Once again, past remarks from Alabama’s Republican candidate for US Senate, Roy Moore, have exposed him saying something that can be interpreted as, if not pro-slavery, slavery-tolerant.
Andrew Kaczynski at CNN uncovered 2011 remarks in which Moore responded positively to a radio host’s comment that all constitutional amendments after the 10th should be abolished. Moore said, “That would eliminate many problems. You know, people don’t understand how some of these amendments have completely tried to wreck the form of government that our forefathers intended.”
Moore, who is facing Democrat Doug Jones in a special election on Tuesday, apparently believes that the amendments enacted after the Bill of Rights have negatively limited states’ rights, citing as one example the 14th Amendment. Moore argued the 14th Amendment “restrict[s] the states from doing something that the federal government was restricted from doing and allow[s] the federal government to do something which the first 10 amendments prevented them from doing.”
The 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law, would later be used by the US Supreme Court to strike down states’ bans on same-sex marriage, including the Alabama ban that Moore supported so strongly that he got kicked off the state Supreme Court for refusing to stop enforcing it. The amendment’s been central to other US Supreme Court decisions protecting civil rights as well, including those that supported racial integration in public education and ended states’ bans on interracial marriage.
There are also many other amendments after the 10th of massive importance to civil rights: the 13th ended slavery, the 15th protects black voting rights, and the 19th gives women the right to vote. (The 17th also establishes popular votes for US Senate elections, a process Moore is currently in the middle of.)
So Moore suggested getting rid of the constitutional amendments that ended slavery and protect both black Americans’ and women’s voting rights.
Moore keeps getting caught making racially insensitive comments
Kaczynski’s reveal comes a few days after comments resurfaced in which Moore said that the US was “great” during the era of slavery.
Asked by a black man at a September campaign rally about what President Donald Trump means when he says “make America great again,” Moore at first acknowledged the US’s history of racial tensions. Then he said, “I think it was great at the time when families were united — even though we had slavery. They cared for one another. People were strong in the families. Our families were strong. Our country had a direction.” He later added that he was focused on culture, not policy, in his remarks.
Moore’s campaign has strenuously rejected the suggestion that Moore is okay with America’s original sin.
A campaign spokesperson responded to CNN about the constitutional amendment comments:
Once again, the media is taking a discussion about the overall framework for the separation of powers as laid out in the constitution to twist Roy Moore’s position on specific issues. Roy Moore does not now nor has he ever favored limiting an individual’s right to vote, and as a judge, he was noted for his fairness and for being a champion of civil rights.
Judge Moore has expressed concern, as many other conservatives have, that the historical trend since the ratification of the Bill of Rights has been for federal empowerment over state empowerment.
Similarly, a campaign official told me last week, after I asked if Moore really thought America was last great when it had slavery, “To suggest such is recklessly malicious. Judge Moore clearly made his point: America is great when our families are united, as in the husband and wife committed to each other and raising their children to be good citizens.” She did not respond to a follow-up question about why, then, Moore brought up slavery at all.
But this isn’t the first time Moore has made horribly insensitive comments. At the very same September campaign rally, he referred to Native Americans and Asian Americans as “reds and yellows.” Prior to that, he compared the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage to the decision that effectively denied black people citizenship. He has questioned whether former President Barack Obama was born in the US. And he previously argued that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress.
Then there’s the multiple allegations against Moore of sexual harassment and assault, including an accusation from a woman who was 14 at the time of the alleged assault.
No one but Moore can say with certainty what’s in his heart and mind. But there’s a straightforward explanation for why Moore keeps getting caught making these kinds of comments over and over again: He believes what he’s saying.
Take Moore at his word
These days, politicians don’t normally get caught making remarks that can be interpreted as anything remotely close to pro-slavery. It would typically be considered a complete — probably campaign-ending — disaster if a major candidate for office said anything that could be construed as explicitly racist.
Yet Moore has been caught making these kinds of remarks not once, but twice. And on top of that, he has a history of bigoted remarks.
We saw a similar thing with Trump, who’s backing Moore. As candidate for president, he made all sorts of racist comments — suggesting that Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists, proposing a ban on all Muslims entering the US, saying a US judge should recuse himself from a case simply because of his Mexican heritage, and deploying dog whistles about “law and order.”
Just like Moore, Trump’s supporters insisted he wasn’t racist. But then, as president, Trump equated a group of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and white nationalists who descended on Charlottesville, Virginia, with the counterprotesters who stood against them. His administration has also pursued policies that will disproportionately hurt minority groups, including his travel ban, immigration restrictions, “tough on crime” policies, and potential voting restrictions. The campaign warnings became presidential reality.
Perhaps at some point we should take these adult men at their word — and listen to the things that they keep saying.