Alabama Justice Wins Speech Case

Mar 2, 2018

Today, a Federal district court in Alabama issued a preliminary injunction in favor of Liberty Counsel’s client, Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker. This injunction grants all Alabama judges the freedom to publicly comment on cases pending outside of Alabama, and judges may also comment on a pending case in Alabama if their comments cannot reasonably be considered to influence the outcome. Previous to this injunction, all Alabama judges were prevented from commenting publicly on any cases anywhere in the United States.

The Court also found that Justice Parker has shown a substantial likelihood of success on the merits that Canon 3A(6) is likely unconstitutional because it is too broad.

Judicial standards similar to Alabama’s canon were abandoned long ago by the American Bar Association. The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) has shown its willingness to use the ban to punish and silence judges like Justice Parker if they comment on any case no matter how removed it may be from Alabama.

Liberty Counsel has been helping Justice Parker fight this canon for two and a half years. It started when he participated in a radio interview answering questions on a wide-range of issues, including his thoughts on matters of paramount constitutional importance. That he dared publicly express his professional views triggered the Southern Poverty Law Center (SLPC) to lodge an ethical complaint against Justice Parker. That complaint generated a yearlong investigation by the Judicial Inquiry Commission. That inquisition, and lengthy litigation, was based on nothing more than his exercise of his constitutionally protected freedom of speech. The SPLC hoped to remove Justice Parker by filing the complaint against him.

This is an important victory for free speech for not just Justice Tom Parker but for all judges. It was unreasonable to gag every judge in Alabama from talking about current issues. This is also a victory for the public because they have a right hear what judges want to say about the law, especially during elections. Justice Parker is currently an Associate Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and is running for the position of Chief Justice.

You can read our press release for more information and quotes from the ruling.

We encourage you to celebrate this victory with us and consider donating to Liberty Counsel to enable us to serve others across America.