11/03/2003

Supreme Court Rejects Moore's Appeal in Ten Commandments Case

Center attorneys today called on Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore to resign from office after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to overturn a lower court's decision that his placement of a Ten Commandments monument in the rotunda of the state's judicial building was unconstitutional.

The Chief Justice shocked the state in August 2001 when he installed the 5,280-pound monument without consulting his fellow justices. Under the cover of night, he secretly hauled the granite sculpture into the building that houses Alabama's appellate courts and the state law library. A video team from the Florida-based Coral Ridge Ministries, which raised money for Judge Moore's defense in the case, was on hand to film the occasion.

Center attorneys brought the case against Moore (see Glassroth v. Moore), along with the ACLU and Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, on behalf of three Alabama attorneys who felt the monument expressed state-sanctioned intolerance of religious beliefs different from those of the Chief Justice.

In July, a federal appeals court upheld U.S. Judge Myron Thompson's ruling that the placement of the monument was an "extreme case" that "create[d] a religious sanctuary within the walls of a courthouse."

Moore defied the court's order and refused to remove the monument, drawing a crowd of supporters, including many far-right extremists, to the judicial building. The monument has since been moved from public view and Moore has been suspended from his position as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court for his unlawful defiance of a federal court.

He will go on trial in front of the Court of the Judiciary on November 12 to determine whether he can continue in his capacity as the head of the state's highest court.

"Justice Moore staked his reputation on the Supreme Court taking his case. Now that the court has turned him down, there is only one honorable thing left for him to do — resign. He's a disgrace to the bench," said Center president Richard Cohen.