Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Roy Stuart Moore (born February 11, 1947) "Ten Commandments" judge who, on 14 November 2003, was removed from his post as Chief Justice of Alabama by a unanimous decision of the nine member state Court of the Judiciary. The Court found that he had "willfully and publicly" flouted a court order to remove a monument from the rotunda of the state judicial building, placing himself in contempt of the federal court which had ordered the removal, thereby also breaking his oath of office.
Moore is a controversial figure in Alabama; highly regarded and supported by conservative Christians for his stance but viewed by moderates as someone seeking media attention for personal and political gain.
Early judicial career
He was elected Circuit Judge, Place Number One of the (Alabama) Sixteenth Judicial Circuit in Gadsden, Alabama, in 1992.
As Circuit Judge, Moore was sued by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in 1995 for displaying a copy of the Ten Commandments in his court, and for opening court sessions with prayer. In at least one instance, Judge Moore asked a clergyman to lead the court's jury pool in prayer.
Leveraging the controversy, Moore ran for the elected post of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama on a campaign based on "restoring the moral foundation of law". He was elected Chief Justice in November 2000. Alabama has one of the larger Christian majorities in the United States.
In the middle of the night of July 31, 2001, Moore installed a 5,300-pound granite monument to the Ten Commandments in the central rotunda of the Alabama state judicial building. The event was recorded and proceeds from the sale of the videotape were used to raise money for a charity he supported.
On Tuesday 30 October 2001, the ACLU of Alabama, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and Southern Poverty Law Center were among groups which filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, asking that the monument be removed because it "sends a message to all who enter the State Judicial Building that the government encourages and endorses the practice of religion in general and Judeo-Christianity in particular". Evidence included testimony that lawyers of different religious beliefs had changed their work practices, including routinely avoiding visiting the court building to avoid passing by the monument, and testimony that the monument created a religious atmosphere which caused many people of religions honoring the Ten Commandments to use the area as a place for prayer.
Moore argued that removing the monument would cause him to violate his oath of office, because, Moore claimed, the 10 Commandments are the moral basis of U.S. law.
Judgement and appeal
Federal U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ruled the monument an unconstitutional endorsement of religion by the government. The case was appealed to the Eleventh Circuit, the decision (PDF) of which, in part, reads:
The Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court installed a two and one half-ton monument to the Ten Commandments as the centerpiece of the rotunda in the Alabama State Judicial Building. He did so in order to remind all Alabama citizens of, among other things, his belief in the sovereignty of the Judeo-Christian God over both the state and the church. And he rejected a request to permit a monument displaying a historically significant speech in the same space on the grounds that "[t]he placement of a speech of any man alongside the revealed law of God would tend in consequence to diminish the very purpose of the Ten Commandments monument."
After taking office he hung a hand-carved, wooden plaque depicting the Ten Commandments behind the bench in his courtroom and routinely invited clergy to lead prayer at jury organizing sessions.…
Every fourth grader in the state is brought on a tour of the building as part of a field trip to the state capital. No one who enters the building through the main entrance can miss the monument. It is in the rotunda, directly across from the main entrance, in front of a plate-glass window with a courtyard and waterfall behind it. After entering the building, members of the public must pass through the rotunda to access the public elevator or stairs, to enter the law library, or to use the public restrooms.
Moore answered yes to these questions:
- [W]as your purpose in putting the Ten Commandments monument in the Supreme Court rotunda to acknowledge GOD’s law and GOD’s sovereignty?
- Do you agree that the monument, the Ten Commandments monument, reflects the sovereignty of GOD over the affairs of men?
- And the monument is also intended to acknowledge GOD’s overruling power over the affairs of men, would that be correct?
- [W]hen you say “GOD” you mean GOD of the Holy Scripture?
Moore has also said "there is no morality without God" while on Sean Hannity's talk show
The Appeals Court upheld the earlier decision and returned the matter to the lower court for enforcement, which was initiated with a court order requiring that the monument to be removed.
Moore refused to remove the monument and allowed the time limit for removal to expire. The state of Alabama faced fines of $5,000 a day, and he was unanimously overruled by the eight other members of the Alabama Supreme Court, who had the monument removed within an extended time limit provided for that purpose. Because of the monument's weight, worries that it might break through the floor if taken outside intact and a desire to avoid unnecessary confrontation with protesters outside the building, the monument was put into storage inside. Moore was then suspended as Chief Justice (with full pay) pending a hearing of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. The Court of the Judiciary is a panel of judges, lawyers and others appointed variously by judges, legal leaders, the governor and the lieutenant governor.
On November 3, 2003 the United States Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal against the court order to remove the monument.
On Thursday November 13, 2003, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary unanimously removed an unrepentant Moore from the office of Chief Justice because, according to Court of the Judiciary Presiding Judge William Thompson, "[t]he chief justice placed himself above the law."
In closing arguments, the Assistant Attorney General said Moore's defiance, left unchecked, "undercuts the entire workings of the judicial system" and "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 was brought up as a possible candidate for the United States Constitution Party in the 2004 presidential election, but did not pursue their nomination. It is believed he may hold other future political aspirations.
Monuments to Moore
Moore's defense of his Ten Commandments monument has inspired an unusual roadside monument to Moore. Located along busy U.S. Highway 80 outside of Selma, Alabama, Moore-supporter Leonard Turner has installed a retired school bus completely covered on all sides with hand-painted slogans praising Moore and endorsing his candidacy for Governor of Alabama. (Various other conservative political causes are also praised on the same bus.) The bus is illuminated by spotlights at night.
- Foundation For Moral Law - Ten Commandments Monument & Chief Justice Roy Moore
- Man of the Year: Roy Moore by Ann Coulter
- Roy Moore says Supreme Court Cases Don't Address God
- Statement by Chief Justice Moore Prepared by Lead Counsel, Steve Melchior
Anti-Roy Moore Links
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