4 months ago

Quin Hillyer: Doug Jones’ ad crosses a line


Roy Moore and his team are getting a taste of their own poison this week, but that doesn’t make the poisoning justified.

Democratic Senate candidate Doug Jones’ latest ad highlights three Alabama Supreme Court cases in which then-Chief Justice Moore “sided” with defendants accused of sexual crimes involving minors. The obvious implication is that Moore sympathizes with such sexual abusers because he is one.

It’s not necessarily – in fact, it’s likely not – a fair use of those cases. It is, however, the exact same sort of out-of-context (mis)use of court cases that Moore’s team engaged in earlier this year to help torpedo the possibility for Alabama’s own federal appeals court judge Bill Pryor to be nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court. It was wrong for Moore’s team to take Pryor’s cases out of context, and it is wrong for Jones’ team to do it to Moore. (Note: In one of those columns linked above, I wrote that I thought Moore’s team was behind the slams at Pryor. I later confirmed that Moore-connected lawyers indeed were helping lead the charge.)

Moore’s associates bizarrely accused Pryor of being “a strong ally of the homosexual lobby” merely because Pryor’s decisions (or dissents) in three cases happened to reach “results” favored by homosexual parties to the case. I joined some conservative legal luminaries in explaining how viciously unfair the accusation was, because in all three cases Pryor’s legal reasoning was plain for all to see, and it hewed closely to the actual facts at hand and the specific procedural issues involved.

Good judges don’t rule according to the policy results they desire, but according to how the exact language of existing law applies to the exact circumstances of the case – and, whether an observer agreed with Pryor’s conclusions or not (I disagree with one of them), it was obvious those conclusions were reached by using conservative, textualist reasoning.

Moore’s team was wrong to take the cases out of context in order to do a political hit job on Pryor.

Likewise, Jones’ team is wrong if it is taking Moore’s three cases out of context in order to do a political hit job on the judge. My preliminary analysis (not a full one yet) indicates this is likely what is happening here.

Jones’ ads highlight three cases in which Moore’s ruling favored the defendant in sexual abuse cases. Yet, just as what happened in particular with one of Pryor’s cases, all Moore did in one of the cases was argue a procedural point rather than address the merits of the defendant’s guilt or innocence.

The case involved a 37-year-old mentor at the Mobile Youth Advocate Program who had been convicted of sexual acts with two teenage girls. The case was a he-said/they-said case, without clear physical evidence. The defendant wanted to argue that the two girls’ relationship with each other, and his reporting of that relationship to their parents, led them to concoct their accusations against him. The trial judge had not allowed the defendant to mention part of those (alleged) dynamics to the jury.

The state high court split on the case. Five ruled the trial judge was right to exclude the argument; Moore and two others dissented. It obviously was a close call. To somehow insinuate that Moore’s dissent showed that he doesn’t care about child sex abuse is to also make that same insinuation against his colleagues, including the widely respected, solidly conservative Justice Glenn Murdock, who joined the dissent. That’s ludicrous.

Another case involved similar arguments about whether the accuser’s sexual history could be relevant, admissible evidence in another he-said/she-said case. Again, Moore was joined by two other justices in his dissent. In this case and the prior one, a closer parsing of the circumstances might help determine if Moore’s principles and reasoning seem correct or not, but they surely don’t, in themselves, show a weird predilection in favor of sexual criminals.

The third case looks more questionable, especially since Moore was the lone wolf arguing the technical legal point favored by the defendant while all eight of his Supreme Court colleagues ruled otherwise. The case involved a 17-year-old male with supervisory authority who sexually abused a 12-year-old boy. Moore agreed that the conviction on one count should stand, but argued that the other count should be dismissed because the particular statute used for that conviction applied only if a full adult used “force,” rather than a mere position of authority, in a case in which there was “abuse of children by other children.” In his explanation, though, Moore took care to say that such behavior is “an abhorrent crime and should be strictly punished” – but only under terms specified by the Legislature.

To use the vernacular: Ick. Yuck. This is clearly a case where Moore’s legal hair-splitting, whether legally correct or not, makes one just want to look away.

Still, all of which leaves the question open as to whether Jones is fair to insinuate that Moore’s overall record shows Moore to be strangely and uniquely sympathetic to those who commit sexual abuse. The New York Times analyzed the record and found that while “he sided with the accused in sex abuse cases more often than his colleagues did,” there also were three cases in which he did just the opposite, siding with prosecutors in sex-abuse cases while a majority of his colleagues sided with the accused.

And the Times – surely not a Moore sympathizer – noted that Moore’s concern for defendants applied not just for accused sexual abusers but also for the procedural rights of defendants in many other sorts of cases too. In addition, reported the Times, “Mr. Moore has expressed concern over the years about mandatory life sentences for nonviolent crimes, and once suggested that a death row inmate might not be getting a fair shake in the court system.”

Matthew Clark, a lawyer who worked for Moore, explained to the New York paper: “He had no love for criminals, but he believed that every defendant was entitled to due process of law. He saw many cases where the defendants, especially young black men, would be convicted solely on very weak circumstantial evidence.”

