November 16, 2017

Roy Moore: A History of Bigotry, Extremism and Contempt for the Rule of Law



By Peter Montgomery / 11.16.2017

Earlier this month, The Washington Post published a thoroughly sourced report that Roy Moore–the former chief justice of Alabama, hero to the Religious Right, and current GOP Senate nominee–had attempted to date teenage girls when he was an assistant district attorney in his 30s and in one case had allegedly molested  a 14-year-old. Since that story broke, several other women have come forward with allegations, including one who says Moore assaulted her when she was 16 years old. Moore has denied the allegations, and most Religious Right leaders have rallied around him, even as some Republican officials have publicly distanced themselves.

While it is not clear where these allegations will ultimately lead legally or politically, Moore’s record of extremism and contempt for the rule of law has been crystal clear, and the fact that so many Republican elected officials have been willing to support him in spite of, or because of, that history, is itself scandalous.

Moore’s support from Religious Right leaders and conservative evangelical activists and pastors reflects the intense enthusiasm he has generated over the past two decades by waging high-profile battles challenging the separation of church and state and the advance of legal equality for LGBTQ Americans. Moore’s brand of aggressive Christian nationalism, combined with his repeated defiance of court rulings he personally disagrees with, have given him folk-hero status on the Christian Right, which has built political power by promoting the idea that liberal secularists and judicial activists are persecuting American Christians.

Apart from the allegations of sexual misconduct, Moore’s public life has been driven by his defiance of the Constitution and rule of law. He stubbornly and repeatedly insists that his own religious beliefs and worldview trump court rulings. He undermines his supposed commitment to religious liberty by arguing that Christians have a privileged place over non-Christians in American law and society. He rejects the core constitutional principle of equality under the law by arguing that gay and lesbian Americans should not only be denied legal equality but should be treated as criminals. Moore has promoted far-right conspiracy theories and hinted of a need for revolution against the U.S. government. He has suggested that the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were the consequence of America forsaking God’s word and embracing “perverseness and oppression.” And as recently as December 2016, months after even then-candidate Donald Trump had publicly abandoned racist “birther” conspiracies about Barack Obama, Moore was still saying  that he believes Obama was not born in the U.S.

It should be troubling to people of both political parties that Moore’s political career has been financed in large part by Michael Peroutka, a neo-confederate and Christian Reconstructionist who argues that the Bible and Constitution do not allow the federal government any legitimate role in education, health care or feeding the hungry.

In response to critics of his record, Moore adopts the right-wing strategy of demonizing the media. He recently told reporters, “I wish y’all would print me as I am, and not as other people say I am.” But the substance of many criticisms of  Moore, including the contents of this report, are drawn directly from Moore’s own words and actions.

Alabamians who cherish the fundamental American principles of religious liberty, equality under the law, and the rule of law should recognize that what is at stake in this election is far more important than partisan control of this Senate seat.

Religious Right activists have spent decades denouncing judges for putting their own views above the law, but they have celebrated Roy Moore for doing precisely that. Moore’s political career is grounded in a series of confrontations that he and his supporters have used to portray him as a champion of the Constitution and of religious freedom. His record shows that the opposite is true. Moore has been a leading champion of nullification and interposition, strategies supported by far-right activists who urge state and local leaders to defy the federal government on issues like legal abortion and LGBTQ equality.

Moore began to make a name for himself among Religious Right activists in the late 1990s, when, as a state judge of the Etowah County Circuit Court, he insisted on hanging a hand-carved copy of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom and made a practice of starting courtroom sessions with Christian prayers. In response to criticism and a court order that he remove the plaque, Moore resisted and religious conservatives like Ralph Reed, Don Wildmon and Alveda King rallied around him, along with local politicians and members of Christian militias. That controversy gave him a political following that he used to run for the position of chief justice, getting elected for the first time in 2000.  It was a job from which he ended up being ousted twice for refusing to obey federal court orders.

