By KIM CHANDLER, Associated Press
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Six former Alabama Supreme Court justices, including three Republicans, signed a letter on Monday endorsing Democratic Judge Bob Vance in the race for chief justice.
The former justices, including two former chief justices, urged voters to pick Vance over Republican Associate Justice Tom Parker in the Nov. 6 election. Parker is a current member of the court.
The former justices called Vance, a circuit judge in Jefferson County for the past 16 years, the most qualified for the position and said he would be a chief justice “of whom we could all be proud.”
“He is clearly the most qualified candidate for this high office,” the letter read. “Bob also has judicial temperament and the legal acumen required to decide cases on their merit. He knows that politics has no place in legal decisions.”
The three Republicans who signed the letter are former Chief Justice Drayton Nabers, former Associate Justice Tom Woodall and former Acting Chief Justice Gorman Houston. The Democrats signing the letter are former Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb and former associate justices John England and Mark Kennedy.
The Parker campaign did not immediately respond to the endorsement letter.
Vance received a similar endorsement in 2012 when he unsuccessfully ran for chief justice against Republican Roy Moore, for whom Parker once worked. Moore was twice stripped of chief justice duties after an ethics panel said he defied, or urged defiance of, federal court orders regarding same-sex marriage and the display of the Ten Commandments.
In a campaign ad, Vance has contended Parker will be “another Roy Moore” if elected to head the state court system.
Parker was elected to the Supreme Court in 2004. He won the GOP nomination this year after defeating Chief Justice Lyn Stuart with a campaign that appealed to social conservatives and emphasized his hope of one day overturning U.S. Supreme Court decisions such as the one that legalized abortion.