Alabama’s Judicial Inquiry Commission has agreed to pay a $100,000 penalty to lawyers for state Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker, who was investigated at the insistence of the progressive Southern Poverty Law Center for his criticism of same-sex marriage.
SPLC, known for its designation of organizations that promote traditional moral values as “hate groups,” targeted remarks Parker made several years ago in a radio interview that made no mention of any current cases.
Parker is seeking the office of chief justice for the court.
The JIC, instead of tossing the complaint as frivolous, conducted a year-long investigation.
But according to a settlement agreement submitted to the federal court for approval, the state organization will pay $100,000 in legal fees for Parker’s lawyers at Liberty Counsel, and it will stop enforcing the speech-restricting judicial rules.
“The SPLC’s sinister plan has backfired spectacularly,” said Horatio Mihet, chief litigation counsel for Liberty Counsel. “The SPLC’s effort to muzzle Justice Parker has instead brought freedom of expression on critical public issues to all judges in Alabama. We are glad that the JIC has finally seen the proverbial writing on the wall and has abandoned its defense and enforcement of these unconstitutional laws.”
Get the Whistleblower magazine’s revelations about SPLC in “The Hate Racket,” the story of how one group fools government into equating Christians and conservatives with Klansmen and Nazis – and rakes in millions doing it.
Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, called it “an important victory for free speech, not just for Justice Tom Parker, but for all judges.”
“This is also a victory for the public because they have a right to hear what judges want to say about important issues, especially during elections. Judges must also be free to speak about past cases when teaching law students in the classroom,” he said.
The state rules, once common around the country, but abandoned as unconstitutional in virtually every jurisdiction, gave the JIC the power to prevent any judge from commenting on any case or issue pending anywhere in the nation.
SPLC’s complaint against Parker eventually was dropped, but Parker filed a separate federal legal action against the state, and a judge refused to submit to state pressure to drop the case.
“The Southern Poverty Law Center wanted to silence Justice Parker and remove him from the Alabama Supreme Court. Their ill intent backfired, and now Justice Parker has won the right for all judges to speak on important legal issues,” said Staver.
The settlement proposal would provide a permanent injunction against the state’s judicial rules restricting speech, rebuking SPLC for its complaint.
The case began in 2015 when SPLC filed what Liberty Counsel described as “a politically motivated ethics complaint” against Parker.
WND reported when the federal court granted the first injunction against the state’s application of its speech rules.
SPLC previously used the “complaint” tactic in Alabama against then-Chief Justice Roy Moore.
Moore was removed from the office in a dispute over the Ten Commandments 15 years ago on a complaint pursued by SPLC, but voters later put him back in office. He then was removed a second time, after an SPLC complaint over the issue of same-sex marriage.
But many consider SPLC discredited. The federal government cut off cooperation with the organization, and it was linked to domestic terror when Floyd Corkins confessed to trying to kill employees at the Family Research Council’s Washington office.
He told investigators he learned from the SPLC that FRC was a “hate” organization.
Lately, several media giants, such as Twitter, Google, YouTube, and Amazon, have come under criticism for cooperating with the SPLC and its designation of Christian organizations as “hate” groups.
Recently, the Amazon Smile program that allows customers to donate a tiny fraction of their purchases to a charity of their choice was caught submitting to the “hate” agenda of the SPLC by expelling the Alliance Defending Freedom.
SPLC’s hate list also was used by the charity-information site GuideStar, prompting lawsuits. While it famously battled the KKK many years ago, of late SPLC has taken to labeling famed surgeon and conservative Dr. Ben Carson as a “hater.” SPLC also was reprimanded by the Obama administration, and the Department of Defense and FBI have severed ties to the group.
Judicial Watch, citing a letter to Michael M. Hethmon, senior counsel for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, and others, said the DOJ reprimand came in 2016 but was “kept quiet at the agency’s request.”
“[It] involves the SPLC’s atrocious behavior during immigration court proceedings. Two groups that oppose illegal immigration, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), were the target of personal, baseless and below-the-belt attacks from SPLC attorneys during official immigration court proceedings. The SPLC filed a motion attacking and defaming the two respected nonprofits by describing them as ‘white supremacist,’ ‘eugenicist,’ ‘anti-Semitic,’ and ‘anti-Catholic.’ In its reprimand the DOJ says it is troubled by the conduct of SPLC lawyer Christopher Strawn and that his conduct ‘overstepped the bounds of zealous advocacy and was unprofessional,'” the report said.
Commentator John Stossel, in a WND column, joined the effort to expose SPLC.
“SPLC once fought useful fights. They took on the Ku Klux Klan. But now they go after people on the right with whom they disagree,” he wrote. “They call the Family Research Council a hate group because it says gay men are more likely to sexually abuse children. That’s their belief. There is some evidence that supports it. Do they belong on a ‘hate map,’ like the Ku Klux Klan, because they believe that evidence and worry about it?
“I often disagree with the council, but calling them a hate group is unfair. In my YouTube video this week, the group’s vice president, Jerry Boykin, tells me, ‘I don’t hate gay people. And I know gay people, and I have worked with gay people.'”
Stossel noted that lambasting someone with a “hate group” label makes them a target, referring to the attack on the Family Research Council by Corkins.
Stossel also noted SPLC smeared the Ruth Institute, “a Christian group that believes gays should no have an equal right to adopt children.”
The institute’s president, Jennifer Roback Morse, says they’re not “haters.”
“I like gay people. I have no problem with gay people. That’s not the issue. The issue is, what are we doing with kids and the definition of who counts as a parent,” she said.
For that, Stossel said, SPLC put the Ruth Institute on its “hate map.”
‘That led the institute’s credit card processor to stop working with them. In a letter to the institute, the processor company said that it had learned that the ‘Ruth Institute … promotes hate, violence, harassment and/or abuse,'” he reported.
Stossel said: “SPLC is now a hate group itself. It’s a money-grabbing slander machine.”
See Stossel’s video report on SPLC:
Last September, WND reported 47 conservative leaders urged members of the media across America to stop using “hit pieces” from SPLC.
The leaders included Brent Bozell of the Media Research Center, Edwin Meese of the Heritage Foundation, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) William Boykin of the Family Research Council, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel and Michael Farris of the Alliance Defending Freedom, Frank Gaffney and Clare Lopez of the Center for Security Policy, Brad Dacus of the Pacific Justice Institute, Frank Wright of D. James Kennedy Ministries, Scott Walter of the Capital Research Center, David Barton of WallBuilders, David Yerushalmi and Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center, Martin Mawyer of the Christian Action Network, Tim Wildmon and Sandy Rios of the American Family Association, and Joseph Farah, founder and CEO of WND.com
An announcement about the letter charged SPLC “has recklessly labeled dozens of mainstream conservative organizations as ‘hate groups.'”
Last June, SPLC supporter James Hodgkinson shot Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La.; Zach Barth, a staff member for Rep. Roger Williams; former congressional staff member Matt Mika; and two U.S. Capitol Police officers at a practice for a charity baseball game.
SPLC had demonized Scalise for promoting white supremacy and inferred he is a “hater.”