The first time Moore was removed by his fellow judges as the state’s chief justice, in 2003, it was because he defied a federal court order to remove a massive Ten Commandments monument he had installed in the state courthouse in the dead of night specifically to promote his own beliefs that the state and national constitutions require judges to acknowledge the “sovereignty” and supremacy of the God of the Bible.

The second time he was effectively removed as chief justice (after having been elected again), it was in 2016 for urging state probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in spite of court rulings to the contrary, including the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling in Obergefell.

Between his stints as chief justice, Moore established and ran the Foundation for Moral Law, which gave him a platform to continue his Christian-nation advocacy and opposition to legal access to abortion and LGBTQ equality; after he was elected chief justice for the second time his wife took over as president of the organization.

In 2010, while Moore was at the Foundation, he signed a resolution at a Tenth Amendment Summit endorsing nullification. CNN reported on Moore’s remarks at the event:

“I say again, we must fight,” he said. “An appeal to the God of Hosts is all that is left us. They tell us that we’re weak, unable to cope with so formidable an adversary, but when should we be stronger? Would it be the next week? Or the next year? When will it be? When we are totally disarmed, under UN Guard that’s stationed at every house?”

At a right-wing event in 2014, Moore spoke sympathetically about secession. And he said his refusal to remove the Ten Commandments monument he had installed in the state courthouse was an example of interposition, which he called “the step before outright revolution.”

When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that state bans on same-sex couples marrying violated the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law, Moore called the ruling “an immoral, unconstitutional and tyrannical opinion” and urged defiance of the court’s “tyranny.” He declared that “the laws of this state have always recognized the biblical admonition [on marriage] stated by our Lord.”

Moore’s ideology and worldview subvert the guarantees of the Constitution to his interpretation of religious duty. “Abuse of Power: The Supreme Court’s Gay Marriage Decision” is a reprint in paperback form, with an introduction by Moore, of his March 4, 2016 “special concurrence” in which he denounced the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision. He writes, “Liberty in the American system of government is not the right to define one’s own reality in defiance of the Creator.” He says the Court’s pro-marriage-equality majority separates “man from his creator” and “plunges the human soul into a wasteland of meaninglessness where every man defines his own anarchic reality.”

Religious Right leaders have nursed a grudge against the federal courts for more than half a century, beginning with Supreme Court rulings against segregated schools and upholding separation of church and state, and continuing through decisions recognizing a right to privacy, women’s rights, and legal equality for LGBT people. Moore’s eagerness to purge the courts of judges who don’t share his views poses a significant threat to the independence of the federal judiciary, on which Americans’ ability to pursue justice relies.

In an August op-ed, Moore talked about terrorist threats, but said “the single largest threat to our country’s existence” is “activist judges.” He pledged, “I will oppose the confirmation of liberal judges, and I will also support the impeachment of activist judges who are clearly legislating from the bench.”

He was more specific when speaking at this year’s Values Voter Summit, a political gathering for Religious Right activists. Speaking of the U.S. Supreme Court, he demanded, “What gives them a right to declare that two men can get married?” Moore called for the impeachment of the justices who supported marriage equality. “They’re judicial supremacists and they should be taken off the bench,” he said.

Moore also recently called for the impeachment of the judge who intervened to block Trump’s proposed ban on transgender people serving in the military, saying, “Congress should not turn a deaf ear to this flagrant usurpation of executive authority.”

In August, Moore blamed a “do-nothing Congress” when a federal court upheld the decision of a school board in Washington state not to renew a coach’s contract after he continued praying with his team on the football field after being instructed to stop. “When I get to the Senate, the days of silent submissiveness from the legislative branch will be over,” Moore said. “We will remind the courts, especially the lower courts, how they were created and directed. We will restore the courts to their proper role and we will protect religious liberty.”

“The Supreme Court of the United States issues opinions,” he told the Eagle Council in 2015, “and opinions and the law can be two different things.”

