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Why Roy Moore Is a Dangerous Candidate and Would Be a Terrible Senator

Roy Moore

The deeply anti-LGBT former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice would be a disaster for the nation if he's elected to the U.S. Senate.

Now that Roy Moore has a chance of influencing the whole nation, not just Alabama, it's worth revisiting his record to understand just how dangerous he is.

Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate from the state Tuesday in a primary runoff, besting Luther Strange, the former Alabama attorney general who had been appointed senator when Jeff Sessions vacated the seat to become U.S. attorney general this year. Moore will face Democrat Doug Jones in the general election December 12, and the state's conservatism makes Moore the favorite in the race, although Jones has an impressive record as a federal prosecutor and has done well in some polls.

Moore is best known for his hard-right stances, ostensibly informed by his conservative Christian beliefs, especially his opposition to marriage equality and to LGBT rights in general. He is also deeply opposed to abortion and wants to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood (even though under law, the organization cannot use federal funds for abortion services). He denounces what he calls "socialized medicine" and says churches and private charities, not government entities, should be the primary source of aid to the poor.

He says the federal government should not be involved in education, that illegal immigration is a threat to national security, and that taxes should be lowered. He has claimed there are American communities living under Sharia law -- the religious law of Islam -- and that Barack Obama was not born in the U.S. He has suggested that U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to Congress, not be allowed to take the oath of office, and he has made racially incendiary comments. He's also an evolution denier and a gun-rights absolutist who brandished a pistol at a campaign rally.

Among his anti-LGBT "greatest hits": He has said marriage equality will "literally cause the destruction of our country or lead to the destruction of our country over the long run"; that transgender people have a mental disorder; and that actions against opponents of marriage equality are similar to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany. He has said "homosexual acts" should be illegal. He opposes allowing gay people in the military and has equated homosexuality with bestiality. And he has gone so far as to say that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, may have happened because the U.S. had turned away from God and taken steps to "legitimize sodomy" and "legitimize abortion."

Moore is a West Point graduate who served as a military police officer in Vietnam, then went to the University of Alabama School of Law upon his return. After finishing law school, he was a deputy district attorney in Etowah County, Ala., then a lawyer in private practice. He became a judge of the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit of Alabama in 1992 and was elected chief justice of the state Supreme Court in 2000.

It was on the high court that he began to make his mark. He had a huge granite monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments monument installed at the state courthouse, and civil liberties groups including the Southern Poverty Law Center sued to have it removed. A federal judge agreed with the groups that the monument was an unconstitutional establishment of religion and ordered Moore to have it taken off the property. Because Moore would not obey the court order, a judicial ethics panel removed him from office in 2003.

He actually had been in trouble over the Ten Commandments once before. In 1995, when he was a state circuit court judge, the American Civil Liberties Union sued over his display of a Ten Commandments plaque in his courtroom and his practice of opening sessions with prayer. The case led to an order to dispense with the prayers, but after some back-and-forth, Moore got to keep the plaque on the wall.

Moore's antigay ways were evident during his first stint on the Alabama Supreme Court. In a 2002 case, involving a lesbian mother seeking custody of her children amid allegations that the father was abusive, he wrote, "Homosexual behavior is a ground for divorce, an act of sexual misconduct punishable as a crime in Alabama, a crime against nature, an inherent evil, and an act so heinous that it defies one's ability to describe it."

From 2003 to 2012, Moore was president of the Foundation for Moral Law, a religious right group based in Montgomery. It has filed several friend-of-the-court briefs in cases involving abortion, LGBT rights, religious displays in public places, and a variety of other issues of interest to Christian conservatives. During this period, he also ran for Alabama governor a couple of times, being defeated in the Republican primary in 2006 and again in 2010.

He considered seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, even visiting Iowa, where the nation's first presidential caucus is held, but ultimately did not run. But he did run for Alabama Supreme Court chief justice that year, and voters returned him to the position. During the campaign, he had highlighted his opposition to LGBT rights. "Same-sex marriage will lead to the ultimate destruction of our country," he said at one event.

Back on the court, Moore fought to block marriage equality in the state, both after a federal district judge ruled for it early in 2015 and when the U.S. Supreme Court made it the law of the nation in June of that year. Moore contended that Alabama didn't have to follow federal court rulings on marriage, which is not the case. Because of his obstruction efforts, he was charged with ethics violations, found guilty, and removed from the court once again. At 70, he's too old to run for the court again under Alabama law.

But he's not too old to run for the U.S. Senate, and when he announced his candidacy this year, it was in typical fashion: "I know and I think you do too that the foundations of the fabric of our country are being shaken tremendously. Our families are being crippled by divorce and abortion. Our sacred institution of marriage has been destroyed by the [U.S.] Supreme Court. Our rights and liberties are in jeopardy."

More likely, it's Moore who will put rights and liberties in jeopardy, especially those of LGBT people, but also of women, immigrants, the poor, and basically anyone who's not a conservative Christian.

Moore is beloved by many of the people who love Donald Trump, although Trump endorsed Strange in the runoff. After Moore's victory, however, Trump said he looked forward to working with the candidate, and Moore likewise expressed support for the president. Moore did have the backing in the primary of several Trump allies, such as Steve Bannon, Sarah Palin, and Ben Carson.

Some observers think Moore is too extreme to win the general election, or at least that Jones will give him stiff competition. But after Moore's runoff victory, Washington Post editorial writer Stephen Stromberg issued a warning: "Moore is still almost certain to beat Jones. And, like Trump, Moore would make an unusually toxic addition to Washington. A man who brandished a revolver in one of his recent campaign rallies, Moore touts politics that are raw and identity-based, appealing to those who believe that conservative Christian religious culture should infuse the civic institutions that govern all of us. ... Roy Moore stands for anarchy, disorder, disunity and conflict. His platform just got higher, and his power more considerable. Every minute he is in a position of national prominence, the country loses."

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