Bible-quoting Alabama chief justice sparks church-state debate in embryo ruling

February 23, 2024

When the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are considered children under state law, its chief justice had a higher authority in mind. By citing verses from the Bible and Christian theologians in his concurring opinion, Chief Justice Tom Parker alarmed advocates for church-state separation, while delighting religious conservatives who oppose abortion. The most immediate impact of the ruling was to leave in vitro fertilization clinics in Alabama potentially vulnerable to more lawsuits and reluctant to administer treatment. While Parker’s concurring opinion does not carry the force of precedent, advocates for church-state separation fear he could inspire judges in other states to push the envelope. He served as former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s spokesperson during fights over a Ten Commandments monument Moore erected inside the building housing the Supreme Court.