Ethics Complaint Filed Against President of Southern Poverty Law Center for Comments About Roy Moore

SPLC President Richard Cohen

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — An Alabama attorney has filed an ethics complaint with the state’s bar association against the president of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) over comments made about embattled Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Trent Garmon, managing attorney of the Garmon Law Firm, filed the complaint on July 28 out of his belief that SPLC President Richard Cohen violated the rules of professional conduct, which prohibit making reckless or knowingly false statements about the fitness of a judge.

According to, the complaint notes that among the numerous public comments that Cohen has made about Moore over the pastor year, he has called the Chief Justice the “Ayatollah of Alabama” and a “demagogue,” and has stated that he was elected “to be a judge, not a pastor.”

“Moore has disgraced his office for far too long,” Cohen also said in a statement in May. “He’s such a religious zealot, such an egomaniac that he thinks he doesn’t have to follow federal court rulings he disagrees with. For the good of the state, he should be kicked out of office.”

Garmon wrote in his complaint that “our chief justice as elected by the voters of Alabama deserves the respect, honor and dignity the rules of professional conduct afford notwithstanding any disagreement as to legal positions held by Cohen and the SPLC.”

Cohen says that the complaint is “baseless.”

“My statements about Chief Justice Moore are protected by the First Amendment and were not ‘know[n] to be false’ or made ‘with reckless disregard as to [their] truth or falsity,'” he told “The fact that the Judicial Inquiry Commission has brought an ethics complaint against the chief justice based on a complaint that I filed reflects that my statements had a firm foundation in fact.”

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As previously reported, the SPLC filed a judicial ethics complaint against Moore over his letter to Gov. Robert Bentley last year, urging him to “uphold and support the Alabama Constitution with respect to marriage, both for the welfare of this state and for our posterity.”

“Be advised that I will stand with you to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority,” Moore wrote.

Other homosexual advocacy groups soon filed complaints against Moore as well, especially after a letter he wrote on Jan. 6 advising probate judges that the Alabama Supreme Court’s previous orders upholding the state’s marriage laws would remain in effect until the full court rules on how the U.S. Supreme Court decision affected the order.

“I am not at liberty to provide any guidance to Alabama probate judges on the effect of Obergefell on the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court. That issue remains before the entire court, which continues to deliberate on the matter,” Moore also wrote.

The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) filed ethics charges against Moore as a result of the complaints, and this week, the JIC urged the Alabama Court of the Judiciary (JIC) to remove Moore from the bench.

While the JIC declined to immediately remove Moore, it also declined Moore’s request to dismiss the charges. He is set to stand trial on Sept. 28.

As previously reported, in 2003, SPLC co-founder Morris Dees became the central opponent against Moore’s display of the Ten Commandments on the state Supreme Court grounds, arguing that the chief justice “placed this monument here to acknowledge the sovereignty of God over the affairs of men.”

In addition to taking issue with Moore, SPLC has been known for compiling its list of what it calls “hate groups” due to their biblical stance on homosexual behavior, including Focus on the Family and Family Research Council among its over 1,000 listed organizations.

In 2012, Roy Corkins, who was arrested after entering the offices of Family Research Council with a loaded gun, numerous rounds of ammunition and over a dozen Chick-fil-A sandwiches, told the FBI that his planned massacre was motivated by the “hate group” list on the SPLC website.

“How did you find [this organization] earlier?” an investigator asked in recorded video footage. “Did you look it up online?”

“Southern Poverty Law lists anti-gay groups,” Corkins replied. “I found them online. I did a little bit of research, went to the website, stuff like that.”

Tony Perkins, who leads Family Research Council, said that while the Southern Poverty Law Center characterizes Christian organizations as “hate groups,” it is instead the Center itself that is being hateful and inciting hatred with its actions.

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  • Liberal Elitist

    I applaud Mr. Cohen’s courageous stand while exercising his First Amendment rights.

    • B1jetmech

      “1st amendment rights for me..but not for thee”

      A liberal Democrat

  • Ambulance Chaser

    Which statement by Cohen was knowingly false or reckless?

  • Amos Moses

    “Cohen has disgraced his office for far too long He’s such a ANTI-religious zealot, such an egomaniac that he thinks he doesn’t have to follow federal court rulings he disagrees with. For the good of the state, he should be kicked out of office.”

    • Ambulance Chaser

      Cohen thinks he doesn’t have to follow federal court rulings he disagrees with? What evidence do you have of this?

      (And yes, for the record, I’m well aware of what you’re doing.)

      • B1jetmech

        If the president doesn’t have to follow Constitution then why should any one else?

        Wanna go there?

        • Ambulance Chaser

          Of course the President has to follow the Constitution. But try to stay on topic.

          • B1jetmech

            If Obama ignores or violates the constitution(which he has) then why is anyone else compelled to obey the law?