Moore has a much higher estimation of his own opinions than the Supreme Court’s. In “Abuse of Power,” he calls his response to the Supreme Court’s marriage opinion “unique in the annals of American jurisprudence.”

“Never before,” he wrote, “has a Chief Justice of any state issued an opinion in a case clearly demonstrating the illegitimacy of a United States Supreme Court decision and the duty of lower magistrates to refuse to apply such a decision to future cases.”

Moore’s hostility to legal equality for LGBTQ people is extreme and well documented. In 2005, two years after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned state sodomy laws that made gay people de facto criminals, Moore said that homosexual conduct should be illegal and equated it with bestiality, saying it was “the same thing” morally as having sex with a horse or a dog.

A few years earlier, he wrote an opinion in a custody case in which children were taken away from a lesbian mother and given to a physically abusive father. Homosexuality “should never be tolerated,” he wrote, saying that it is an “inherent evil” and “if a person openly engages in such a practice that act alone would render him or heran unfit parent.”

The opinion is a remarkable compendium of bigotry in which Moore recounts sixth-century denunciations of sodomy as “high treason against the King of Heaven” and notes historical examples of homosexual behavior being punishable by death. “The state carries the power of the sword, that is, the power to prohibit conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution,” he wrote. “It must use that power to prevent the subversion of children toward this lifestyle, to not encourage a criminal lifestyle.” (Moore has said recently that he does not support the death penalty for gay people, but has declined to specify what he thinks the criminal penalty for homosexuality should be.)

During the administration of President George W. Bush, Moore called it an “open affront to Christian principles” that the president nominated and the Senate confirmed an “admitted homosexual,” Mark Dybul, to be U.S. Global AIDS coordinator. Moore slammed then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for referring to Dybul’s partner’s mother as his mother-in-law, thereby “showing disdain for traditional marriage and an open acceptance of homosexuality.”

Moore’s opposition to equality for gay Americans does not seem to have waned in any way. In 2014, Moore criticized the Huntsville, Alabama, city council for permitting a gay pride parade. And as recently as 2015 he declared that he believes homosexual activity carried out in private by consenting adults should be illegal. In 2015, he shared an article on his Facebook page in which then-President Obama talked about religious freedom not being a justification for denying same-sex couples’ constitutional rights; Moore captioned it with, “We used to arrest people for this type of behavior.”

Given that Moore believes gay relationships should be criminalized, his intense opposition to marriage equality is not surprising. In 2014, he sent letters to all 50 governors urging them to support his call for an Article V convention to advance an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would ban same-sex couples from getting married anywhere in the U.S. He has even said that Obergefell was worse than Dred Scott, the infamous pre-Civil War Supreme Court ruling that black people could not be U.S. citizens and that the federal government had no power to restrict slavery in the territories.

When Alabama judges suspended Moore from his job on the state supreme court last year, Moore blamed gay and transgender activists. He denounced the decision as corrupt, saying in a statement, “This was a politically motivated effort by radical homosexual and transgender groups to remove me as chief justice of the Supreme Court because of outspoken opposition to their immoral agenda.” In fact, Moore’s defiance of federal court orders had generated numerous complaints against him, including one filed by People For the American Way Foundation in February 2015, before Obergefellbut after Moore’s January 2015 letter to then-Gov. Robert Bentley urging the governor not to comply with a federal district judge’s ruling that the state’s ban on same-sex couples marrying was unconstitutional.

This year, Moore’s wife, who runs the foundation that Moore founded, complained when Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis nominated a lesbian to a top position at the U.S. Air Force Academy, saying the Defense Department was showing “disregard for the fundamental moral order established by God, thus breaking trust with the millions of Christians who voted for the new president in hope that the ungodly policies of the previous administration would be repudiated.”

