May 2004 Church & State | AU Bulletin

Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is seeking congressional help to overturn federal court decisions that ban government-sponsored display of the Ten Commandments and other official acknowledgments of religion.

On his website (, Moore brags that he has drafted the "MOST IMPORTANT legislation of our lifetime." Several members of Congress are now advocating passage of the bill.

The "Constitution Restoration Act," H.R. 3799 in the House and S. 2082 in the Senate, would amend U.S. law to strip the U.S. Supreme Court's power to hear cases involving government "acknowledgement of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government." The measure, which would apply to both past and future cases, also forbids lower federal courts from hearing such disputes.

In the short run, the bill would nullify a decision of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that ordered Moore to remove his Commandments monument from the rotunda of Alabama's Judicial Building. It would also make it impossible for future challenges to be brought.

The Senate version was introduced by Sens. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Zell Miller (D-Ga.), Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Wayne Allard (R-Colo.). The House version was introduced by Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.) and Mike Pence (R-Ind.).

Miller took to the Senate floor Feb. 12 to announce his support of the Moore bill. Miller, besides lambasting pop culture, said he stood "shoulder to shoulder" with his colleagues and Moore in bemoaning "the terribly wrong direction our modern judiciary has taken us in." Specifically, Miller complained that the courts have erroneously suggested that the First Amendment calls for the separation of church and state.

As Church & State went to print, Moore's bill was pending in the judiciary committees of both chambers. There were also at least three other bills, one in the Senate, two in the House, that seek to limit the authority of federal courts to decide cases involving religion and government.