Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker’s record reads like a bad parody of a white southern Republican from some over-dramatic liberal’s chapbook. And yet, if the Alabama Republican Party gets its way, Parker will be the state’s next chief justice. Earlier this week, Parker defeated incumbent Chief Justice Lyn Stuart for the GOP nomination to take over her job.
Before joining the court himself, Parker was a top aide to then-Chief Justice Roy Moore, the Republican U.S. Senate hopeful whose campaign imploded due to credible allegations that Moore preyed sexually on young teenagers.
Like Moore, Parker holds a deep animus against LGBTQ people, and he believes that his judicial decisions should be driven by his conservative religious beliefs. Parker once compared a federal judge, who ruled against the now-defunct ban on gay members of the military serving openly, to Al-Qaeda. He also wrote a judicial opinion claiming that the Supreme Court’s decision permitting same-sex couples to marry “conclusively demonstrates that the rule of law is dead.”
Oh, and there’s one other thing. Parker appears to be quite enamored of a treasonous war fought to defend the idea that white people can own black people.
A 2004 Associated Press article summarized the unusual tactics Parker deployed during his first state supreme court race like so: “Republican Supreme Court candidate Tom Parker said there was nothing wrong with him distributing rebel flags at the funeral of a Confederate widow or associating with people linked to Old South groups.”
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the picture on the left shows Parker — he’s the man with the obligatory fistful of Confederate Flags — standing between two leaders of these “Old South groups.” One is Leonard Wilson, “a board member of the white supremacist Council of Conservative Citizens.” The other is Mike Whorton, “a leader with the League of the South, which advocates for the secession of Southern states.”
In a 2015 interview, Parker compared the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision in Obergefell v. Hodges to the Court’s notorious pro-slavery decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford. Claiming that the Wisconsin Supreme Court refused to comply with Dred Scott in the lead up to the Civil War, Parker argued that this kind of defiance “was a model of what we need to see” in response to Obergefell.
“It’s time for state supreme courts to rise up and do their responsibility for this entire system we have nationally,” Parker added. “otherwise it’s just going to continue to get worse and worse.”
Parker similarly claimed, in a 2016 judicial opinion, that open defiance of the Court’s marriage equality decision remains on the table. Indeed, he concluded this opinion by suggesting that, if judges do not openly defy Obergefell, they will sentence the nation’s children “to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.”
Justice Parker will face off in November against Democratic Judge Bob Vance, who narrowly lost his first race to be the state’s chief justice to Roy Moore in 2012.