Moore even said earlier this year that the U.S. promoting “bad things” like “same-sex marriage” meant that Ronald Reagan’s comments about the Soviet Union being “the focus of evil in the modern world” could be applied to the U.S. today. Like other Religious Right leaders, Moore has expressed a kinship with Russia’s anti-democratic strongman Vladimir Putin over the Russian government’s anti-gay policies, saying, “Maybe he’s more akin to me than I know.”

Moore has appeared at least five times on the radio show of Kevin Swanson, a Religious Right activist and radio host who has repeatedly said that the government should execute gay people. In an appearance on Swanson’s show in February of this year, Moore said, “God’s law is always superior to man’s laws.”

There’s virtually no end to Moore’s hostility to gay people, as RWW noted in April when he announced his Senate run:

Moore… linked same-sex marriage to child abuse, incest and polygamy and said that the “attempt to destroy the institution of marriage” will “literally cause the destruction of our country,” going so far as to warn that it may lead to warthe confiscation of children, and a civil disobedience movement like the one launched by Martin Luther King Jr. against segregation. “I hope I don’t give my life, but I’m going to tell you this is a very serious matter,” he said.

Throughout his career, Moore has demonstrated his belief that America is a Christian nation whose legal system requires judges to acknowledge the sovereignty of the God of the Christian Bible. “The United States of America is founded on a belief in a particular God—the God of the Holy Scriptures,” Moore wrote in his book “So Help Me God: The Ten Commandments, Judicial Tyranny, and the Battle for Religious Freedom.”  He acknowledges that the Constitution “guarantees everyone freedom of thought as well as equal treatment under the law” but his record doesn’t reflect that he actually puts that principle into practice.

Moore was among a group of Religious Right leaders published in a 1998 book called “For Such a Time as This: Twenty-Seven Christian Leaders on Reclaiming America for Christ.” In his contribution, he wrote:

You can’t be neutral with God. You are either for Him or against Him. A nation can’t be neutral with God. You are either founded upon the laws of nature and nature’s God, upon biblical values, or you’re not. That’s the issue today in America. Are we neutral?

At this year’s Values Voter Summit, an American Family Association official introducing Moore said he believed Moore “is the tip of the spear in what we need to usher America back into its place in submission to our Holy God.”

Moore is certainly not neutral, and never has been. “The judge, a Baptist, invites others to pray with him in court—as long as they’re not Muslim, Hindu or Buddhist,” USA Today noted in 1997, when Moore was embroiled in controversy. “We are not a nation founded upon the Hindu god or Buddha,” Moore said. Moore said no Muslim or Buddhist would offer prayers in his courtroom because “they do not acknowledge the God of the Holy Bible upon which this country is established.”

A newspaper story at the time revealed one reason such rhetoric is so harmful, quoting the driver of a log truck saying the public debate over Moore’s practices and Christian-nation rhetoric was “making it tougher to be one of only a handful of Jews” in his Alabama town.

“Our country has always been considered a Christian nation,” Moore wrote in “So Help Me God” (initially published in 2004 and updated during the Obama presidency), favorably citing an 1892 Supreme Court ruling disparaging Muslim and Buddhist beliefs as “the doctrines or worship of these imposters.” In August, in an interview with Vox’s Jeff Stein, Moore quoted Joseph Story’s 1833 “Commentaries on the Constitution,” saying, “It was the general, if not the universal, sentiment in America that Christianity ought to be favored by the State.”

In his book “So Help Me God,” Moore complained about Obama saying that America was not a Christian nation and expressing appreciation for Islam, which he called “disparagements of our faith by the President.” In a 2012 radio interview he complained that “false religions” other than Christianity were taking hold in the U.S.

Moore is deeply hostile to Islam, which, he told journalist Michelangelo Signorile, is “a faith that conflicts with the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.” CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski reported that in 2009 Moore, who has called Islam a “false religion,” told the right-wing Council for National Policy, “about the only thing I know that the Islamic faith has done in this country is 9/11.” His Facebook page, according to CNN, “shared a video that falsely alleged former President Barack Obama was a Muslim.” He also shared a Washington Times article by Franklin Graham saying all Muslims should be banned from entering the U.S.  And during his Senate campaign he repeated a false and inflammatory anti-Muslim conspiracy theory, falsely claiming that there are “ communities under Sharia law right now in our country.”

