News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Interpreting law requires discipline, not populism

Voters elected him as a conservative Republican but Alabama Supreme Court Associate Justice Tom Woodall says he's no longer part of that movement.

The reason is both sad and frightening. He says its because he follows the law in deciding cases.

Republicans capitalize big time on having candidates for appellate courts who say they will interpret laws and not create them. It's been a good slogan although most candidates strain to clearly define the murky area between making and interpreting law.

Judge Woodall is pretty irate at fellow Republican Justice Tom Parker for recruiting opponents to run against him and two other GOP justices as part of a Roy Moore slate because they, too, followed the law.

Justice Parker's intemperate outburst against his fellow justices because they followed the law in a death penalty case is disturbing.

The Moore slate is in retaliation for the associate justices failing to reinstate the former chief justice after the Court of the Judiciary, an ethics panel made up of judges, lawyers and non-lawyers, kicked him out of office for defying a federal judge's order to remove his Ten Commandments monument from the Supreme Court building.

They followed the law.

Mr. Parker is running for chief justice as part of the Moore-for-governor slate.

Justice Woodall says that electing Mr. Moore, Justice Parker and his other candidates would set the state back 40 or 50 years.

That's political rhetoric, but it's also a caution to voters who bought the Republican ideology of judges interpreting, not making law.

Ours is a nation of laws that legislative bodies enact, and laws that courts continuously examine for meaning and test for constitutionality. We are supposed to follow them or change them through legislation.

Voters need to be aware that Mr. Moore and Justice Parker apparently have other plans.

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