A judicial ethics panel suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore yesterday for refusing to remove his Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Judicial Building rotunda in compliance with a court order.
Moore has 30 days to respond, according to Ruby Crowe, an assistant clerk for the court.
The chief justice appeared yesterday before the State Judicial Inquiry Commission, which heard a complaint asserting his defiance of the federal court order violates the state’s Canons of Judicial Ethics.
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Roy Moore spoke to supporters and press yesterday (Photo: WSFA.com)
The decision to file charges with the State Court of the Judiciary, a nine-member tribunal, resulted in his automatic suspension with pay.
The tribunal, comprised of judges and lay people, has three options, according to WTVM-TV in Birmingham, Ala. They can take no further action, impose additional sanctions or they can permanently remove Moore from his position.
A Moore critic, Morris Dees, from the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center, said the suspension is justified.
“I can’t think of a more fitting and appropriate reason to remove Judge Moore, because he is the highest-ranking judge in the state (of Alabama) … and he openly violates the law,” Dees said, according to WTVM.
The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Stephen Glassroth filed the ethics complaint Aug. 14.
Moore will not respond to the suspension until Monday, a spokesman told reporters yesterday afternoon, noting the chief justice had left the judiciary building.
Contempt motion dropped
Earlier yesterday, lawyers for plaintiffs suing Moore dropped a motion to hold him in contempt of U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson’s order to remove the monument.
The attorneys said they believe it will be moved next week. Thompson, who had ordered that the monument be removed by Aug. 20, plans another conference call for late next week.
“Our concern all along has been compliance with the Constitution,” said Ayesha Khan, an attorney for one of the plaintiffs, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, according to MSNBC. “Once the monument has been removed, our concerns will have been addressed.”
Yesterday afternoon on Joseph Farah’s WorldNetDaily Report radio show, Moore agreed with a caller who suggested groups such as Americans United and the American Civil Liberties Union, which also is part of the suit, are traitors.
“What does it mean to be a traitor to our country?” Moore asked rhetorically.
“When you destroy the relationship with the knowledge of God from our country, you destroy its very foundation, and that is treason,” he declared.
“And the ACLU and other organizations stand for that very proposition,” Moore said. “In fact, this is the only area of law where someone could walk in and say, ‘I see something, and it offends me,’ and have a case. That’s just ridiculous.”
Meanwhile, Moore’s supporters said they were willing to endure the heat and additional arrests to keep the monument inside, according to the Mobile Register. Twenty-two people were arrested Wednesday afternoon.
The manager of the Alabama Judicial Building, Graham George, met with Moore yesterday morning but did not say what would be done with the washing machine-size granite monument.
On its website, the group organizing an around-the-clock vigil and demonstrations, the Christian Defense Coalition,
has issued a “critical notice,” stating the Commandments monument is “scheduled to come out Monday.”
The group urges supporters, “If you have any way to come to Alabama, come! We need to have as many concerned Christians at the Supreme Court as possible! It is time to take a stand.”
Patrick Mahoney, director of the Washington, D.C.-based group, says many are prepared to protect the monument.
“We will kneel at the doors. We will prevent forklifts or trucks from coming in,” he said, according to the Birmingham News.
On Thursday, Mahoney declared to a crowd of protesters, “Every minute the monument stays in place past the deadline is a victory.”
The gathering sang “Amazing Grace” and challenged each other to try to shout, “God Bless you Chief Justice Moore,” loud enough that the justices could hear it inside their offices, the newspaper said.
Eight associate justices of Alabama’s Supreme Court overruled Moore Thursday, insisting he must follow the court’s order.
The associate justices wrote they are “bound by solemn oath to follow the law, whether they agree or disagree with it.”
‘I must acknowledge God’
In his interview with Farah yesterday, Moore pointed out the Alabama constitution says, “Justice is established invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God.”
“To uphold the duties of my office – I’m the chief administrative officer of the judicial system – I must acknowledge God,” he said. “I must acknowledge the foundation of that system, or I’m not doing my duty.”
Referring to Judge Thompson, Moore said, “When a judge tells me I can’t acknowledge God, through a Ten Commandments monument, he’s telling me to violate my oath.”
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D. James Kennedy (Photo: Coral Ridge Ministries)
One of Moore’s chief supporters, D. James Kennedy, senior minister of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., contended state officials are making a mistake equating a judge’s opinion with the rule of law.
He noted civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote in 1963 in his “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” that a “just law is man-made code that squares with the moral law of God. Unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.”
“That distinction is lost on those members of the Alabama legal establishment who have announced that, as Attorney General Bill Pryor put it, ‘My responsibility is to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law, and I will be doing my duty,’” said Kennedy, whose Coral Ridge Ministries organization has helped fund Moore’s legal defense.
In the U.S. over the last 40 years, Kennedy said, “federal courts have eroded and almost eliminated the right to acknowledge God.”
“They have progressively removed the principle that is at the foundation of our freedom,” he said. “We may be at a final watershed. If we, as a nation, fully and finally dismiss God from public life – watch out. When we remove the source of our liberties, our freedoms cannot but soon follow.”
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.