We didn’t think Roy Moore would exit the scene, quietly or otherwise, after his loss to Doug Jones in last year’s U.S. Senate special election.
The former Alabama chief justice and his wife recently filed a second volley of lawsuits against people and entities they claim wronged them during the Senate campaign.
Defendants include the Highway 31 Super PAC, which was set up to back Jones and oppose Moore, and the political strategist and attorney who were behind it; four other political advocacy and communications firms; and a couple of political consultants.
They are accused of wantonness (gratuitous maliciousness, according to one dictionary), defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and loss of consortium (deprivation of the benefits of a family relationship, because the Moores can’t go out in public peacefully).
The Moores say the defendants were responsible for “misleading and confusing” advertising — including a video implying that votes are public record and people’s neighbors would know who voted for Moore, who was described as a “child predator.”
They say they’ve suffered damage to their reputations, financial damages and emotional anguish; that Roy Moore has wrongly suffered “public contempt” and that the defendants contributed to his losing the race despite his investment of time, resources and efforts; and that his chances of being elected to office in the future have been damaged.
The Moores’ first round of suits, in April, were against four women who accused Roy Moore of sexual misconduct toward them when they were teenagers in Etowah County, and a man who allegedly helped The Washington Post develop stories about those cases. The Moores accuse the defendants of defamation and causing lack of consortium, and of being part of a liberal conspiracy to keep Moore out of the Senate.
Lawyers for those defendants already have filed motions seeking to have those cases dismissed.
Under New York Times v. Sullivan, a public figure — Roy Moore is one and given her active role in his campaigns, his defense and his foundation, his wife likely would qualify, too — must prove actual malice to have grounds for a defamation or libel case.
That’s a significant obstacle to clear.
As “red” as Alabama is, it’s not a crime to be a liberal in this state or to advocate and raise money for the defeat of conservatives here. The Moores have a point about the Highway 31 video. It was way over the top. However, one motion to dismiss strikes us as on target: “This lawsuit was brought as part of Mr. and Mrs. Moore’s ongoing attempt to present Roy Moore’s electoral defeat as something other than the legitimate result of an informed electorate exercising its will.”
Anyone who’s watched Roy Moore’s political career knows his campaigns are like an endless loop of “Onward Christian Soldiers,” in which he’s going on before with the cross to do battle and save the U.S. and Alabama from the Philistines.
It’s deflating to be rejected when you think you’re an agent of God’s will. Perhaps at some point the Moores will come to terms with their supposed destiny being unfulfilled.
A version of this editorial first appeared in The Gadsden Times.