Moore’s hostility to Islam is not just rhetorical. In 2006, when Keith Ellison, a Muslim, was elected to represent Minnesota in the U.S. Congress, Moore said in a column for the far-right website WorldNetDaily (WND) that Congress should refuse to seat him. “The Islamic faith rejects our God and believes that the state must mandate the worship of its own god, Allah,” he wrote. Moore cited an Islamist cleric to support the assertion that “Ellison cannot swear an oath on the Quran and an allegiance to our Constitution at the same time.” Moore concluded:

But common sense alone dictates that in the midst of a war with Islamic terrorists we should not place someone in a position of great power who shares their doctrine. In 1943, we would never have allowed a member of Congress to take their oath on “Mein Kampf,” or someone in the 1950s to swear allegiance to the “Communist Manifesto.” Congress has the authority and should act to prohibit Ellison from taking the congressional oath today!

In 2007, Moore again took to WND, this time to complain about a Hindu religious leader being invited to give the opening prayer in the U.S. Senate.

Hindus believe not just in a god that is one with the universe and with nature but in many gods, beliefs that are completely inconsistent with a belief in the Creator God of the Holy Scriptures and the Christian faith upon which our nation is founded. Our Founding Fathers knew better – and so should our senators. …

It is particularly troubling to see the U.S. Senate disregard a long history of Christian prayers in favor of modern, pluralistic prayers to gods that have no relationship to this country or the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that we cherish. Mr. Zed certainly has the freedom to exercise his Hindu beliefs, but only because that is an unalienable right given by the God of creation and protected in this land. Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, etc., have freedom of conscience in this country that is not extended to Christians in other nations under other “gods.” Our government should and indeed must affirm that Almighty God is the source of that right for it to continue.

Moore said “the rejection and denial of God at the start of their daily business” was the “surest way” for the Senate to “incur the Lord’s judgment.” Moore’s Foundation for Moral Law represented Christian protesters who disrupted the Hindu prayer. Moore said at the time, “It’s a shame that not one U.S. Senator stood up to defend a tradition that goes back to the very first Continental Congress of acknowledging the one true God of the Holy Scriptures.”

Moore has also made ample use of the Religious Right’s cynical strategy of equating criticism of political positions and tactics with an attack on religious freedom and Christianity itself. Moore has said the separation of church and state is “used to exclude Christians from holding public office” and that “Christians are being forced to give up their position in government or else succumb to something that they don’t believe.”

Moore has a long association with the Institute on the Constitution, a Christian Reconstructionist group that says a religious test for public office—requiring that office holders believe in the Christian God—is “a logical and consistent protection against those who might drive our constitutional republic in a bad direction.”

Moore has railed against his critics at the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, calling the SPLC “probably the biggest hate group in our country because they hate God and they hate anything about God and Christianity, and they’re going to continue their deception by hiding behind that word ‘hate.’”

Moore is among those who think Trump’s victory was an act of God. “I’m running for the US Senate because I believe that God gave America a second chance last November,” he wrote in August, “and I want to be part of the leadership team that will make America great again.”

“Everybody else thinks it’s the Russians,” he told the Guardian, “I think it was the providential hand of God.” He believes the same about his own primary victory.

Much of Moore’s political career has been financed by Michael Peroutka, a Maryland lawyer who made a fortune in the debt-collection business and has used it to promote Christian Reconstructionist theories about God, government and the Constitution. Among those views is that God gave the church and family responsibility for education and care of the poor, and that it is therefore unbiblical for the government to have anything to do with those things.

