Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore vowed yesterday to keep a 2? ton granite monument depicting the Ten Commandments in the rotunda of the judiciary building in Montgomery, in defiance of a federal appeals court order to have the testimonial removed.
“We must defend our rights and preserve our constitution,” Moore told reporters. “For the federal courts to adopt the agenda of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and to remove the knowledge of God and morality from our lives is wrong.”
Moore, who penned a treatise regarding his battle to retain the monument in this month’s Whistleblower magazine, WND’s monthly print publication, says he’s not sure if he’ll ask the federal courts to rehear his case or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, CNN reported.
On Tuesday, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled unanimously that the monument must be removed from the judiciary building because it represented a government promotion of a particular religion, in violation of the First Amendment.
In its decision, the panel compared Moore to Southern officials and governors of the past who refused to integrate schools after being ordered to do so by federal courts.
The court also predicted Moore would lose if he appealed the decision to the Supreme Court. “If necessary, the court order will be enforced. The rule of law will prevail,” the judges wrote.
Moore insisted he is upholding the rule of law. “The rule of law must prevail in this case,” he told reporters.
The chief justice, who has become known as the “Ten Commandments judge,” was sued by the ACLU after placing the monument in the courthouse in the middle of the night in July 2001.
The four-foot tall monument features the Commandments inscribed on two tablets along with historical quotations.
Philip Drake, Moore’s attorney, said federal courts, along with the three lawyers who sued, have misconstrued the true intent and real meaning of the Constitution, CNN said.
Drake maintains that the First Amendment says only that Congress shall make no law “respecting the establishment of religion.”
“This monument is not a law respecting the establishment of religion,” Drake said.
The federal appeals court saw it differently.
“If we adopted his position, the chief justice would be free to adorn the walls of the Alabama Supreme Court’s courtroom with sectarian religious murals and have decidedly religious quotations painted above the bench,” the judges wrote in their 50-page ruling. “Every government building could be topped with a cross, or a menorah, or a statue of Buddha, depending upon the views of the officials with authority over the premises.”
The Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center, which filed a brief on behalf of Moore, noted the appeals ruling came one week after another federal appellate court, the 3rd Circuit in Philadelphia, upheld display of the Ten Commandments on a wall outside a courthouse.
“Because there appears to be a conflict between the decisions of these appellate courts, we hope the United States Supreme Court will review these cases and reaffirm government’s ability to acknowledge in public our religious heritage, especially the moral foundation of our law,” said Edward L. White III, associate counsel for the legal group.
Moore first drew national attention after posting a wooden, hand-carved plaque of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom while a state court judge in Gadsden, Ala. The Civil Liberties Union of Alabama and the state of Alabama unsuccessfully sued Moore in 1995 over his actions.
He then mounted and won by a landslide margin an election to the Alabama Supreme Court in 2000, which he viewed as a mandate from the people to “restore the moral foundation of law.”
Editor’s note: Chief Justice Roy Moore is one of the key writers in the July issue of WND’s acclaimed Whistleblower magazine. Titled “THE CONSTITUTION: America’s ultimate battleground,” this special issue explores whether the Constitution is still America’s “supreme law of the land.” In his article, “Putting God back in the public square,” Justice Moore explains to Whistleblower’s readers what the 1st Amendment is really all about.