Contact: Liberty Counsel, 800-671-1776, Media@LC.org, Press Kit
ATLANTA, Oct. 27, 2016 /Christian Newswire/ -- Following the Judicial Inquiry Commission's (JIC) dismissal of the complaint against Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker, he has asked the federal courts to rule on the merits of his constitutional challenge to the speech restrictive Judicial Canon 3(A)(6) and the automatic removal provision. The lower court abstained from deciding the legal merits because the complaint was pending in the JIC. Parker appealed his challenge to the Federal Court of Appeals. Now that the JIC complaint has been dismissed, he has asked the Federal Court of Appeals to send the case back to the lower federal court to rule on the merits of his constitutional challenge.
The JIC recently dismissed the complaint filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) against Justice Tom Parker. The SPLC complained that Justice Parker was interviewed on the American Family Radio talk show regarding the U.S. Supreme Court's marriage opinion, claiming that any comment on any case anywhere in the country violated Canon 3(A)(6) of the Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics.
Canon 3(A)(6) purports to prohibit Alabama judges from making "any public comment about a pending or impending proceeding in any court," even if such a proceeding is not pending before the judge making the comments, and even if the judge’s comments do not have a reasonable likelihood of affecting the outcome or impairing the fairness of that proceeding. The American Bar Association has stated this broad speech restriction violates the First Amendment.
Parker was not charged by the JIC, but, if charged, he would have been suspended pending a hearing. Liberty Counsel filed a federal lawsuit challenging Canon 3 and the automatic removal provision.
Parker's federal lawsuit alleges that the speech restrictive judicial canon violates the First Amendment and the automatic removal violates due process and other constitutional provisions. Alabama is the only state to have this automatic removal provision that removes a judge for any charge.
"We are pleased that the complaint against Justice Tom Parker has been dismissed," said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. "Now we will focus on challenging the unconstitutional speech restriction in the judicial canon. This provision is so broad and such a clear violation of the First Amendment that no one can defend it. We will continue to challenge the automatic removal provision because it gives too much power to the JIC and that power has often been abused. This provision turns our justice system of 'innocent until proven guilty' on its head," said Staver.
Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.