Down Memory Lane With Mike Pence And Roy Moore

Mike Pence and Roy Moore

Roy Moore’s victory yesterday in Alabama’s GOP primary occasioned a walk down memory lane by NY Magazine.

As the magazine’s article reminded us, Moore–crazy as he is–isn’t the only radical conservative peddling a noxious stew of theocracy, white nationalism and assorted bigotries: others identified included Stephen Bannon, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, Ben Carson, Sebastian Gorka, Sarah Palin, Steve King, Mark Meadows, and Jim DeMint.

And, of course, Mike Pence. Which will surprise exactly no one who lives in Indiana.

As the article notes, “Pence has spent most of his political career aligned with Roy Moore as a stalwart of the Christian right.” He only looks safe and/or sane when he’s standing next to our unhinged President.

Pence nearly wrecked his gubernatorial tenure in Indiana in 2015 by pushing through a “religious liberty” bill that made his state a national pariah and the subject of major business boycotts before he agreed to modify it. But long before then, as a leader of hard-core conservatives in the U.S. House, Pence was notable in the extremism of his commitment to conservative religious ideology. For one thing, he co-sponsored “personhood” legislationdesigned to make fertilized ova citizens for purposes of constitutional protection. For another, he was closely associated with the shadowy conservative Christian power-elite group “The Family” (a.k.a. “The Fellowship”) along with Jim DeMint, Sam Brownback, Mark Sanford, and other fire-breathing members of the cultural right.

Political opponents like to point out that Pence failed to pass any legislation during his 11+ years in Congress, as though that is a telling criticism.  In my opinion, we should be profoundly grateful for that failure, given the sorts of legislation he sponsored. For example, Pence was one of the original co-sponsors of what was called at the time the “single most outrageous bit of right-wing legislation introduced in Congress since the days of segregation”: the Constitutional Restoration Act of 2005.

[S]ome of the wingnuttiest members of the Senate have decided to attempt to turn us into a Christian Reconstructionist theocracy once and for all and have introduced the Constitutional Restoration Act.

Though it is described as a “bill to limit the jurisdiction of Federal courts in certain cases and promote federalism,” reading its actual summary proves enlightening as to its true intent: This legislation seeks to make it possible for Congress to remove any judge who refuses to acknowledge that the basis for all law, liberty, and government is God.

We can all guess whose version of God is the “author” (according to Mike and Roy)–or perhaps only the “inspiration for”– the U.S. Constitution.

Not so incidentally, the measure would have eviscerated the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, and made state court decisions–not decisions issued by that pesky Supreme Court– the final word on “God’s” law.

The co-authors of this modest proposal? They were none other than Roy Moore, along with his longtime sidekick Herb Titus, who was once the vice-presidential nominee of the openly theocratic U.S. Constitution Party.

Pence’s areas of agreement with Moore are extensive: both would strip LGBTQ citizens of any and all legal rights (Moore has advocated recriminalizing same-sex relations); both supported the above-referenced “Personhood Amendment” to the Constitution that would outlaw all abortions by making a fertilized egg the legal equal of a fully-grown human; both believe that Muslims are dangerous terrorists, and that American Muslims are intent upon imposing “sharia law” on Americans; both would defund Planned Parenthood…the list goes on.

The fact that Mike Pence is widely seen as an improvement over the current President–and viewed as a “mainstream” Republican–tells us all we need to know about this President and the current iteration of the Republican Party.


[Originally published at on September 28, 2017]

Sheila Kennedy is a former high school English teacher, former lawyer, former Republican, former Executive Director of Indiana’s ACLU, former columnist for the Indianapolis Star, and former young person. She is currently an (increasingly cranky) old person, a Professor of Law and Public Policy at Indiana University Purdue University in Indianapolis, and Director of IUPUI’s Center for Civic Literacy. She writes for the Indianapolis Business Journal, PA Times, and the Indiana Word, and blogs at For those who are interested in more detail, links to an abbreviated CV and academic publications can be found on her blog, along with links to her books..


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