Alabama’s nine-member Court of the Judiciary removed Roy Moore from his position as chief justice today for defiance of a federal judge’s order to move his Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the state courthouse.
With a unanimous vote, the panel concluded Moore violated judicial ethical standards and removed him halfway through his six-year elected term.
Court of the Judiciary proceedings yesterday in Montgomery. (Sketch provided to WND by H.L. Chappelear)
“This court hereby orders that Roy S. Moore be removed from his position as chief justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama,” said Presiding Judge William Thompson. “The chief justice showed no signs of contrition for his actions.”
The final 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.”
Moore reacted to his removal by reading from the court transcript.
“It’s about whether or not we can acknowledge God as the source of our law and our liberty,” he said. “That’s all I’ve done. I’ve been found guilty.”
Roy Moore in court yesterday. (Sketch provided to WND by H.L. Chappelear)
He told reporters he had a feeling he knew what the outcome would be.
“I was not surprised by this verdict,” he said.
But Moore said, without elaboration, according to the Associated Press, he had consulted with attorneys and with political and religious leaders and would make an announcement next week that “could alter the course of this country.”
He can appeal his decision to the state Supreme Court, but if it stands, Gov. Bob Riley will appoint a new chief justice.
One of Moore’s chief defenders, the Christian Coalition of Alabama reacted to the decision.
“The action taken today by the Court of the Judiciary has reduced the constitutional oath of office to a frivolous and meaningless ceremonial exercise that now has no value,” said the group’s president, John Giles.
The complaint [Pdf file requires Adobe Reader] against Moore outlined six charges, including allegations he failed to uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary.
Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor, who prosecuted the case, argued the judge should be removed because he “intentionally and publicly engaged in misconduct, and because he remains unrepentant for his behavior.”
The chief justice deserved the severest penalty for his “sensational flouting of a valid federal injunction,” Pryor wrote in his pretrial brief.
Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor (Photo: WSFA.com)
In his opening statements yesterday, Pryor said the court should remove Moore from office because of his “utterly unrepentant behavior.”
The panel’s final judgment began with the statement: “At the outset, this court emphasizes that this is a case concerning only possible violations of the Canons of Judicial Ethics. It is not a case about the public display of the Ten Commandments in the State Judicial Building nor the acknowledgement of God.”
Focus on the Family Chairman James Dobson called the decision “an insult to all people of faith, who are being told that the public acknowledgement of God is unconstitutional.”
“This is further proof that our federal judges are determined to excise every reference to God from the public square,” he said. “In their hypocrisy, they ignore the fact that there are three depictions of the Ten Commandments and Moses in the U.S. Supreme Court building itself. Each day is opened with the phrase, ‘God save the United States and this honorable court.’ References to God abound all over Washington, yet the liberal judges choose to look past these historic acknowledgements of the Creator and beat up on the people of Alabama and its duly elected chief justice.”
Opened with prayer
Prior to the opening statements, Moore’s lawyers asked Chief Judge Thompson if he would lead the courtroom in prayer.
“Absolutely,” replied Thompson.
The judge then asked everyone to bow their heads, a court artist in attendance told WND.
“We call upon the Lord to bless these court proceedings and keep us in his ways,” he prayed. “Amen.”
Moore, who was suspended with pay Aug. 22, said prior to the trial he was “concerned about the court’s appearance” of bias, but he would not say whether he believed a fair trial was possible.
Court of the Judiciary. (Sketch provided to WND by H.L. Chappelear)
When he entered the courtroom yesterday, he repeated his request that the proceedings be carried live on television. Officials allowed only the verdict to be televised.
On Aug. 5, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ordered removal of the washing machine-sized monument in 15 days. Thompson had ruled it violates the Constitution’s ban on government establishment of religion and must be removed from its public place in the rotunda.
Moore refused to remove the monument, declaring, “The point is, it’s not about violation of order, it’s about violation of my oath of office.”
