The Roy Moore draft watch.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
March 9 2004 6:37 PM

Moore Gets Coy

The religious right's Ralph Nader keeps his options open.

When last we checked in on Roy " Ten Commandments" Moore, Alabama's deposed chief justice, he was  telling the Weekly Standard's Katherine Mangu-Ward that he wouldn't launch a third-party bid for president in 2004. Chatterbox ignored this, partly because the Weekly Standard so obviously doesn't want a right-wing Ralph Nader to siphon votes away from President Bush and partly because Sherman-esque statements never count unless they appear inside quotation marks. The Weekly Standard published a paraphrase. Chatterbox wanted to see Judge Moore address this topic in his own words.

Since then, Moore has continued to wow 'em at Constitution Party meetings around the country. The party's placeholder candidate, Michael Peroutka, is behaving more like a real candidate, but Moore continues to overshadow him in joint appearances, and Constitution Party chairman Jim Clymer continues to  make it clear that he'd swap Peroutka for Moore in a New York minute. The drop-dead date for Moore to declare his candidacy is June 23, when the Constitution Party convenes its four-day  national convention in Valley Forge, Pa.

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Moore's been in the news lately because his  eccentric rebellion against separation of church and state (as enshrined in the  establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution and imposed by a federal court) bears an awkward resemblance to municipal office-holders' principled defiance of state laws that forbid (or purportedly forbid) marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Is one man's act of noble civil disobedience another man's windmill joust? Discuss.

Interestingly, Moore  told the New York Times on March 7 that he doesn't favor a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage—the very thing that President Bush  recently endorsed in order to pander to religious-right types like, well, Moore. "I certainly understand that something needs to be done to stop mayors and judges and others who are disregarding the law," Moore said. "But I think the procedure to correct these problems lies within the Constitution itself, which doesn't need to be amended." Moore would rather  use Congress to limit court jurisdiction in these matters. This is very much in line with Constitution Party doctrine, which abhors all talk of amending the Constitution. But it's also a brilliant act of political jujitsu against Bush.

Naturally, the Times asked Moore if he's going to run for president on the Constitution Party ticket. His answer: "I don't rule out anything. But I have no plans to do that at this time."

That doesn't sound very Sherman-esque to Chatterbox. Read it and weep, Weekly Standard.

Draft Moore Archive:
Feb. 22, 2004: " Forget Nader. Draft Moore"

Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His  book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.

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