In 2011, Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore agreed with a radio host known for promoting conspiracy theories that the United States would be better off if the seventeen constitutional amendments that followed the original Bill of Rights were repealed.
“That would eliminate many problems,” Moore said in audio unearthed by CNN. “You know people don’t understand how some of these amendments have completely tried to wreck the form of government that our forefathers intended.”
The amendments following the 10th Amendment served some fairly important functions in the U.S. government:
- The 13th Amendment abolished slavery.
- The 14th Amendment established birthright citizenship and equal protection and extended due process to the states.
- The 15th Amendment eliminated racial restrictions on voting.
- The 17th Amendment allowed for the direct election of United States Senators, like the race Moore is currently running in.
- The 19th Amendment eliminated voting restrictions on the basis of sex, granting women the right to vote.
- The 24th Amendment bans poll taxes, which were used to enforce discrimination in voting.
In addition to the obvious protections some of the amendments offer, the Supreme Court has previously invoked the 14th Amendment to extend many other familiar protections to U.S. citizens, such as school integration, sex nondiscrimination protections, interracial marriage, abortion, the overturning of sodomy laws, and marriage equality.
In that same Aroostook Watchmen show interview, Moore expressed concern about how the 14th Amendment was passed.
“Being from the South, I bet you get it,” the host stated at one point. “The 14th Amendment was only approved at the point of the gun.”
Moore agreed. “Yeah, very serious problems with its approval by the states,” he said.
Confederate states, like Alabama, were required to ratify the 14th Amendment before they were allowed to send representatives back to Congress. Objecting to the 14th Amendment is common among white supremacists, who reject that it created citizenship for non-white people.
It’s not the first time Moore’s controversial comments on issues of slavery and the 14th Amendment have sparked controversy. At a rally in Florence, Alabama this past September, Moore responded to an African-American audience member’s question, saying that the last time America was “great” was during the slavery era.
“I think it was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery — they cared for one another,” Moore said. “Our families were strong, our country had a direction.”
Moore’s concerns about the 14th Amendment weren’t the only racist moment from the 2011 Aroostook Watchmen interview. Agreeing with the host that President Obama’s birth certificate was “a problem,” Moore referenced Adolf Hitler, insisting that the Obama administration needed to be replaced.
“You know, Hitler once said, ‘You tell a big enough lie long enough, people to believe it.’ And that’s that’s the problem,” Moore said. “We’ve got to look at simple facts of the case, and we need to recognize we need a new administration in Washington. …We need to select people that uphold the Constitution, not undermine it.”
Moore’s seeming willingness to eliminate women’s right to vote, as well as the amendment that has guaranteed women many other protections, is also reminiscent of his contributions to a study course that advocated against letting women serve in office. Though Moore has clarified he does not personally hold that view, he served on the faculty of the organization that developed the course and provided legal training only to men for nearly a decade.
In the wake of the most recent troubling reports, the Moore campaign similarly told CNN that Moore does not believe all amendments after the 10th should be eliminated. Moore has merely “expressed concern, as many other conservatives have, that the historical trend since the ratification of the Bill of Rights has been for federal empowerment over state empowerment”, a campaign spokesperson stated.