That worldview meshes with the Tea Party’s extremely restrictive view of the constitutional role for the federal government and the neo-Confederates’ desire for a constitutional order focused on states’ rights. Moore’s patron Peroutka, now an elected Republican county councilman in Maryland, had a long association with the pro-secessionist League of the South. At an event at the Institute on the Constitution in 2011Moore gushed that Peroutka would help lead America to a “glorious triumph” over the federal government’s “tyranny.” Along similar lines, Moore supporter Sam Rohrer, head of the American Pastors Network, said the controversy over Moore’s defiance of the Supreme Court on marriage equality “assumes that the federal government and the Supreme Court have authority to overrule state law.” Moore’s office features a portrait of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and busts of Confederate Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

These views bring Moore to stark policy conclusions. “Government is not supposed to be in health care,” he declared in August. As part of his primary-campaign victory lap on “Fox & Friends,” he criticized Republican approaches to modifying the Affordable Care Act, saying that transferring it to the states is not getting government out of the business of “socialized medicine.”

The federal government “has no involvement in education under the Constitution,” he said in September, adding, “It’s time we end the federal government’s involvement in education.” He complained that Common Core, a controversial set of national educational standards, was an attempt to “buy” and “indoctrinate our children.” In 2004, Moore led the effort against an attempt to remove language from Alabama’s state constitution mandating complete racial segregation in schools, because he said other language in the proposed revision might be used by liberals to gain more funding for public schools. In  2007, Moore wrote that then-Sen. Hillary Clinton’s efforts to expand funding for pre-K were “another unjustifiable attempt to indoctrinate our youth” comparable to efforts by Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin.

When Moore was running the Foundation for Moral Law, now led by his wife, he hired Christian Reconstructionist John Eidsmoe to join the foundation’s legal team. Eidsmoe’s “Christianity and the Constitution: The Faith of Our Founding Fathers” calls the Constitution “a Christian document.” Moore praised Eidsmoe as an “exceptional constitutional scholar who is well versed in history and America’s heritage.” The Foundation for Moral Law hosted Secession Day events when Moore was at its helm; at the 2010 event, Eidsmoe said he believed that “Jefferson Davis and John C. Calhoun understood that Constitution better than did Abraham Lincoln and Daniel Webster.”

In 2015, Eidsmoe said the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision was “disobedient against God” and said lower courts and elected officials must “interpose” to “nullify” it:

“But even more than that,” he said, “what I think we’re gonna argue here is that this particular decision is so egregious that the state courts, state legislatures and the like have a right and a duty to nullify and disregard it.”

He claimed the decision was “without constitutional support,” “arrived at by illegitimate means,” and “seeks to redefine the institution of marriage.”

“I don’t think any governmental body, especially a group of unelected judges, has the authority to redefine God’s institution of marriage,” Eidsmoe said.

Barbwire, the outlet created by anti-gay activist and former Liberty University official Matt Barber, published a defense of Moore by the Institute on the Constitution’s Jake MacAuley:

What Moore’s persecutors are attempting is an end-run around the rule of Law. They want The Supreme Court of the United States to be the author of law and thereby create “Pretended Legislation” in their favor.

Through his Foundation for Moral Law, Moore has advocated for extreme “personhood” measures that would outlaw all abortions and could even ban common forms of birth control.

That work continued when Moore returned to the state supreme court, as Right Wing Watch noted:

On the court, Moore worked with his protégé, Justice Tom Parker, to create a legal “personhood” framework with the goal of undermining abortion rights; Moore concurred in one opinion in which Parker argued, according to a Rewire analysis, that the law requires the “jailing and prosecuting women for not just endangering a developing fetus, but in the case of abortions as well.”

