In an earlier post, I wondered whether John McCain might shift his stance on same-sex marriage to attract support from social conservatives.
I would like to discuss another possibility: does the California ruling create an opening for a socially conservative third-party presidential candidate?
In 2003, Roy Moore, then chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, gained national attention for his refusal to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama courthouse. Because of his actions, Moore was removed from office and, according to the Associated Press, "became a hero to the Christian right."
Along with the Ten Commandments incident, Moore's outspoken opposition to homosexuality may appeal to social conservatives. In a 2002 legal opinion, Moore referred to homosexuality as a "detestable and an abominable sin…a crime in Alabama, a crime against nature, an inherent evil."
In 2004, Slate Magazine discussed the possibility of Moore running for president on the Constitution Party ticket. However, shortly after the Slate article was published, President Bush proposed a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Although the amendment failed to pass Congress, Bush was able to rally the Christian right around his candidacy, which eliminated any opening in the 2004 race for Moore.
Although Moore remained on the sidelines in 2004, he clearly has political ambitions. In 2006, Moore mounted an unsuccessful challenge to Alabama's Republican incumbent governor, Bob Riley, in the Republican primary election.
Heading into 2008,Moore was once again rumored to be mulling a run for president on the Constitution party ticket.
However, at the nominating convention held in late April, the Constitution Party named Chuck Baldwin as the party's nominee. It seemed likely that Moore would sit out the 2008 campaign, but on May 15, the dynamics of the race may have changed.
Following the California Supreme Court ruling, referendums banning same-sex marriage are all but guaranteed to be on the ballot in California and several other states, which will keep the issue in the news through the election.
Will the reemergence of the same-sex marriage issue cause Moore to reconsider a run for president?
If Moore does decide to run, joining the Constitution Party ticket might still be possible. Having made several appearances with the party's 2004 nominee, Michael Anthony Peroutka, Moore already has an established relationship with the Constitution Party. Chuck Baldwin, the party's current nominee, has praised Moore as a "modern-day prophet," and might be willing to step aside.
According to its website, the Constitution party is already on the ballot in several states, including Florida. In addition, the party is apparently gathering signatures to get on the ballot in many other states, including battlegrounds Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Another possibility would be for Moore to run as an independent. Given Moore's popularity with the Christian right, collecting the signatures required to appear on state ballots should not be a problem.
While I do not know if Moore is seriously considering running, he has already expressed dissatisfaction with the Republican Party. Echoing Ralph Nader's infamous refrain from the 2000 campaign, Moore declared "right now, you don't see much difference between Democrats and Republicans." Moore has already stated that he is not a fan of McCain because he is "not conservative."
If Moore does run, he has the potential to affect the outcome of a close election by drawing conservative votes away from McCain; Moore may very well be the right's Ralph Nader.