Parker stirring up political tempest

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Justice Tom Parker of the Alabama Supreme Court has stirred up a tempest which has brought him under a fierce barrage not only from the press but his own fellow justices on the court.

Parker, the only candidate blessed by former Chief Justice Roy Moore in the 2004 election to win, wrote an op-ed piece for the Birmingham News highly critical of the state&8217;s high court for overturning the death sentence of a 17-year-old defendant.

The court overturned the death sentence because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled a year ago that states can no longer execute people for crimes they committed as juveniles. In his opinion piece, Parker chastised his fellow justices because they did not resist what he called the &8220;unconstitutional opinion of five liberal justices on the U.S. Supreme Court.&8221;

Justice Mike Bolin, who was elected to the high court the same time Parker was elected, called Parker&8217;s remarks unprecedented.

Bolin&8217;s comments were lame compared to the reaction of Gary Palmer, president of the conservative Alabama Policy Institute, which ironically was founded by Parker some years ago.

In his rebuttal, Palmer pointed out what he called the &8220;utter hypocrisy&8221; of Parker encouraging the state court justices to become &8220;activist state judges to resist activist judges on the U.S. Supreme Court.&8221;

Parker&8217;s comments were seen by some as the opening gun for a race for chief justice in the upcoming prmary.

There has been much speculation that he might challenge incumbent CJ Drayton Nabers in the GOP primary.

It would be a no-lose race of sorts for Parker. He does not have to give up his seat as associate justice to run for chief justice.

Bob Ingram has covered Alabama politics for over 50 year