In an effort to improve his tarred image, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore gave a speech Tuesday night at Walker Springs Road Baptist Church in Jackson, Ala. At least five women in the past week have accused Moore of sexual misconduct toward them when he was in his 30s and they were teenagers.
In his speech, along with addressing the fact that he's losing GOP support by the hour and lamenting that prayer was taken out schools, he said the "new rights" supported by the Supreme Court in 1965 caused today's problems and did not clearly explain which "rights" he was referring to.
"Obviously, I've made a few people mad," Moore said. "I'm the only one that can unite Democrats and Republicans because I seem to be opposed by both.
"They've spent over $30 million to try to take me out. They've done everything they could and now they're together to try to keep me from going to Washington, and why?"
Moore then talked about the need for more prayer in government and pivoted to 1965.
"By 1962, the United States Supreme Court took prayer out of school," he said. "Then they started to create new rights in 1965, and now, today, we've got a problem."
The landmark civil rights act of 1965 was the Voting Rights Act, which surely wasn't popular in Alabama. Signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on Aug. 6 of that year, the act aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented Blacks from exercising their right to vote under the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Moore also brought up in his speech that he once blocked same-sex marriage ceremonies.
"When a federal district judge without authority tried to intimidate our probate judges to start doing same-sex marriage, I had to speak up," he said. "And we stopped same-sex marriage for a time."
Some journalists and other social media users connected Moore's 1965 comment to the Voting Rights Act.
Roy Moore mourns the end of school prayer and then adds "they started creating new rights in 1965"
— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) November 15, 2017
If you want to understand #RoyMoore, watch👇🏽. What new rights is he referencing from 1965? We call them #VotingRights for black folks in 🇺🇸. Again, the souls of #Republicans hang in the balance. #Alabama has an amazing opp to correct or affirm the country's worst perceptions. pic.twitter.com/zgS3whUQvc
— Natalie S. Burke (@natalie4health) November 15, 2017
Soledad O'Brien, anchor and producer of the political magazine program "Matter of Fact," tweeted:
Kudos to Roy Moore for outing himself as a white supremacist: https://t.co/zIrgaXzAIS
— Soledad O'Brien (@soledadobrien) November 15, 2017
MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid tweeted:
I mean what-EVER could have been going on in Alabama in 1965 that changed things in a way that makes ole' Roy so uncomfortable...? https://t.co/czXxrgNR9Z
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) November 15, 2017
In Selma, Ala., on March 7, 1965, state troopers attacked about 600 nonviolent demonstrators who were protesting voter suppression and police brutality as they marched across The Edmund Pettus Bridge. The day of violence became known as Bloody Sunday.
Civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) was at the march and was brutally attacked. In Twitter posts on Nov. 7 he encouraged Americans to vote, mentioning his experience that day.
I was beaten, left bloody and unconscious so that every American has the right to vote. Friends of mine gave their lives. Do your part. Vote
— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) November 7, 2017
The vote is precious, almost sacred. It is the most powerful nonviolent tool or instrument in a democratic society. Use it. #ElectionDay
— John Lewis (@repjohnlewis) November 7, 2017
Moore, known for fueling the "birther" movement against former President Barack Obama, has the support of Stephen Bannon, a white nationalist and former top White House strategist. Moore once spoke to the white supremacist group that Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof cited as an influence.
Besides being ousted from the Alabama Supreme Court bench twice, he also served as president of the Foundation for Moral Law. The foundation hosted the 2010 Alabama Secession Day Commemoration. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the featured speakers were "tied to the League of the South, a neo-Confederate hate group that considers slavery 'God-ordained' and advocates for 'the cultural dominance of the Anglo-Celtic people and their institutions.'"
In January 2013, when Moore became chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, his wife, Kayla Moore, was named president of the foundation. He took the title of president emeritus.
The Alabama GOP senate nominee's Facebook page contained a meme, which stated: "Want to stop riots? Play the National Anthem. They'll all sit down."
Last month, CNN reported that a Facebook page for Moore contained racist posts aimed at NFL players who protest during the national anthem. In February, a meme was shared featuring a group of Black men standing on a damaged police car during the 2015 Baltimore riots.
The text read:
"Want to stop riots? Play the National Anthem. They'll all sit down."
The post was shared by Moore's wife with the caption, "I doubt it with these people-but worth a try?"
In October, Moore falsely claimed that protesting NFL players could be held legally accountable for protesting.
"It's against the law, you know that?" he said during an interview with TIME. "It was an act of Congress that every man stand and put their hand over their heart. That's the law."
Moore cited a section of U.S. Code that he said backed his claim.
"If they didn't have it in there, it would just be tradition. But this is law," he said.
In response to the sexual misconduct allegations, on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Moore "should step aside" from the Dec. 12 special election, and Tuesday, the Republican National Committee pulled out of a fundraising pact with the Alabama candidate.