POLITICS

Another Mississippi Gov. Candidate Refuses To Be Alone With Woman Other Than Wife

Former state Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller Jr. is the second Republican in the race to say he follows the "Billy Graham rule."
Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. at a forum in Starkville, Mississippi, on April 2.
Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. at a forum in Starkville, Mississippi, on April 2.

Another Republican man running for governor of Mississippi has said that he refuses to be alone in a room with a woman who is not his wife.

Former Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller Jr. told Mississippi Today reporter Larrison Campbell on Monday that he abides by the “Billy Graham rule” because it’s “common sense.”

“I just think in this day and time, appearances are important and transparency’s important, and people need to have the comfort of what’s going on in government between employees and people,” Waller, 67, said.

The phenomenon is named after the American evangelist who refused to be alone with any woman who was not his wife in order to avoid sexual temptation. The rule, which Vice President Mike Pence famously said he follows, applies to both personal and professional contexts. Critics argue the practice perpetuates the sexist ideology that women only exist for men’s sexual consumption, and that it excludes women from professional life.

“And there’s a lot of social issues out there about that,” Waller continued. “My goal is to not make it an issue so that everyone’s comfortable with the surroundings and we can go about our business.”

When Campbell asked if the rule ever interfered with his work during the 22 years he served as a state Supreme Court justice, Waller said it was not hard because he always made sure there was another law clerk or staff in the room. 

Last week, another Mississippi gubernatorial candidate, state Rep. Robert Foster (R), made headlines when he refused to let the same journalist shadow him on the campaign because of her gender.    

“They put the onus on me as a woman to make [Foster] feel comfortable, when it was his issue and his rule,” Campbell told HuffPost last week. 

Waller did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.

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