The same federal judge who ordered the removal of the Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of the Alabama Judicial Building has thrown out a lawsuit brought by three Alabamans who claimed the moving of the Decalogue violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
In his dismissal, Judge Myron Thompson claimed the result of the monument’s removal did not establish a religion of nontheism, but rather supported neutrality concerning religion.
Monument of Ten Commandments
“The empty space of nothingness in the rotunda of the Judicial Building is neither an endorsement of ‘nontheistic belief’ nor a sign of disrespect for Christianity or any other religion,” the Associated Press quotes Thompson as saying.
The monument was moved from the lobby to a back room of the building on Aug. 28 after Judge Roy Moore, the state Supreme Court justice who placed the Decalogue in 2001, was suspended by the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission when he refused to remove what had become know as “Roy’s Rock.”
In a suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, Thompson ruled last year the monument violates the establishment clause, which provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
He wrote in his opinion the monument was “nothing less than ‘an obtrusive year-round religious display.'”
Moore lost an appeal July 1 at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Protesters in support of Moore gathered at the judicial building for several days prior to and after its removal.
“It is a sad day in our country when the moral foundation of our laws and the acknowledgment of God has to be hidden from public view to appease a federal judge,” the Rev. Patrick Mahoney said on the day of the monument’s removal.
According to the AP report, an attorney for the litigants had not decided whether or not to appeal Thompson’s dismissal of the suit.
Meanwhile, Moore has rejected an offer by Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove to move the monument to his state for public display.
“Justice Moore has decided to keep the monument in Alabama,” spokeswoman Lee Ann Mayo told AP.