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Ex-Justice Jean Brown to attempt comeback

By Phillip Rawls
Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY — Former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Jean Brown, who was defeated by a Roy Moore ally last year in a race that focused on Moore's Ten Commandments monument, will attempt a comeback next year.

Brown said Wednesday she will run as a Republican for the seat that will become open with the retirement of Republican Justice Bernard Harwood. And it looks like there will be competition from both parties.

Civil Appeals Court Judge Glenn Murdock said Thursday he intends to run as a Republican, but he's not ready to make a formal announcement. Murdock first ran for the Supreme Court in 1998, but lost.

Tuscaloosa Circuit Court Judge John England, a former Democratic member of the Alabama Supreme Court, said he's leaning toward running and expects to announce a decision soon. England was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1999 by then-Gov. Don Siegelman, but lost his race for a full term in 2000.

Lost re-election bid

Brown, 53, of Montgomery lost her re-election bid last year when former Moore aide Tom Parker defeated her in the Republican primary. Brown ran with strong support from the business community, which helped her build a $1 million campaign chest. But Moore's allies criticized her decision to join seven other Supreme Court justices in abiding by a federal court order to remove Moore's Ten Commandments monument from display in the state judicial building in 2003.

Brown has no regrets about that decision. In an interview Wednesday, she said she had always opposed judicial activism and wasn't about to change. Judges have to decide hard questions according to the law, not their personal preferences, she said.

She and Murdock said Wednesday it's too early to know whether the Ten Commandments monument will become an issue again next year.

Last year, Brown's campaign focused on TV. For her new campaign, she said she's hitting the road and going back to the grassroots style of campaigning that won her seats on the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals in 1996 and the Supreme Court in 1998, when she became the first Republican woman elected to the state's highest court.

Since losing last year, she has practiced appellate court work as a private attorney, but she said she feels a need to get back into politics.

"I believe God puts us on this earth to make a difference, and you can't make a difference sitting on the sidelines," she said.

The Supreme Court comebacks that Brown — and possibly England — will be attempting next year are rare. Tim Lewis, who directs the State Law Library, said the only similar instances he could find were during the 1800s.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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