Clearly, the overall context does not support the insinuations in Jones’ ad. Even if one believes the somewhat credible allegations about Moore’s own long-ago sexual behavior, that doesn’t mean his rulings as a judge have shown bizarrely pro-abuser bias.

Considering the intellectually dishonest way that Moore’s legal henchmen attacked Judge Pryor earlier this year, it might be argued that the Jones ad is a sort of cosmic justice and that Moore is being hoisted with his own petard. This initial response is morally untenable. The kindergartener’s wisdom is also profoundly correct: Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Moore has flaws, maybe major ones. But this ad unfairly invents a flaw that probably doesn’t exist.

Yellowhammer Contributing Editor Quin Hillyer, of Mobile, also is a Contributing Editor for National Review Online, and is the author of Mad Jones, Heretic, a satirical literary novel published in the fall of 2017.

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26 mins ago

10 million southerners remain under storm threat

The Latest on storms and damage across the Southeast (all times local):

8 a.m.

Forecasters say a storm system that battered Alabama and Georgia will threaten a large part of the Florida and coastal communities in Georgia and the Carolinas.

The national Storm Prediction Center says much of north Florida and the entire Georgia and South Carolina coasts will be at an “enhanced” risk for severe storms, which could include damaging winds, large hail and a few tornadoes.


A small part of the North Carolina coastline is also included in the area most likely to see severe weather.

The area most at risk is heavily populated, with more than 10 million people and major Florida cities such as Jacksonville, Tampa and Orlando; Savannah, Georgia; and Charleston, South Carolina.

Forecasters said storms could strike some communities Tuesday morning, and others Tuesday afternoon and evening.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

52 mins ago

The only solution to gun violence in schools is … more guns in schools

As I drove my five children to school this morning I heard on the radio that the bill allowing teachers to carry guns might be debated today on the floor of the Alabama House of Representatives.

I’ve had my share of serious concerns about the proposal — training, oversight, unintended consequences — and have remained mostly unsure how we should proceed.

Until a few minutes ago.


My youngest wanted me to walk him to class, and when his little hand passed from mine to his teacher’s — and I felt that familiar sense of worry that all good fathers feel when leaving their children — I imagined … just for a moment … that his teacher was wearing a holstered sidearm.

And I felt a genuine sense of relief.

It’s time for our lawmakers to turn that fantasy into reality so parents across Alabama can feel that same sense of relief, knowing that if some insane shooter tries to harm our children they’ll at least stand a fighting chance because some of their teachers will be armed.

The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Will Ainsworth (R-Guntersville), will need as much flexibility and local control as possible to avoid becoming a hinderance rather than a help, though. It already allows local school systems to determine if they want to arm their teachers, and that’s a good start. That way, if a community doesn’t like how their system decides, they can take it up with their locally-elected school board.

Still, lawmakers will likely need to make further adjustments next year once we’ve seen how the would-be law is implemented. There will surely be some tweaks tomorrow, but that should not be cause for complete inaction today.

Listen folks: In sane world I’d rather see a pencil-packing teacher rather than a pistol-packing teacher, but we don’t live in a sane world.

The neo-Marxist left, with the help of libertarians and the acquiescence of lazy conservatives, has attacked and weakened our traditions and promoted fifth and disorder everywhere, especially in our government-run schools. What we saw in Parkland, Florida, is a direct result of their campaign to reshape our society … and it’s certainly be reshaped.

There’s nothing left for those who seek to live in peace but to arm ourselves, and those who watch over our children.

I hate it, but that’s the reality we face.

And just as the only solution to hate speech is more speech, because we’re not getting rid of the First Amendment, the only solution to gun violence is more guns, because we’re not getting rid of the Second Amendment, either.

Whatever emerges from this legislative session, if it doesn’t end with more guns in schools — either by arming teachers, a volunteer security force, or more campus cops — then we’d have failed.

And the left would take our society another step down the road to ruin.

(Image: File)

@jpepperbryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of American Warfighter.

1 hour ago

Karrie Webb gets US Women’s Open spot at Alabama

Two-time champion Karrie Webb has received a special exemption to the U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama.

Webb won consecutive U.S. Women’s Open titles by a combined 13 shots when she was at the top of her game. She beat Cristie Kerr and Meg Mallon by five shots at The Merit Club outside Chicago in 2000 and Se Ri Pak by eight shots at Pine Needles in North Carolina a year later.


The U.S. Women’s Open at Shoal Creek starts May 31.

Webb received a 10-year exemption for her 2001 victory, and she has remained exempt through other categories every year since then.

The Australian is the first player to receive a special exemption to the Women’s Open since Pak in 2016 at CordeValle.

(Image: Keith Allison/Wikicommons)

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

2 hours ago

Our problem is a widespread decline in moral values that has nothing to do with guns

One of the unavoidable tragedies of youth is the temptation to think that what is seen today has always been. Nowhere is this more noticeable than in our responses to the recent Parkland, Florida, massacre.

Part of the responses to those murders are calls to raise the age to purchase a gun and to have more thorough background checks — in a word, to make gun purchases more difficult.

