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I’ve had the opportunity twice over the past several years to interview the current Alabama GOP Senate frontrunner Roy Moore at length and flesh out some of his, um, ideas. And let me tell you: If elected, this guy will be the kookiest, most dangerous man to serve in the U.S. Senate in many years, not to mention that he’d consistently cause embarrassing media spectacles, as if we don’t have enough of that.
Moore told me point blank that the U.S. is a “Christian nation” and affirmed the statement that “laws themselves are superseded by God.” He claimed that Islam is “a faith that conflicts with the First Amendment of the Constitution,” and insisted that, even after sodomy laws have been struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court, homosexuality doesn’t “have any kind of public right.”
Moore heads into a runoff in the GOP Senate primary race on Tuesday, leading in polls against incumbent Luther Strange, who was appointed to the Senate seat after Jeff Sessions left it vacant to join the Trump administration, which triggered a special election.
While Donald Trump himself is backing Strange at the urging of the GOP establishment in the Senate, his former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and Breitbart.com, which Bannon heads once again, are battling Trump on this race, strongly backing Moore. Sarah Palin campaigned for Moore this week in Alabama, proudly opining that, “Roy Moore was deplorable before it was cool to be deplorable.”
The “alt-right” is all in, labeling Moore a “disruptor.” That’s code for the very bigotry Moore espouses and which they support, including against Muslims, people of color (Moore recently referred to Native-Americans and Asian-American as “reds” and “yellows,” respectively) and many other groups.
Moore in fact represents the nexus between some of the hard-right evangelicals who support Trump and the white supremacists that also helped elect Trump and whom Trump gave a boost to after Charlottesville. Christian nationalism, as Jack Jenkins, senior religion reporter at Think Progress, explained, is very much among the driving forces in Trump’s base. Moore, as an anti-establishment bigot, is a guy in the mold of Trump. That’s why, according to the Washington Post, Trump had to be convinced by several GOP senators to campaign for Strange this weekend:
..Sen. Bob Corker — whose own relationship with Trump was frayed by a summer of curt criticism — paid a visit last Friday to the Oval Office, where he delivered a blunt request at the end of a broader conversation.
“You’ve got to go,” the Tennessee Republican told Trump, according to people briefed on the exchange. “We need you there.”
Moore was famously removed in 2003 as the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court (a position to which he was elected in 2000) by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary ― in a case that went up to the U.S. Supreme Court ― for refusing to take down a Ten Commandments monument from the courthouse rotunda which he’d installed there. He ran for chief justice again in 2012, and won, but was permanently suspended in 2016 by a judicial ethics panel because he ordered probate judges in Alabama to violate federal court decisions that ruled gays and lesbians have the right to marry.
Between his two stints on the Alabama Supreme Court I interviewed Moore on my radio program on SiriusXM, once in 2007, after he made an unsuccessful run for the Alabama governorship, and then in 2011, when he was mulling a presidential run (but instead made his successful run for Alabama Supreme Court chief justice the following year).
In our 2007 interview, Moore was enraged that current Democratic National Committee Deputy Chair Keith Ellison, a Minnesota House member who in 2006 became the first Muslim-American elected to Congress, had been sworn in that year on a Quran ― Thomas Jefferson’s Quran, to be precise ― and had publicly attacked Ellison.
“[Islam is] a faith that conflicts with the First Amendment of the Constitution,” he said in our interview. “The Constitution and Declaration of Independence has [sic] a direct reference to the Holy Scriptures.” (There is in fact no reference to the bible in either.)
When Moore came on my radio program again in 2011, I asked him, “Are laws themselves superseded by God?”
“I think you’re correct in saying that,” he answered. “This is a Christian nation by the fact that 90% of the churches in America are Christian churches and it’s certainly founded upon Christian principles. The supreme law of the land is the Constitution of the United States which recognizes many of those principles. Our freedom to believe what we want comes from God. When it comes from God, no man or no court, can take it away. That’s a God-given right under the Declaration of Independence, which is law itself.”
In 2002, Moore wrote a 9-0 decision in which the Alabama Supreme Court gave custody of three teenagers to their heterosexual father rather than their lesbian mother after the parents divorced.
“Homosexuality,” Moore wrote in the decision, is “an inherent evil, and if a person openly engages in such a practice, that fact alone would render him or her an unfit parent.” Moore went on to declare that homosexuality is “abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of the laws of nature.”
I asked Moore about that opinion and how it held up a decade later. He said he stuck by it. When I inquired about where in the law or in the Constitution it stated homosexuality is an “inherent evil,” he said, “I quoted the law. The [British] common law designated homosexuality as an inherent evil. The Constitution is predicated on the [British] common law. I’m quoting the history of the [British] common law upon which our Constitution is based.”
Moore then said that even after the Supreme Court struck down sodomy bans across the country in 2003, it didn’t change his view or his decision.
“What the court said is that you couldn’t punish [sodomy] criminally,” he said. “The court did not say that sodomy or homosexuality had any kind of public right.”
Now Moore could win the GOP primary in the Senate race in Alabama. This may give the Democrats the best shot they’ve had in many years of taking the seat, as former U.S. attorney Doug Jones would face off against Moore on December 12. An Emerson College poll has Jones within striking distance in the general election, though it’s a tough slog in Alabama for any Democrat to win statewide. Jones recently received the endorsement of MoveOn.org. Joe Biden, who recorded robocalls for Jones, is headed to Alabama to stump for him.
But white nationalists and the alt-right, including Breitbart and Bannon, see this race as a referendum on their power vs. the GOP establishment. They’re putting everything they’ve got into this race to install yet another racist bigot in the U.S. Senate and remind Trump just where the power truly lies in his base.
Follow Michelangelo Signorile on Twitter: www.twitter.com/msignorile
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.