MONTGOMERY, Ala. (BP)–Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has 30 days to remove a 5,300-pound granite monument of the Ten Commandments from the rotunda of the state judicial building, after a federal judge ruled the monument violates the constitution’s ban on government promotion of religion.
In a ruling handed down Nov. 18, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson said he does not believe all Ten Commandments displays in government buildings are illegal, but that the monument in the judicial building crosses the line “between the permissible and the impermissible.”
The monument features the King James Bible version of the Ten Commandments sitting on top of a granite block. Around the monument are quotes from historical figures and documents, such as the Declaration of Independence, but critics contend the commandments dominate.
Moore installed the monument after the building closed on the night of July 31, 2001, without telling any other justices. But he did tell Florida television evangelist D. James Kennedy, who had a crew from his Coral Ridge Ministries film the installation and offered videotapes of it for a donation of $19. Moore has appeared numerous times on Kennedy’s nationally syndicated religious television show.
Moore testified during the trial that the commandments are the moral foundation of American law. He said the monument acknowledges God, but does not force anyone to follow his religious beliefs.
Moore is a Baptist layman who came into the national spotlight for fighting to display the Ten Commandments in a county courthouse. He was elected Alabama chief justice in 2000.
Thompson, in his 96-page ruling, agreed with Moore’s contention that the Ten Commandments are an important source of American law, but he disagreed with the way the chief justice went about recognizing that source.
Moore’s attorneys have said in the past that they would appeal such a ruling.