Alabama Supreme Court Candidate Tom Parker Has Extremist Ties
In Alabama, a well-known Supreme Court candidate lauds an antebellum slave trader and appears with hate group leaders
By Heidi Beirich and Mark Potok
Tom Parker, Republican candidate for the Supreme Court of Alabama, isn't shy about touting his conservative credentials. He despises "liberal judges" who are "trying to take God out of public life." He is an "ardent opponent" of gay marriage, and "a national leader in the fight against Political Correctness." He underlines his close ties to Christian Right leaders like Phyllis Schlafly and James Dobson.
Most importantly, of course, Parker is running as the protégé of Roy Moore, the Alabama chief justice ejected from his job after defying a federal court order to remove his two-ton Ten Commandments monument from the Supreme Court rotunda.
But Tom Parker has some other friends, too. It's just that he doesn't spend much time bragging publicly about this batch of colleagues and supporters.
In July, Parker made his way to the Selma home of Pat and Butch Godwin, who were holding a birthday party to honor Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest, a wealthy slave trader who became the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. (Forrest also presided over the massacre of some 250 black prisoners of war at Ft. Pillow, Tenn.) The Godwins run Friends of Forrest Inc., which owns a Forrest statue the Godwins spent two years unsuccessfully trying to place on public property.
Standing on his friends' Confederate battle flag-bedecked front porch, Parker rallied the crowd. Later, one listener lauded him as "a man not afraid of the flag."
The Godwins are tried and true neo-Confederates. Pat Godwin's latest crusade is to block any acknowledgement on the Capitol grounds of the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march — a goal of the Alabama Historical Commission. In a July E-mail, Godwin railed at "the trash that came here in 1965," complaining that those who honor the civil rights movement "are aiding and abetting the ultimate goal of the ONE WORLD ORDER — to BROWN AmeriKa and annihilate Anglo-Celtic-European culture!"
Pat Godwin and her close friend Ellen Williams recently put together a packet of documents that they say proves that the march was the "Mother of All Orgies" and the marchers were motivated by "money, sex and alcohol."
A month earlier, in June, Parker showed up at the Elba, Ala., funeral of Alberta Stewart Martin, believed to have been the last living widow of a Confederate veteran. He made himself a quick favorite by giving away hundreds of miniature Confederate battle flags to the 300 people, many in period dress, who gathered for this major neo-Confederate event.
And, in a photo widely circulated in the neo-Confederate world, he is seen with what were apparently two friends of his: Mike Whorton, Alabama state leader of the League of the South hate group, and Leonard Wilson, a longtime segregationist who is on the national board of the Council of Conservative Citizens (see also Communing with the Council), a hate group that has described black people as "a retrograde species of humanity."
Parker, who was Moore's spokesman and legal adviser but lost that job when Moore was fired, did not return repeated telephone calls requesting comment. Pat and Butch Godwin also declined to return messages left at their home, which is known fondly in neo-Confederate circles as "Fort Dixie."