An Alabama Supreme Court judge has won the right to publicly criticize a pending or decided case, including those that favor same-sex marriage legalization.
Alabama Supreme Court Associate Justice Tom Parker had sued the Judicial Inquiry Commission of Alabama over their decision to investigate him in 2015 for criticizing cases regarding gay marriage legalization.
The investigation was brought on by a complaint filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which argued that Justice Parker was breaking the court’s ethics code by offering his criticism of gay marriage legalization.
U.S. District Court Judge W. Keith Watkins issued a permanent injunction on Monday declaring a state rule restricting Parker’s ability to offer public comment on certain cases a violation of the First Amendment.
“Canon 3A(6) as presently constituted facially violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution because it is not narrowly tailored to meet a compelling government interest, and is both overinclusive and substantially overbroad,” wrote Judge Watkins in his decision.
Watkins ruled that Alabama’s JIC cannot “punish any public comment by a judge unless the public comment can reasonably be expected to affect the outcome or impair the fairness of a proceeding pending or impending in any court.”
“Public discussion by judges or judicial candidates of an issue of public importance cannot be proscribed or punished under Canon 3A(6) merely because that issue may happen to be the subject of a pending or impending proceeding in any court,” added Watkins.
Watkins also ordered the defendants to pay $100,000 plus reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to Parker’s lawyers within 30 days of the permanent injunction being issued.
In Oct. 2015, Parker did an interview on “Focal Point,” a radio program hosted by Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, in which he commented on a pending case regarding the state’s gay marriage debate and criticized the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage.
Soon after, the SPLC filed an ethics complaint against Parker, arguing that his comments violated Alabama Judicial Canons 1, 2A and 3A(6).
Click here to read more.
Source: Christian Post