MONTGOMERY, Ala. (BP)–Eight Alabama Supreme Court justices unanimously overruled Chief Justice Roy Moore Aug. 21 and ordered the Ten Commandments monument removed from the state’s judicial building.
The court’s action came one day after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to put a stay on a federal court order instructing Moore to remove the monument.
The justices issued an order directing the manager of the building “to take all steps necessary to comply with the injunction as soon as practicable.”
All eight justices signed the order. Unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, Alabama’s Supreme Court justices — all nine of them — are elected, not appointed.
Two weeks ago federal district Judge Myron Thompson ordered the monument to be removed by Aug. 20. He had threatened fines of around $5,000 a day if it remained and said the amount could double each week.
Moore, in an afternoon appearance at the judicial building, said he was “very disappointed” with his colleagues’ action but that the “fight to defend our constitutional rights to acknowledge God must and will continue.”
Moore said that “very soon” he and his lawyers would file a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court “to resolve clearly our inalienable rights to acknowledge God under the First Amendment.”
Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor, in a prepared statement, said that while he believes the monument is constitutional, the justices’ action was necessary.
“Today is a day to be proud of the eight associate justices of the Supreme Court of Alabama,” he said. “They have been faithful to the rule of law. There has been a lot of talk about the rule of law in recent days. The rule of law means that no person, including the Chief Justice of Alabama, is above the law. “The rule of law means that when courts resolve disputes, after all appeals and arguments, we all must obey the orders of those courts even when we disagree with those orders. The rule of law means that we can work to change the law but not to defy court orders.”
Perhaps answering Pryor and others, Moore said that “if the rule of law means to do everything a judge tells you to do, we would still have slavery in this country.”
Pryor was quoted in the Montgomery Advertiser as saying the “fines could have exceeded $1 billion within just four months.” He said the state’s taxpayers should not be penalized for Moore’s refusal to obey the order.
But as of 3:30 p.m. Central time Aug. 21, the 5,300-pound monument, placed there at Moore’s direction two years ago, remained in the building. Several dozen peaceful demonstrators outside promised to block any removal attempt.
Some 20 protesters, including one woman in a wheelchair, were arrested Aug. 20 for refusing to leave the building when it was scheduled to close.
The deadline passed at midnight Aug. 20 with no action, although protesters in front of the judicial building continued to gather and pray. Around 6:30 a.m. Aug. 21 a partition was placed around the monument, although Moore, according to the Montgomery Advertiser, removed it about three hours later following an order.
After seeing the partition Moore released a statement, according to USA Today, reading, “This is an example of what is happening in this country: the acknowledgment of God as the moral foundation of law in this nation is being hidden from us.”
The night before, Moore appeared on FOX News’s “Hannity & Colmes” hours before the deadline passed, saying that removing the monument would require him to violate his oath of office.
“The point is it’s not about violation of [an] order, it’s about violation of my oath of office,” he said. “And my oath of office to the Constitution requires an acknowledgment of God. It’s that simple.”
Gary DeMar, president of American Vision and author of the new Broadman & Holman book “America’s Christian Heritage,” said he believes that the display of the monument is constitutional. America is replete with items acknowledging God, he noted.
“The justices get paid in money that says ‘In God We Trust,'” he said in a statement. “Then there’s the massive mural of Moses and the Ten Commandments in the State Supreme Court Building in Harrisburg, Pa. It has been there since 1927. Will the courts demand that it be whitewashed? Our own Supreme Court is in violation since there are a number of Ten Commandment displays in Washington.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: ORDERED REMOVED.