            Liberal attorney’s general don’t enforce laws they swore to uphold so why should anyone else?

            See where I’m getting at?

            Why do you come down on Roy Moore when Obama( the supposed chief executive of the law) ignores laws he doesn’t care for?

  • WorldGoneCrazy

    It is a little known fact outside of the Montgomery, AL area, but the SPLC was started as a scam outfit to make money off of the the backs of courageous Civil Rights pioneers. For a look inside of the REAL SPLC, and how even those on the Left have damning evidence against its credibility, consider:

    http://pamelageller .com/2011/02/southern-poverty-law-fraud-center .html/

    http://www .thesocialcontract .com/answering_our_critics/southern_poverty_law_center_splc_info .html

    http://www.americanthinker .com/articles/2012/08/southern_pove rty_law_centers_lucrative_hate_group_label .html

    • Ambulance Chaser

      I don’t really trust any of those sources, but whether they’re right or not, so what?

    • sangrita

      Pamela Geller is currently the president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative which she co-founded with Robert Spencer. The American Freedom Defense Initiative has been designated an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The British government barred Geller’s entry into the UK in 2013 saying her presence would “not be conducive to the public good.”

      The Social Contract Press (TSCP) routinely publishes race-baiting articles penned by white nationalists. The press is a program of U.S.Inc, the foundation created by John Tanton, the racist founder and principal ideologue of the modern nativist movement. TSCP puts an academic veneer of legitimacy over what are essentially racist arguments about the inferiority of today’s immigrants.

      Today, American Thinker, a not so thoughtful far-right online publication that likes to publish anti-LGBT folks like Concerned Women For America’s Janice Shaw Crouse and World Congress of Families spokesman Don Feder, really outdid
      itself. It devoted an ungodly amount of words to a fawning profile of Jared Taylor, one of the most prominent white nationalists in America.

      What could they possibly be American thinking over there? Taylor is a guy who publishes a racist newsletter, American Renaissance, which argues ad nauseam that people of color are lesser beings than white folks. His biannual conferences are filled with major white supremacists, Klan lawyers and their ilk. At one point, there was even a dispute among Taylor’s followers on the “Jewish Question,” if you can believe something that ridiculous.

      American Thinker doesn’t start its puff piece with any mention of those issues. No, sir. Here’s their first line about Taylor, “Good manners are infectious.” Seriously?

      Well, let’s just take a look at some of the “good-mannered” things Taylor has written. There’s this: “When blacks are left entirely to their own devices, Western civilization — any kind of civilization — disappears.”

      And now let’s kick the good manners up a notch. Here’s Taylor on Hurricane Katrina: “Our rulers and media executives will try to turn the story of Hurricane Katrina into yet another morality tale of downtrodden blacks and heartless whites… . But many whites will realize — some for the first time — that we have Africa in our midst, that utterly alien Africa of road-side corpses, cruelty, and anarchy that they thought could never wash up on our shores.”

      • Amos Moses

        “The American Freedom Defense Initiative has been designated an anti-Muslim hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. ”

        There …. fixed that for you …. you forgot the “scare quotes” ……. ooooooooo ……. scary ……. one group of degenerates calling people who oppose another group of crazies “haters” and “bigots” …… ooooooooooooooooooo ………… PG wears that designation with honor, i am sure …. we count our value by our enemies ….

        • sangrita

          You didn’t apply scare quotes, which would have been applied only to the part of the phrase that scares you the most. What you have provided is known as a quote. Thanks for that. It’s a valid and relevant quote from an internationally respected body of human rights.

  • Georgie Franklin

    Why is it that The South is the most religious, the least educated and the poorest?

    • Amos Moses

      “Educated” about what ………………

      • Liberal Elitist

        Knowledge that matters.

        • Amos Moses

          That would be knowledge of God then …… right …….. as nothing else matters ……..

    • Nidalap

      Nice stereotyping! 🙂

      • Liberal Elitist

        And so very true.

      • Georgie Franklin

        Hmmm Just facts. Look them up.

    • TK

      Because it has the most black people…by far. Thanks for asking.

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    USA has no sense of fairness or justice apart from the Judeo-Christian values. Americans must not sell or bend their conscience for the fear of Sodomites. It’s slavery all over again, this time for the sake of shameful sexual immorality that ruins children. Remember how your fathers and grandfathers fought against the evil tyrants. Evil men always require mankind to do evil, against God’s Word and against one’s own clear conscience. Today’s secular Western culture and its mental slaves don’t care about morality this century because of rampant childlessness( playboys and prostitutes do not respect parents or care about anyone’s offsprings), but no person should be forced to uphold immorality by those bored rich pervs; that’s the true human rights abuse. People have rights to God’s Word(truth) and morality and freedom and life.