News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Keep your wallet out — here comes the judge

Here we go again.

First it was Roy Moore who, knowing he would get sued and likely knowing the state would get hammered with attorney fees when he lost, used his position as chief justice of the state Supreme Court to make himself an instant idol of the powerful religious lobby.

Now it is Circuit Court Judge Ashley McKathan of Andalusia who is gearing up for a fight that the state, not the judge, will lose. The man who rarely wore his judicial robes at all began to wear the robe, complete with the embroidered Ten Commandments, in December.

"I'm not afraid of the consequences," he explained in a recent interview with the Associated Press.

Of course he is not afraid of the consequences. State taxpayers will feel the financial consequences, not Judge McKathan.

Here is the way it works. By granting interviews to the Associated Press and others, he will make sure the separation-of-church-and-state crowd hears about it and files suit. The many God-and-country advocates will pay for his lawyer. Judge McKathan will lose the legal battle due to longstanding precedent on the extent to which entanglement of religion and government meets First Amendment requirements.

After Judge McKathan loses, the groups who sued him will file a petition for payment of their own fees. A court will grant their petition, again based upon longstanding precedent for claims based on rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

And then, just as the case when Mr. Moore decided he preferred the state to pay the consequences, we will have to pony up a few more hundreds of thousands of dollars.

And in the event Judge McKathan loses his job in the process, no problem. He can become an acclaimed speaker and make a run for higher political office.

It comes as no surprise that Judge McKathan is "not afraid of the consequences." We, however, should be.

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