Not surprisingly, anti-abortion extremists are also among Moore’s enthusiastic backers. Operation Rescue urged Trump to put Moore on the Supreme Court. Moore’s campaign bragged about the endorsement of Matt Trewhella, who was one of 34 anti-abortion extremists to sign a statement in the 1990s declaring that the murder of abortion providers is “justifiable.” As RWW has noted:

These days, Trewhella works with the radical abortion protest group Operation Save America—a key ally of Moore’s—to promote his “Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrate” book in which he argues that government officials have a duty to defy federal law and court decisions on issues like abortion and gay rights. In 2013, Trewhella declared that homosexuality “needs to be suppressed through the force of law.” Speaking at OSA’s national event in Louisville earlier this year, Trewhella expressed frustration that elected officials are unwilling to prosecute women who have abortions for homicide. …

Moore’s list of endorsers also includes Troy Newman, president of OSA’s rival group Operation Rescue, who has written that the government has a biblical duty to try abortion providers for capital crimes.

Moore’s Christian nationalist religious bigotry and anti-LGBT extremism have not prevented Religious Right and Republican Party leaders from embracing his candidacy. Indeed, for many of them, like the American Family Association’s anti-gay and anti-Muslim font of bigotry Bryan Fischer, Moore’s extremism is his appeal. “Roy Moore was deplorable before it was cool to be deplorable,” says Sarah Palin.

Moore’s Senate run was embraced by some Republican leaders during the primary, and by others after he defeated incumbent Sen. Luther Strange for the GOP nomination. Among those who backed him for election were President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence as well as former White House advisors Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka. Senators Mike Lee, Ted Cruz,  John Cornyn, Steve Daines and Rand Paul were among his endorsers, along with right-wing House leaders Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan and all six House Republicans from Alabama. Lee, Cruz, Cornyn and Daines have withdrawn their endorsements since the accusations of sexual assault and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Moore nemesis, has urged him to drop out of the race.

Liberty Counsel and its leader Mat Staver represented Moore in his failed legal effort to avoid suspension. The Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins called the charges of judicial misconduct that led to Moore’s suspension “nothing but trumped up charges meant to make an example of anyone who dares to stand up to the forces of political correctness and follow state protocol in judicial decisions.” Jerry Falwell Jr., James Dobson, Mike Huckabee and Phil Robertson are all on Moore’s team of Christian conservatives.

Among the figures supporting Moore’s candidacy is Gordon Klingenschmitt, the Religious Right activist and former Colorado elected official who said in a 2016 email that he was “overwhelmed with grief” when Moore was suspended from the bench, complaining that “homofascist sodomites are now openly persecuting and removing Christian elected officials.”

The anti-LGBTQ activists at the National Organization for Marriage produced a video endorsement of Moore, calling him “a champion for marriage, life, and religious liberty.” NOM’s Brian Brown praised Moore for calling the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling “an immoral, unconstitutional and tyrannical opinion.” Brown has also raised money for Moore’s campaign.

David Whitney, a Maryland pastor affiliated with Michael Peroutka’s Institute on the Constitution, has had Moore speak from his pulpit on numerous occasions. Whitney calls Moore his “good friend and Christian patriot.” He has praised Moore’s actions “to stand for God’s Holy institution of marriage” and against “sodomite unmarriage” and he criticized Moore’s suspension by “a kangaroo court.” Whitney called Moore’s suspension “a persecution of a Christian who stood on the principles of God’s word and acted in office based upon what is lawful and right.”

Gun Owners of America, a group that thinks the National Rifle Association is too quick to compromise on gun legislation, endorsed Moore in the hope that he will help them pass federal legislation to deregulate silencers and allow someone with a concealed carry permit from one state to carry in another state. Moore has pulled guns out of his wife’s purse and his pocket at events.

The willingness of so many Republican leaders to embrace Moore’s candidacy, in spite of his contempt for the rule of law and his documented extremism on religious liberty, women’s rights, LGBTQ equality is deeply disturbing. That support seems to be eroding in the face of recent allegations of sexual misconduct, but Republican leaders who had embraced Roy Moore’s run for the U.S. Senate have already sacrificed any right to be taken seriously when they posture as defenders of American values, the Constitution and the rule of law.

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