Return–On Horseback–Of the Ten Commandments Judge

It won’t get as much attention, obviously, as the presidential primary, but a downballot race in Alabama tomorrow that is of at least symbolic importance is the Republican primary for State Supreme Court Justice.

Before we get to the names and games in this race, it’s worth noting that there is no Democratic candidate for this post, or for the other High Court position on the ballot in Alabma this year. Among other things, that is a reflection of the profound success of Karl Rove’s iconic campaign back in the 1990s, in conjunction with the Big Mules of the Alabama business community, to politicize the state’s judiciary.

That drive helped make Roy Moore Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, but ultimately left him high and dry when he went off the deep end and defied federal court orders demanding that he remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from his courtroom.

A national Christian Right celebrity, Moore managed to get crushed in a 2006 challenge to incumbent GOP governor Bob Riley, and then finished a poor fourth in the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary.

Now he’s trying to get his old judicial job back against gubernatorial appointee Chuck Malone, and former Democratic attorney general Charlie Graddick. I would guess that Malone is the favorite, but you have to figure that former celebrities Graddick (whose 1986 Democratic gubernatorial primary win, overturned because of his avid encouragenent of crossover voting, made him a Dixiecrat hero) and Moore could pull a lot of votes. And Moore, incurable reactionary that he is, has announced he will go to the polls tomorrow on horseback.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.