NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Jay Sekulow voiced a second opinion Aug. 15 questioning the legal strategy of Judge Roy Moore and his legal team in defense of Moore’s Ten Commandments display in the Alabama judicial building in Montgomery.
Sekulow, founder of the American Center for Law and Justice who has argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court in behalf of religious liberty, voiced wariness of the showdown between Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, and the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Sekulow, on his Aug. 15 syndicated radio broadcast, voiced doubt, “legally speaking, that Judge Moore is correct here, legally speaking.”
“… I support the display of the Ten Commandments — I think it is the Western foundation of law [and] clearly displayed at the Supreme Court building of the United States,” Sekulow said before noting that Moore and his legal team have taken an unorthodox legal stance “that is going to require a constitutional showdown in Alabama.”
The federal appeals court issued a ruling July 1 unanimously backing a federal district judge’s ruling against the 5,280-pound granite monument of the Ten Commandments and other historical documents placed in the judicial building by Moore’s orders in 2001.
The district court judge then issued a deadline of Aug. 20 for the display’s removal, with the force of escalating fines should Moore not comply.
In an Aug. 14 news conference, Moore stood firm that he will not have the monument removed.
Two additional avenues of appeal “should have gone forward,” Sekulow said on his national broadcast.
First, there should have been a request for a rehearing involving the entire 11th Circuit of Appeals of the July 1 ruling issued by a panel of several of its members. That rehearing process, Sekulow said, would have “taken a number of months.”
Second, if Moore lost the appeal, he then could have appealed to the Supreme Court.
“What’s happened here,” Sekulow said, “is that Judge Moore and his lawyers have decided to not take the usual route … but rather [are] going for a review directly to the Supreme Court of the United States.
“And they did not ask for a stay of the order pending appeal, which would have allowed the Ten Commandments monument to stay. Normally, these stays are given pretty routinely,” Sekulow said.
It now “puts the state of Alabama in a very difficult position,” he said, “because they are technically and legally violating a duly authorized federal court order from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals that they did not ask to be stayed. [It] puts this situation very much in flux and in a very serious constitutional position.
“Personally, if I was arguing the case,” Sekulow said, “I would have asked for the stay, because, going to the Supreme Court of the United States, you want to have everything in a stated process, but that is not what his lawyers have decided here.”
A nationally publicized rally is scheduled Aug. 16 in Montgomery in support of Moore and the Ten Commandments display. Two nationally known conservatives, Alan Keyes and Jerry Falwell, will be the featured speakers.
Moore, in his Aug. 14 news conference, stated, “I have no intention of removing the monument of the Ten Commandments and the moral foundation of our law. To do so would in effect be a disestablishment of the justice system of this state. This I cannot and will not do.”
Moore said 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.”
Moore also 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.”
Michael Foust contributed to this article.