Former Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Perry Hooper, Sr. died on Monday at the age of 91.
Hooper’s passing leaft a void in the hearts of many around the Yellowhammer State who remembered him for his thoughtful, gentlemanly approach to Alabama’s most pressing legal problems, admirers of the late jurist said.
“I am saddened to hear of the passing of former Chief Justice Perry Hooper Sr. today,” said Gov. Robert Bentley. “Chief Justice Hooper was the first Republican Chief Justice to be elected since Reconstruction, and he served our citizens with honesty and integrity during his time on the Supreme Court.”
“He was a role model for many Republicans and valued public service. He was a Marine veteran and a strong family man. I know Alabamians join me in praying for his family, especially his wife Marilyn and their children, during this time,” said Bentley.
Perhaps Hooper’s most significant legacy stems from his historic challenge to incumbent Chief Justice E.C. “Sonny” Hornsby in 1994. Hooper ousted Hornsby, a Democrat, and led the way for a sea change on the high court which saw all of the Democrats replaced by GOP judges within 10 years.
The election resulted in an eleven-month ordeal involving recounts, extensive litigation, and heated legal argument in a Mobile court over thousands of absentee ballots later thrown out by a federal judge.
“Throughout that litigation Chief Justice Hooper served as a model of quiet dignity and class,” said Bill Pryor, a federal judge and former Alabama attorney general, in a statement.
Former Gov. Fob James, who swore Hooper in 1995 after he prevailed in a legal battle with massive ramifications from Alabama politics, called the late justice “a wonderful example for judges and public servants to know the law.”
“He knew the law,” said James. “And he was absolutely fearless in doing upfront what was right.”
State Auditor Jim Zeigler also put out a statement after Hooper’s passing.
“An Abundant Life: Judge Perry Hooper Sr. Saying goodbye to a chapter of Alabama historic, a Southern gentleman, a founder of the Alabama Republican Party, and an All-American family man,” said Zeigler. “Court is adjourned.”
Hooper’s son, Rep. Perry Hooper, Jr., currently serves in the Alabama House.