Judge Moore’s Jury
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
The Democrats are wasting no time in brushing aside any defense that might be offered by Judge Roy Moore against the allegations made in the Washington Post. It disclosed that an Alabama woman is alleging that Judge Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her back in 1979, when she was 14 and Judge Moore was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney.
The judge denies the allegations reported by the Post. The Republican leadership — led by Senator McConnell — is already calling for him to step aside if the charges are true. That’s not enough for the New York Times. Its star columnist, David Leonhardt, denounces the “if true” dodge as “cowardice.” The idea seems to be that the adage “innocent until proven guilty” applies only to the courtroom and not to politics.
Fair enough, we say. We’re not here to defend Judge Moore. It strikes us, though, that the Democrats might want to be wary of treating the allegations against him as a political matter. It could well mean, after all, that at the end of the day the jury is going to be the voters. In the Real Clear Politics average of polls going into this controversy, Judge Moore was up six points.
The most recent of those polls was almost a month ago, and the ground may well have already have shifted — or may well do so as a result of the allegation against the judge. So far the Washington Post has come up with only one felony-grade allegation against the judge. It found three other women who alleged he pursued and kissed them when they were teenagers and he was in his thirties. So there may be more stories to come.
Then again, too, Judge Moore has made something of a career of confounding the law. He was elected as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, only to be thrown out when he defied a federal court order that he remove a monument to the Ten Commandments he’d placed in the state courthouse. How did the people of Alabama react? They turned around and eventually elected him Chief Justice all over again.
Judge Moore threw away his second chance as Chief Justice by again defying federal judicial supremacy, this time on the question of same-sex marriage. He was forced to quit the bench a second time. How did his political party react? Its voters toppled their sitting United States senator and handed the senate nomination to Judge Moore.
We find the allegations against the judge as shocking as any newspaper does. The Times’ columnist doubts there can be some reckoning to remove any doubt about the facts. Given Judge Moore’s record, it’s no wonder that the Democrats are arguing the judge should quit before the matter goes to either a courtroom jury or a jury of the voters.