Justice Parker's Lawsuit Allowed to Proceed

Sep 5, 2017

Alabama Justice Tom Parker

Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker will have his own day in court after all.

U.S. District Judge Keith Watkins recently ruled against dismissing Justice Parker’s contention that certain state restrictions on judges' speech violate their First Amendment rights.

Parker’s lawsuit stems from comments he made on a radio show in October 2015 about state courts potentially defying the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing gay marriage in June of that year. The Southern Poverty Law Center then filed a complaint, saying Parker’s comments violated judicial ethics canons, and the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission opened an investigation. They have since dismissed their complaint.

But Parker is still suing. He claims several of those ethics canons violated his First Amendment right to speak out about public issues as a candidate for public office. He was running for reelection when he made the comments, and he is currently a candidate for Chief Justice.

The Judicial Inquiry Commission has until next Thursday to respond to the ruling.