Say it isn’t so, Judge!

By Doug Patton

November 17, 2003

“Next week, I will make an announcement that will alter the course of this country.”

- Roy Moore, Nov. 12, 2003, after his removal as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for defying the order of a Federal Judge

Doug PattonBy week’s end, the pundits were speculating about Judge Roy Moore’s rather cryptic statement. Would he run for public office, perhaps for governor or the U.S. Senate? Or would he simply announce further legal maneuvering in his battle over a monument to the Ten Commandments, which has now been removed from the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court building?

Do any of these rise to the level of “altering the course of the country?” There is another possibility, one that could not only alter the course of the country, but could actually turn the American Dream into a nightmare.

I have the utmost respect for Judge Moore. He is a courageous man in an age of cowards. His defiance of the arrogant secularists who have restricted his right to acknowledge God in the public square would have inspired the Founders to invite him to Philadelphia to join them in signing their Declaration of Independence from the tyranny of King George. He is a very principled man.

But I fear that next week’s announcement could be that the judge intends to launch a third-party campaign for president.

Judge Moore is admired by a great many people across the country. The vast majority of us believe that a display of the Ten Commandments in a public building is no more unconstitutional than the words “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance. These are issues that all Americans can understand, and many are angry enough to do something about it at the polls next year.

The perfect vehicle for Judge Moore’s campaign would be the Constitution Party. Numerically, it claims enough registered voters to qualify as the nation’s third largest political party. In 2000, the party had more than 100 candidates on the ballot for federal, state and local offices, and voters in 48 states could vote for the Constitution Party candidate for president.

Originally formed as the U.S. Taxpayers Party, the party’s presidential nominee the last three cycles has been its founder, conservative activist Howard Phillips. A principled but frustrated Republican during his tenure with the Nixon Administration, Phillips says he resigned his position as Director of the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity when the president “reneged on a commitment to veto further funding for Great Society programs.”

In 2000, Phillips offered to step aside as the party’s nominee if Pat Buchanan would be their standard-bearer. But alas, apparently, $13 million in federal matching funds available to Ross Perot’s crumbling Reform Party was too much for Buchanan to resist.

Which brings us back to Judge Roy Moore. A perusal of the Constitution Party web site ( reveals a conservative platform and strong support for Moore’s stand on the Commandments.

And that is where the nightmare scenario begins…

Step one: Judge Moore accepts the nomination of the Constitution Party. He begins raising money on the Internet, revealing a groundswell of grassroots support on the right, similar to that of Howard Dean on the left. Moore appeals to evangelical voters to “make their votes count this time!”

Step two: Hillary Clinton announces that she is running for the Democratic Presidential nomination after all. The movement to draft her is just too strong, she says, and the danger to America from “the vast right-wing conspiracy” is just too great. She is the overwhelming favorite in the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries. She is nominated on the first ballot at the Democratic Convention.

Step three: George W. Bush is nominated at a somber GOP convention next summer. Throughout the general election campaign, he tries to hold onto his conservative base. But in the end, Roy Moore becomes his Ross Perot, thereby making him, like his father, a one-term president, and enabling the Clintons to return to the White House with a minority of the popular vote – again.

It could happen.

Doug Patton is a freelance columnist who has served as a speechwriter and policy advisor for federal, state and local candidates, elected officials and public policy organizations. His weekly columns can be read in newspapers across the country, on, and on, where he serves as the Nebraska Editor. He also writes for Talon News Service ( Readers can e-mail him at