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Extremist Third Party Courts 'Ten Commandments Judge'

The extremist Constitution Party courts former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore for the 2004 presidential race.

Roy Moore, ousted earlier this year as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, has been compared by critics to the late Gov. George Wallace.

When he refused to bend to a federal court order demanding that his Ten Commandments statue be removed from Alabama's judicial building, Moore echoed Wallace's defiant stand against federal demands to integrate public schools. Moore, who was elected chief justice as a Republican, often cites Wallace's assertion that "there's not a dime's worth of difference" between Republicans and Democrats.

Now, Moore is considering one more echo of Wallace: mounting a third-party run for president, as Wallace did with surprising success in 1968, when he won five states.

As this issue went to press, Moore was slated to be a featured speaker at the Constitution Party's national convention in Valley Forge, Pa., June 23-26. The party, which was on 41 state ballots in the 2000 presidential election, claims 320,000 members, making it the third largest in the U.S.

Its extremist platform calls for banning all abortions, extinguishing the "homosexual agenda," abolishing income taxes and stopping all immigration. Most appealing to Moore, the party wants to make Old Testament code the law of the land.

Since his removal as chief justice, Moore has given a series of six speeches to state gatherings of Constitution Party members, most recently in Missouri. His attorney, Herb Titus, was the party's vice presidential candidate in 1996, when it was called the U.S. Taypayers Party.

Under both names, the party has tried in past years to attract big-name candidates to top its ticket, and this year's presumptive presidential nominee — little-known Maryland attorney Michael Peroutka, a member of the pro-Moore, neo-Confederate hate group, League of the South — said he would step aside if Moore decided to mount a candidacy.

Even if Peroutka ends up as the nominee, the Constitution Party appears set on a Southern strategy this November. Peroutka says the party hopes to take right-wing votes away from President George W. Bush with "support not only from guys with Confederate flags in their trucks, but also those with the Southern cross in their hearts." Michael Hill, fiery leader of the League of the South, is also scheduled to address the party convention.