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The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal by “Ten Commandment’s judge” Roy Moore to avoid a federal judge’s midnight deadline to remove his display of the Decalogue from an Alabama judicial building.
The justices said late this afternoon they would not be drawn into the dispute, at least for now, which centers on whether the monument violates the Constitution’s First Amendment ban on establishment of religion, the Associated Press reported.
Defenders of Moore held a candlelight vigil just after midnight, launching a round-the-clock protest as the deadline loomed for the federal court order.
Supporters of Judge Moore at Alabama judicial building this morning (Photo: Wsfa.com)
Yesterday, a federal appeals court declined Moore’s request to lift the order. The Alabama chief justice had asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider its decision until the U.S. Supreme Court can rule on his petition to intervene.
As WorldNetDaily reported, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued an ultimatum to Moore Aug. 5 to remove the washing machine-sized granite monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments by midnight tonight.
Thompson has said he could fine the state about $5,000 a day if the monument is not removed by the end of the day.
Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore
In an interview this morning on CBS television’s “The Early Show,” Moore restated his refusal to back down, insisting his effort is “not about a monument, it’s not about politics or religion, it’s about the acknowledgment of God.”
“We must acknowledge God because our constitution says our justice system is established upon God. For [the judge] to say ‘I can’t say who God is’ is to disestablish the justice system of this state,” he said.
Alabama Attorney General William Pryor – an observant Roman Catholic engaged in a contentious battle over his nomination by President Bush to a federal judgeship – has promised to ensure Thompson’s order is obeyed.
Pryor said yesterday he expects the monument “to be removed very soon,” the Mobile Register reported.
The attorney general, who has supported the monument, said he would put his personal beliefs aside on this issue.
“My responsibility is to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law, and I will be doing my duty,” Pryor said in response to a question after a speech to business leaders yesterday.
This morning, Moore filed his emergency request with Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who handles cases from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Kennedy had the option of addressing the case himself or referring it to the full court.
Moore lost an appeal July 1 at the 11th Circuit, which upheld Thompson’s earlier ruling that the monument, due to its placement in the rotunda of the judicial building, was a violation of the establishment clause of the Constitution’s First Amendment. The original suit was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Another group that filed suit against Moore, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, contends the judge set up the confrontation with the federal courts to advance his political agenda.
Thompson wrote in his order that Moore, “for seemingly ‘extra-judicial’ reasons known only to him, intentionally created the scenario from which he now contends … he should be extricated … . The court will not be a party to any extra-judicial machinations of the Chief Justice.”
A Washington, D.C.-based activist group defending the chief justice, the Christian Defense Coalition, said it will hold a rally at 7:30 tonight at the Alabama Supreme Court.
Alan Keyes speaking at rally Saturday (Photo: Wsfa.com)
About 4,000 people, including Rev. Jerry Falwell and Ambassador Alan Keyes, attended a rally Saturday in Montgomery to support Moore and the display.
Keyes told the crowd, “What the judges are doing … is imposing a uniform national regime of disbelief and atheism on this country. They are doing exactly what the Constitution of the United States forbids.”
The president and the Congress could take courageous action to “put the bridle on these unruly courts,” he declared.
Early this morning, nine pastors led a gathering of about 30 worshippers at the state judicial building.
“Even if they should remove this monument – and God forbid they do – they’ll never be able to remove it from our hearts,” said the Rev. Greg Dixon of Indianapolis Baptist Temple, according to the Associated Press.
Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, said members of his group are prepared to be arrested in their defense of the monument, the Birmingham News reported.
“Our commitment is simply this, should they try to remove the monument from this court building, we will peacefully and prayerfully kneel around the doors, around the monument if possible, to prevent their removal,” Mahoney said.
Among Moore’s supporters are Jewish rabbis, but a fellow Southern Baptist leader contends the chief justice has gone too far.
Southern Baptist church-state specialist Richard Land believes Moore’s display is constitutional, but opposes his methods, reported Baptist Press, a denominational news service.
Ten Commandments monument at Alabama court house (Photo: Wsfa.com)
“However much sympathy I may have for Judge Moore’s beliefs and convictions about the Ten Commandments and the role they have played in Western civilization and American jurisprudence, I am dismayed at the prospect of a judge defying a court order,” said Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.
“One of the foundational principles of American law is that we believe in the rule of law,” he told Baptist Press
However, Rabbi Yehuda Levin, who claims to represent 1,000 rabbis and 750,000 Orthodox Jews in two national organizations, showed his support for Moore in a ceremony on the judicial building steps Friday, the Birmingham News reported.
The rabbi blessed the judge with a prayer and presented him with an embroidery bearing the Ten Commandments.
“May the Author of the Decalogue give you the strength and the fortitude to be successful in your righteous struggle and be an effective leader in the public arena for years to come,” Levin told Moore, according to the Birmingham paper.
Levin said he represents the Rabbinical Alliance of America and the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada.
The rabbi said he was embarrassed one of the lawyers suing to have the Ten Commandments removed, Stephen Glassroth, is Jewish, the paper reported.
“This to many people throughout America represents Judaism,” Levin said, according to the Birmingham daily. “God forbid. That’s why I’m here.”
Glassroth filed a complaint Thursday with the Judicial Inquiry Commission, which could decide to suspend Moore.
Moore declared Thursday he has “no intention of removing the monument of the 10 Commandments and the moral foundation of our law.”
He insisted, “I have maintained the rule of law. I have been true to the oath of my office. I can do no more, and I can do no less – so help me God.”
As WND reported, last month the U.S. House of Representatives voted to withhold funds from any enforcement action related to the Ten Commandments monument. The vote was 260-161.
Moore wrote a treatise on his battle to retain the monument in the July issue of Whistleblower magazine, WND’s monthly print publication.
In the August issue, entitled “LAW-LESS: Why many Americans fear attorneys and judges more than terrorists,” Roy Moore is the subject of an in-depth profile. Subscribe to Whistleblower magazine.