By Jean Cole & Adam Smith
Roy Moore, candidate for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, doesn't understand how any American can vote Democratic in the Nov. 6 election.
Moore, the former chief justice removed from office for refusing to remove a 5-ton statue of the Ten Commandments from the state Capitol, is running against Judge Bob Vance, a Democrat. Both men were in Limestone County Thursday, stumping for votes.
Moore told a crowd of Republicans who gathered Thursday at Mac’s Sports Bar & Steakhouse that the 2012 Democratic platform supports same-sex marriage and other unacceptable beliefs.
“Every Democrat had to sign this pledge to uphold the platform, including overturning DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act that says marriage must include a man and women),” Moore said. He said Democratic candidates also had to pledge to support “taxpayer-funded abortion” and “socialized medicine.”
He said the presidential race in November presents two very different directions for the country.
“Which way are we going?” Moore asked the crowd. “To Socialism and no limits on powers of government? Are we going to lose America in 2012? If Obama gets elected, it could be the end of our country. I’m not making that up. I’m very concerned. Where would our families be with same-sex marriage? I can’t imagine a child being raised without a mother. Can you imagine a child being raised without a father? That is what we are going to push on our children because we want to love? If you want to love, you’ll do what God says.”
Moore's speech focused on the national election stage but he did answer questions posed by those audience members who were members of the local Republican Party, in keeping with its bylaws.
Regarding the state court system he would oversee if elected chief justice, he told The News Courier the courts could not bear any more budget cuts because staffing in most counties is already 50 percent below what is needed. He said he would work to educate lawmakers about the needs of the court.
He said the courts return to the general fund each year nearly what it costs to operate them. He questioned how many branches of the government do that. He also said most citizens do not understand that the courts are a branch of government, not an agency, and that it plays a vital role in government.
Moore said people should not have to wait long periods for justice in criminal actions and legal remedies in the civil courts.
“It is said that justice delayed is justice denied,” Moore said.
Judge Roy Moore’s challenger in the Nov. 6 election has nearly as much name recognition as Moore.
Bob Vance has served as a circuit court judge in Jefferson County for 10 years. He inherited his love of the law honestly. His father, U.S. Appeals Court Judge Robert Vance, was killed in 1989 by a mail bomb sent by Walter Leroy Moody Jr.
When asked if that name recognition worked in his favor on the campaign trail, Bob Vance admitted that it hasn’t hurt.
His wife, Joyce White Vance, is the U.S. Attorney for the state’s Northern District. Two of their children, 9-year-old Ollie and 14-year-old Ellie, appear in a television commercial calling Vance a “nerd.”
“That was just something fun we did,” he said of the commercial. “I’m not afraid to poke fun at myself.”
In an effort to shore up support here, the judge was in Limestone County Thursday visiting with local lawyers and law-enforcement officers. He also took time to visit a fundraiser for Thomas Bauer, an Athens child who has been diagnosed with leukemia.
Vance realizes he faces a bit of an uphill battle, not only statewide, but also in Republican-leaning Limestone County. However, he said it would take a non-partisan effort to solve many problems facing the state’s court system.
“Our courts have been struggling and have been threatened by the severe budget problems the state has faced year after year,” he said. “Courts have had to cut back programs, services and there have been layoffs. We need a chief justice who will focus on real programs we face. That’s the reality.”
The chief justice not only serves as the state’s top legal interpreter, but also as an administrator for the state’s court system. Vance said he believes he has the skills and experience to tackle challenges and work with the state’s top lawmakers, both Republican and Democrat. He cast doubt on the fact Moore can do the same.
“Judge Moore was chief justice before, and the results were not very good,” he said. “We cannot afford to return to that situation given the difficulties we face. The chief justice, as with any leader in Montgomery, has a responsibility to honor the state and that’s commitment. I’m not interested in engaging in divisive politics or hot-button social issues that don’t affect the lives of most Alabamians. I want to get the job done.”