That’s a vision that sees easy gun availability as the problem; thus, the solution is to reduce that availability.


The vision that sees “easy” availability as the problem ignores the fact of U.S. history that guns were far more available yesteryear. With truly easy gun availability, there was nowhere near the gun mayhem and murder that we see today. I’m tempted to ask those who believe that guns are today’s problem whether they think that guns were nicer yesteryear. What about the calls for bans on the AR-15 so-called assault rifle? It turns out that according to 2016 FBI statistics, rifles accounted for 368 of the 17,250 homicides in the U.S. that year. That means restrictions on the purchase of rifles would do little or nothing for the homicide rate. Leaders of the gun control movement know this. Their calls for more restrictive gun laws are part of a larger strategy to outlaw gun ownership.

Gun ownership is not our problem. Our problem is a widespread decline in moral values that has nothing to do with guns. That decline includes disrespect for those in authority, disrespect for oneself, little accountability for anti-social behavior and a scuttling of religious teachings that reinforced moral values. Let’s examine elements of this decline.

If any of our great-grandparents or even grandparents who passed away before 1960 were to return, they would not believe the kind of personal behavior all too common today. They wouldn’t believe that youngsters could get away with cursing and assaulting teachers. They wouldn’t believe that some school districts, such as Philadelphia’s, employ more than 400 school police officers. During my primary and secondary schooling, from 1942 to 1954, the only time one saw a policeman in school was during an assembly period where we had to listen to a boring lecture on safety. Our ancestors also wouldn’t believe that we’re now debating whether teachers should be armed.

There are other forms of behavior that would have been deemed grossly immoral yesteryear. There are companies such as National Debt Relief, CuraDebt and LendingTree, which advertise that they will help you to avoid paying all the money you owe. So after you and a seller agree to terms of a sale, if you fail to live up to your half of the bargain, there are companies that will assist you in ripping off the seller.

There are companies that counsel senior citizens on how to shelter their assets from nursing home care costs. For example, a surviving spouse may own a completely paid-for home that’s worth $500,000. The costs of nursing home care might run $50,000 a year. By selling her house, she could pay the nursing home costs, but her children wouldn’t inherit the house. There are firms that come in to shelter her assets so that she can bequeath her home to her heirs and leave taxpayers to foot the nursing home bill. In my book, that’s immoral, but it is so common that most of us give it no thought.

There is one moral failing that is devastating to the future of our nation. That failing, which has wide acceptance by the American people, is the idea that Congress has the authority to forcibly use one American to serve the purposes of another American. That is nothing less than legalized theft and accounts for roughly three-quarters of federal spending. For the Christians among us, we should consider that when God gave Moses the commandment “Thou shalt not steal,” he probably didn’t mean thou shalt not steal unless you get a majority vote in the U.S. Congress.

Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.

(Image: File)

(Creators, copyright 2018)

2 hours ago

Huckabee touts Scott Dawson’s social conservative bona fides, Shrugs off 2017 special election fatigue

PELHAM – Monday before taking the stage at the Pelham Civic Complex to stump for Republican gubernatorial hopeful Scott Dawson, former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-Ark.) offered Yellowhammer News his insight into the upcoming gubernatorial race and why he thought Dawson was the best choice in that race.

Huckabee explained that given the circumstances of disgraced former Gov. Robert Bentley’s departure from the governor’s mansion and the disappointment some may felt because of it, the time was right for a candidate like Dawson.

“Obviously the people of Alabama have had some tough times,” Huckabee said. “I understand it because it is very similar to what the people of Arkansas went through. It’s an emotional gut punch to see governors get in trouble. I think Scott is the kind of governor that is not going to disappoint people. He’s got leadership skills. He’s got charisma. But he has something that keeps a person out of that kind of trouble, humility. If you don’t have some perspective and don’t recognize that you’re not being elected to be a king or a prince, but a servant. He’s got a servant’s heart, and I think that’s his greatest asset going in. He knows what he doesn’t know and the person that will get you in the most trouble is the guy who doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.”


When asked if voters might be reluctant to participate in this year’s primary or dispirited because of the loss suffered at the hands of Roy Moore, the perceived social conservative candidate, in last year’s U.S. Senate special election, Huckabee dismissed any similarities.

He explained that Dawson’s convictions were not born out of political expediency.

“It’s not the same because you don’t have the scandals,” he said. “You don’t have accusations. You don’t have the controversy that was even unrelated to the scandals of the senate campaign. You have a candidate who nobody has surfaced to say, ‘Let me tell you about this guy.’ And what they have said is, ‘Yes, let me tell you about this guy. I’ve known him since he was a little kid.’ That’s something that very, very dramatically different. He’s a social conservative that has truly lived it.”

“His views and convictions are not because of politics,” Huckabee added. “He’s in politics because of his convictions. That’s very different because I’ve seen guys – they’ve never thought a lot about these issues. But they run for office and then they know they got to take a position because that’s what the voters want them to do. But they really don’t have those core values or deep convictions.”

Jeff Poor is a graduate of Auburn University and works as the editor of Breitbart TV. Follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_poor.

(Image: Mike Huckabee — Fox News Channel / YouTube)