“And my oath of office to the Constitution requires an acknowledgment of God,” he said. “It’s that simple.”
As WorldNetDaily reported the monument, which Moore installed two years ago, was moved Aug. 28 from the rotunda of the Judicial Building to a non-public back room.
Moore’s defense attorney, Jim Wilson, argued yesterday Judge Myron Thompson’s order to remove the monument was invalid.
“Justice Moore had every legal right to decline to obey what he deemed as an illegal order,” Wilson said.
Prosecutors rested their case after about an hour of entering evidence. No witnesses were called, but they played two videotapes of Moore speeches.
Moore’s attorneys objected to the tapes because the contents already had been entered in written evidence.
Assistant Attorney General John Gibbs said in his closing statement Moore’s refusal to obey a court order “undercuts the entire workings of the judicial system.”
Defense attorney Terry Butts retorted in his remarks “propriety is often in the eye of the beholder.”
Butts also issued a warning to the panel: “Remember as you judge Roy Moore today that tomorrow you may be judged.”
A recent poll indicated 79 percent of Alabamians want Moore to complete his term as chief justice, which expires in 2006.
Attorney in court yesterday. (Sketch provided to WND by H.L. Chappelear)
One panelist, Circuit Judge J. Scott Vowell, asked Moore what would happen to the monument if he were returned to office.
Moore said he had not decided but “certainly wouldn’t leave it in a closet, shrouded from the public.”
Gibbs, in his closing arguments asked, “What message does that send to the public, to other litigants? The message it sends is: If you don’t like a court order, you don’t have to follow it.”
Moore attorney Mike Jones insisted, however, there “won’t be this mass refusal to follow courts. In fact, I might suggest there might be more respect for a judiciary led by a man with faith and conscience.”
‘Second American Revolution’
About 100 Moore supporters gathered outside the Alabama Supreme Court’s courtroom in Montgomery yesterday.
One backer was Flip Benham – head of the pro-life group Operation Rescue and of Operation Save America – who said Moore’s resistance of “those who are breaking the law” is the initiation of a “second American Revolution.”
Judge Moore supporter at “Save the Commandments” rally (Photo: WAFF.com)
“He is turning America right side up again in Jesus’ Name,” Benham’s group said in a statement. “We will stand with him!”
Benham declared Moore “has done more to remind this country of her biblical roots, and the ethical, moral, and legal foundations than any other person in the past 50 years.”
An opponent, Larry Darby of the Atheist Law Center, insisted Moore is in violation of the U.S. Constitution, according to WAFF-TV in Huntsville.
“The First Amendment dictates a separation between religion and government,” he said. “The government has no business making it easier for people to believe there is a God.”
‘Save the Commandments’
Moore supporters launched a “Save the Commandments” Sunday that toured the state with the message the Ten Commandments is Alabama’s moral foundation.
In Huntsville, Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition in Washington, D.C., urged the crowd to oppose the decision not to air the trial proceedings on television or radio.
Roy Moore (Photo: WSFA.com)
“Every citizen of Alabama needs to hear” the proceedings, Mahoney said, according to the Huntsville Times. “It’s tragic that your chief justice is [being prosecuted] for simply honoring God and posting the Ten Commandments. The posting of the Commandments unites Americans – 77 percent of Americans believe it should be posted.”
Organizer Rob Schenk said the purpose of the tour, which concluded yesterday in front of the judicial building in Montgomery, was to “bring the principles at stake here into the public arena once again.”
Schenk said he was most concerned about upholding the right of Americans “to acknowledge the sovereignty of God over our land.”
“Secular nations have one thing in common – mass graves, and the reason is that they believe the government is the final arbiter of right and wrong and good and evil,” he said.
Editor’s note: “THE MYTH OF CHURCH-STATE SEPARATION” – the special November edition of WND’s acclaimed monthly Whistleblower magazine – documents conclusively that the modern legal doctrine of “separation of church and state” is the work of activist judges, and has utterly no basis in the Constitution.
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.
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