November 2018 Church & State | People & Events

Controversial “Ten Commandments” judge and failed U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore has resurfaced, this time offering unsolicited advice to Alabama public schools about prayer before football games.

Moore, who was defeated for a U.S. Senate seat by Democrat Doug Jones in a special election last year after allegations surfaced that Moore had sexually assaulted a teenage girl and harassed others in the 1980s, recently released a letter purporting to advise school officials on the law regarding school prayer.

The letter was issued under the auspices of a group Moore’s wife supposedly runs called the Foundation for Moral Law. The foundation has a shady reputation. During his Senate campaign, it was reported that the foundation was paying Moore a hefty salary for part-time work.

“Nobody stands up for the students of this state and we’re going to do that,” Moore vowed during a September press conference. He announced that the foundation was sending memos to all Alabama school districts advising the superintendents on ways they can supposedly allow prayers before games.

Americans United said Moore’s legal analysis is flawed. The group pointed out that the U.S. Supreme Court addressed this issue in 2000 in a case called Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe. The high court ruled that a public school’s practice of broadcasting prayers over a loudspeaker prior to games was coercive and put a stop to it.

AU also noted that Moore is not to be trusted when it comes to interpreting constitutional law. After Americans United and its allies successfully sued him over a Ten Commandments display at a judicial building in Montgomery in 2001, Moore defied the federal court’s order to remove the monument. The incident led to the removal of Moore, who was then chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, from the bench.

Alabama voters returned Moore to the Alabama high court in 2012; but three years later, after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld marriage equality, Moore again engaged in judicial defiance. This time he ordered probate judges in the state not to recognize the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling. This stunt led to Moore’s second removal from the court.

AU Senior Adviser Rob Boston wrote in a “Wall of Separation” blog post, “Here’s a little suggestion for school superintendents in Alabama: You know that letter you just got from Roy Moore? Turn it into a paper airplane, recycle it, use it to line a birdcage, etc. Do anything but listen to it.”