MONTGOMERY, Ala. (BP)–Facing a federal court order and an approaching deadline, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore said Aug. 14 he will not order the Ten Commandments display removed from the rotunda of the state’s judicial building and will appeal the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued an order Aug. 5 to have the 5,280-pound display removed by Aug. 20, but Moore said in the news conference that to do so would be equal to denying God. He said he would file an appeal with the Supreme Court to halt Thompson’s order.
“I have no intention of removing the monument of the Ten Commandments and the moral foundation of our law,” Moore said. “To do so would in effect be a disestablishment of the justice system of this state. This I cannot and will not do.”
Moore added that the “question is not whether I will move the monument. It is not a question of whether I will disobey or obey a court order.” Rather, he said, the “real question is whether or not I will deny the God that created us and endowed us with certain inalienable rights and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Giving a summary of his view of the relation between church and state, Moore said that “separation of church and state never was meant to separate God from our government. It was never meant to separate God from the law.”
Speaking about the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of religion, Moore said it is being “taken from us by federal courts who misuse the First Amendment as a sword to take away our rights instead of as a shield to preserve them for us.”
Moore insisted he is not breaking the law but rather upholding Alabama’s Constitution, which references God.
“I intend to uphold my oath to the Constitution of the United States as well as the constitution of the State of Alabama,” he said.
“I have maintained the rule of law. I have been true to the oath of my office. I can do no more, and I will do no less, so help me God,” he said to applause.
Moore faces fines if the monument is not removed. A rally in Montgomery is scheduled for Aug. 16 in support of Moore and the display.
Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said in a statement that Moore “clearly wants to create a media circus.”
“It’s time to shut down the performance,” Lynn said. “If Judge Moore can’t in good conscience comply with a lawful federal court order, he ought to resign. We will take whatever steps are necessary to see that the federal court order is enforced.”