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SPLC ethics complaint: Alabama Supreme Court justice violated judicial ethics on extremist radio show

Justice Tom Parker derided federal judiciary and suggested that Alabama should defy the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision. 

The SPLC today filed a judicial ethics complaint alleging that Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker improperly commented on pending cases, disrespected the dignity of the judiciary and undermined public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.

The complaint cites comments made by Parker during an Oct. 6 radio show, “Focal Point,” hosted by Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association. Fischer has used his radio show to promote outrageous, denigrating claims about LGBT people, Muslims, Native Americans and African Americans.

In the interview, Parker not only discussed a marriage equality case pending before the Alabama Supreme Court – Ex parte State v. King – he voiced his personal opinion about the case and suggested that Alabama should defy the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage in order to lead to a “revival of what we need in this country.”

The complaint was filed with the Judicial Inquiry Commission of Alabama, which could recommend that Parker face charges in the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. 

“Tom Parker has a choice: He can be a judge or he can be an advocate, but he can’t be both,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. “His comments were clearly unethical and driven by his ideological agenda, not his judicial responsibility.”

The state’s Canon of Judicial Ethics bars judges from publicly commenting about pending or impending proceedings in any court.

“With Justice Parker running around on the radio discussing his personal opinions of pending cases, challenging the federal judiciary process, and calling for a ‘revival’ to stand up and defy the U.S. Supreme Court, it’s clear that he’s gone off the rails,” Cohen said. 

“Focal Point” host Bryan Fischer has for years demonized LGBT people, Muslims, Native Americans and African Americans. He has blamed gay men for the Holocaust, saying, “Homosexuality gave us Adolph Hitler, and homosexuals in the military gave us the Brown Shirts, the Nazi war machine and six million dead Jews.” He has called for banning Muslim immigration to the U.S., and has said the U.S. should “stop the practice of allowing Muslims to serve in the U.S. military.” In addition, he has said that African Americans “rut like rabbits.”

“It’s incredible that Tom Parker, a supreme court justice, would lend legitimacy to a bigot like Bryan Fischer by appearing on his show,” Cohen said.

The SPLC also has filed an ethics complaint against Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore for violating judicial canons. That complaint is still pending.

Moore also urged defiance of the same-sex marriage decision and has violated ethics through his continuing association with the Foundation for Moral Law. He is listed as president emeritus of the legal services organization, and his wife, Kayla Moore, serves as president. The organization is involved in litigation opposing same-sex marriage.

Parker is a former aide to Moore and once worked at the Foundation for Moral Law.