants.   Providing for the common good involves maintaining a public morality through both our criminal and civil codes, based upon the principles that right conscience demands, without encroaching on the jurisdiction of other institutions and the declared rights of individuals.

The State may not interfere with the internal governing, structure, and maintenance of the family, but the protection of the family is a responsibility of the State.   Custody disputes involve decision-making by the State, within the limits of its sphere of authority, in a way that preserves the fundamental family structure.   The State carries the power of the sword, that is, the power to prohibit conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution.   It must use that power to prevent the subversion of children toward this lifestyle, to not encourage a criminal lifestyle.


The family unit does consist, and always has consisted, of a “father, mother and their children, [and] immediate kindred, constituting [the] fundamental social unit in civilized society.”   Black's Law Dictionary 604 (6th ed.1990).   To reward a parent, who steps outside that unit by committing a “crime against nature” with custody of a child would represent a reprehensible affront to the laws of family government that the State must preserve.   The best interests of children is not promoted by such a subversion of fundamental law, the very foundation of the family and of society itself.   The State may not-must not-encourage the destruction of the family.

So I don't think I misquoted him. But like I said, the way I said the questions didn't always match what I had on paper. The way the last one came out was, "Do you sir, at this point, think that homosexuality should be an executable offense?"

Perhaps that was a teensy bit more inflammatory? I don't know. In any case, by that time we had gotten to the church, Judge Moore terminated the interview, and we went inside. After his speech he came to me and apologized for his reaction. I told him it was alright.

I do think he will need to define his position on minorities and minority rights -- even for the LGBT communities. After all, one cannot be a President for only part of the population. One needs to be a President for all the people.  

Below is the interview, unedited, and the meeting at the church afterward. Critiques (criticisms) of my fledgling interview (non?) skills will be cheerfully accepted. But perhaps this will help you get to know Judge Roy Moore better.

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He spoke for nearly an hour, so I have split the file into four parts.

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