No More Moore! Special Alabama Supreme Court Upholds Ouster of 'Ten Commandments' Judge

By Leaming, Jeremy | Church & State, June 2004 | Go to article overview

No More Moore! Special Alabama Supreme Court Upholds Ouster of 'Ten Commandments' Judge


Leaming, Jeremy, Church & State


"Ten Commandments Judge" Roy Moore's best shot at getting back his job as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court evaporated abruptly April 30 thanks to a 35-page legal opinion.

A specially appointed panel of retired Alabama judges had been formed to consider Moore's appeal. The panel deliberated the matter for a few months but seemed to have no difficulty reaching a conclusion. The unanimous ruling slammed the legal door on Moore and marked yet another losing round in his crusade to base American law on his view of the Christian religion.

"Two federal courts have concluded that this case is not about a public official's right to acknowledge God, as Chief Justice Moore contends," declared the court. "Rather, this case is about a public official who took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and then refused to obey a valid order of a United States District Court holding that the placement of the monument in the Judicial Building violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution."

The ad hoc Supreme Court declared that the Alabama Court of Judiciary, which yanked Moore from office for his refusal to follow a federal judge's order that a hulking Commandments monument be removed from the rotunda of the State Judicial Building, was on solid ground in doing so.

The special court's opinion noted that Moore violated an array of judicial ethical canons by refusing to obey the federal court order.

An angry Moore quickly blasted back, calling the court "illegally appointed" and "politically selected."

A statement on Moore's website, www.morallaw.org, argued that the Court of Judiciary's decision was flawed because it had failed to recognize that Moore's obstinacy was justified.

"This is about the Acknowledgment of God and many judges can't admit they are wrong and that they can enter unlawful orders," Moore's statement reads. "The rule of law is the written law and it is clear. The people of Alabama have a right to acknowledge God and no judge or group of judges has the right to take it from them."

The special Supreme Court panel was not impressed by arguments like this.

"As we held in Part I of this opinion, the Court of Judiciary had before it clear and convincing evidence that Chief Justice Moore violated Canons 1, 2A, and 2B of the Canons of Judicial Ethics, as charged in the complaint filed by the Judicial Inquiry Commission, by willfully, refusing to obey a lawful and binding order of a federal court, the justices wrote in Roy S. Moore v. Judicial Inquiry Commission of the State of Alabama. "In fact, the evidence of Chief Justice Moore's violations of the Canons of Judicial Ethics was sufficiently strong and convincing that the Court of the Judiciary could hardly have done otherwise than to impose the penalty of removal from office. We find that the sanction imposed was proper and that it is supported by the evidence of record."

For good measure, or simply to tweak the self-righteous Moore, Justice Harry J. Witters, Jr., one of the seven retired justices that made up the special panel, wrote a concurring opinion listing seven Bible passages that advise obeying the law. Among those Witters listed was Titus 3:1-2: "Remind them to be submissive to the government and the authorities, to obey them, and to be ready for any honorable form of work; to slander no one, not to pick quarrels, to show forbearance and a gentle disposition towards all men."

Americans United for Separation of Church and State, one of three groups that sued Moore in federal court over his Commandments display, lauded the ruling by Alabama's special Supreme Court.

"It's just too bad that Moore has dragged the state of Alabama through this long, costly and embarrassing ordeal," said Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. "I'm glad it's over, and I'm sure many citizens of Alabama are glad as well. …

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No More Moore! Special Alabama Supreme Court Upholds Ouster of 'Ten Commandments' Judge
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