Update on 9:50pm ET: The Associated Press reports that Roy Moore won Alabama’s Republican senate primary Tuesday (Oct. 27) evening, defeating senator Luther Strange, who was backed by US president Donald Trump. Moore will face Democrat Doug Jones in a general election on Dec. 12.
When two of the least-controversial things a man favored to win a seat in the US Senate has done are pulling out a pistol during a campaign rally and riding a horse to the polls to vote for himself, you know things are getting strange.
Nonetheless, former Alabama supreme court justice Roy Moore is expected to best US president Donald Trump’s favored candidate in the Republican primary for Alabama’s vacant Senate seat tonight. In honor of Moore’s projected victory (which, in a deep-red state, very likely means winning the actual election), here’s a list of his most outspoken, unruly, and downright troubling moments, in chronological order.
Getting fired from the Supreme Court over a 10 commandments statue
Installing a giant statue of the 10 commandments in the Alabama Supreme Court without telling the other eight justices is one thing. Refusing to obey a federal-court order to remove it is quite another. When then-chief justice Moore was fired in 2003 over the 2.6-ton granite monument, he complained that he had been removed because he “acknowledged God.”
Likening the Koran to Mein Kampf and saying a Muslim shouldn’t be allowed to serve in Congress
When Keith Ellison became the first Muslim US congressman in 2006, Moore was enraged that he chose to be sworn in using a copy of the Koran owned by Thomas Jefferson, rather than a bible. He wrote an op-ed entitled “Muslim Ellison should not sit in Congress,” in which he wrote, “Islamic law is simply incompatible with our law.”
Moore continued: “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!”
Getting all religious again when returning to the Alabama state chief justice post
After losing two races for Alabama governor (in 2006 and 2010) Moore defied the odds by returning to his state’s chief justice job in 2013, nearly a decade after being removed from the position. Unabashed by his earlier dismissal for equating the law too closely with religion, at his swearing-in Moore said, “We’ve got to remember that most of what we do in court comes from some scripture or is backed by scripture.”
Being suspended for defying the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling
Moore’s second go as Alabama chief justice ended in as much controversy as the first. In early 2016, he ordered Alabama’s probate judges to defy the federal Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage. Nine months later, he was suspended (paywall) until the end of his term over the matter; the state’s Court of the Judiciary found he had violated state ethics. The move effectively finished his state judicial career.
Believing Obama wasn’t born in the US as late as Dec. 2016
Moore was fully on-board with Trump’s racist “birther” conspiracy, not only when the then-reality TV star was promoting it throughout the 2010s, but even after Trump had concluded he was wrong in Sept. 2016. CNN discovered that as late as December 2016, Moore said, “My personal belief is that he wasn’t [born in America], but that’s probably over and done in a few days, unless we get something else to come along.”
Implying 9/11 happened because America was becoming “godless”
In early 2017, a a speech given to the Open Door Baptist Church, Moore quoted a passage from the Old Testament’s Book of Isaiah used by fringe theorists to blame American atheism for 9/11, according to CNN. “Because you have despised His word and trust in perverseness and oppression…therefore this iniquity will be to you as a breach ready to fall, swell out in a high wall, whose breaking cometh suddenly at an instance,'” Moore said, quoting Isaiah 30:12-13. Then he added: “Sounds a little bit like the Pentagon, whose breaking came suddenly at an instance, doesn’t it?”
Moore continued: “If you think that’s coincidence…go to verse 25: ‘There should be up on every high mountain and upon every hill rivers and streams of water in the day of the great slaughter when the towers will fall.’ You know, we’ve suffered a lot in this country, maybe, just maybe, because we’ve distanced ourselves from the one that has it within his hands to heal this land.”
Later in the speech he reportedly said that the US had incurred God’s anger because “we legitimize sodomy” and “legitimize abortion.”
Saying America might be the “focus of evil in the modern world”
The quote was originally applied to the Soviet Union by former US president Ronald Reagan. Moore repurposed it: “You could say that about America, couldn’t you?” he told the Guardian in August this year. “We promote a lot of bad things.”
Any ideas of what those “bad things” are? Asked for an example, Moore said, “Same-sex marriage.” When it was pointed out that Russian president Vladimir Putin might agree with him, Moore replied, “Well, maybe Putin is right…maybe he’s more akin to me than I know.”
Seemingly calling Asians “yellows” and Native Americans “reds”
In a campaign speech in Sept. 2017, Moore decried the state of ethnic and ideological divisions in modern-day America, but undercut his point by using racist terms. “We have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting,” Moore said (paywall).
After an outcry over the phrase “reds and yellows,” Moore said his statement had been taken out of context. He attempted to clarify by quoting a 19th century Christian children’s song, called “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” saying in a statement: “‘Red, yellow, black, and white they are precious in his sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world.’ This is the Gospel. If we take it seriously, America can once again be united as one nation under God.”