Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore asked the state’s high court yesterday to restore him to office, calling his expulsion “dangerous.”
In legal briefs he argued his dismissal from office Nov. 13 for defiance of a federal judge’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument sets a “dangerous precedent” that requires judges to deny their oath of office by barring acknowledgement of God, which is stipulated in Alabama’s constitution.
Roy Moore (Photo: WSFA.com)
Moore said he was ousted because he failed a “religious test” forcing him to choose between allegiance to God and his job.
Alabama’s nine-member Court of the Judiciary voted unanimously to oust Moore for defiance of U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson’s order to remove the 5,300 pound granite monument he installed in the rotunda of the state courthouse two years ago. If the ruling stands, Gov. Bob Riley will appoint a new chief justice.
Thompson ruled the monument is an unconstitutional promotion of religion by the government. Moore, noting the First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion,” argues his monument has nothing to do with Congress making a law. He points out the Ten Commandments are part of the country’s moral foundation.
The elected judges on the state’s high court have disqualified themselves from deciding Moore’s appeal. It will be heard instead by seven retired judges selected at random. Moore’s attorneys also filed a motion yesterday objecting to the method for choosing the replacement judges.
Attorney General Bill Pryor has 20 days to respond to Moore’s brief.
Moore’s attorneys will argue the high court failed to consider the legality of Thompson’s order to remove the monument.
“The Court of the Judiciary’s crucial failure to distinguish between lawful and unlawful orders sets a dangerous precedent for all judicial officials in that … it requires obedience to all court orders including those that are illegal and unethical,” Moore’s brief says.
In an interview with WND last month, Moore argued “the rule of law is not Judge Thompson’s order, but what the law says.”
“There are too many people in our country who don’t recognize that the rule of law is not whatever a judge says,” Moore said. “If that were true, judges in Hitler’s Germany would have been correct ordering people to die.”
One of the points Moore’s attorneys will emphasize is Thompson’s unwillingness to define religion.
In his 94-page opinion, Thompson said Moore’s “definition of religion proves, if anything, that it is unwise, and even dangerous, to put forth, as a matter of law, one definition of religion under the First Amendment.”
Moore commented: “This judge said, in his own opinion, the court does not have the expertise to define the word religion. … Now when you do that, you can’t interpret law.”
Thompson, he contended, “didn’t follow the law, he followed his own feelings, and therefore, when they say I violated the rule of law by not following his orders, then it does matter how he interprets the statute.”
The Nov. 13 judgment [Pdf file requires Adobe Reader] said the panel “has found that Chief Justice Moore not only willfully and publicly defied the orders of a United States district court, but upon direct questioning by the court, he also gave the court no assurances that he would follow that order or any similar order in the future.
“In fact,” the judgment continued, “he affirmed his earlier statements in which he said he would do the same. Under these circumstances, there is no penalty short of removal from office that would resolve this issue.”
On Nov. 17, Moore announced he will propose federal legislation to reassert the power he insists Congress already has to limit the jurisdiction of federal courts.
He made a veiled reference to his legislative move immediately after he was removed from office, promising he would make an announcement that “could alter the course of this country.”