Canary in the Moore Appeal?
Does the House candidacy of Roy Moore's lawyer presage a presidential run by the Republican Nader?
Phillip Jauregui, attorney to Roy Moore—the Alabama Supreme Court chief justice fired for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from his courtroom—has decided to challenge U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., in the June 1 primary. When Chatterbox learned this, his first thought was, "No, no, no, no, no! Jauregui isn't supposed to seek elective office; Moore is. Can't these people get anything straight?"
There's been talk in recent months that Moore will launch a third-party presidential candidacy for 2004. Moore has coyly declined to state his intentions, and Chatterbox is getting impatient. The idea—Chatterbox's, not Moore's—is that Moore will become the Republican Ralph Nader, which is to say that he will take enough Christian Right votes away from President Bush to put John Kerry in the White House. (Nader, it should be noted, thinks this time out that he's the Republican Ralph Nader—i.e., that he will take votes away from Republicans and independents but not Democrats. But Chatterbox doesn't know anyone else who believes this, and anyway Kerry will need every independent he can get.)
Time is running short. The U.S. Constitution Party, Moore's likeliest vehicle, will formally select its presidential nominee on June 25, and there's a presumptive nominee to dispose of. How about it, Mr. Chief Justice?
Moore is waiting for the Alabama Supreme Court to rule on his appeal; the decision could come any time. Indeed, it was supposed to arrive weeks ago. Moore will surely lose. Should that occur, Moore told Chatterbox last month, he will consider an appeal to the United States Supreme Court. But Moore would surely lose that, too. Better to get the Decalogue dialogue before the American public by running for president, no?
But, wait. Jauregui is handling the appeal. If this case were headed for the Rehnquist Court, would an ambitious young lawyer bail now? Of course not! If Jauregui's making other plans, might not that be a sign that Moore is making other plans, too? And just doesn't want to make it official until the Alabama Supreme Court hands down its decision?
Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.