News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
MONDAY, APRIL 17, 2006


Justice/candidate Parker makes target of Hugo Black

This is just a guess, but we'd say Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker will never make it into the Alabama Lawyers Hall of Fame.

Mr. Parker expressed indignation Friday that the Alabama State Bar inducted Hugo Black into that prestigious institution. Mr. Parker said this was a "shameful disgrace to the people and state of Alabama."

Mr. Black, a Clay County native, served on the U.S. Supreme Court for 34 years and died in 1971. He was a liberal who supported desegregation of public schools and opposed promoting religion in those schools, which made him a pariah during his lifetime to many white people and religious conservatives in his home state.

But today most people think he was right about desegregation. His views on religion in schools are perhaps more controversial, but reasonable people would grant that he made a courageous, principled stand based on his reading of the First Amendment.

What upsets Mr. Parker is that Mr. Black, in his opinion, "personally launched the war to kick God out of the public square in America."

(Mr. Parker, a protégé of former Chief Justice Roy Moore, is sounding more like Moore than Moore these days. Mr. Moore, the Ten Commandments judge who has a problem with separation of church and state, is running for governor and trying to sound less like a fanatic.)

It happens that Mr. Parker is now running for chief justice in the Republican primary against incumbent Drayton Nabers, who once was Mr. Black's law clerk. Mr. Parker criticized Mr. Nabers for taking part in the induction ceremony.

Mr. Nabers' campaign manager, Clay Ryan, gave Mr. Parker's criticism about all the attention it deserves.

"It would be inappropriate," he said, "to respond to a political attack launched on Easter weekend, and so we won't."

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