Glassroth v. Moore

Last modified 2011.09.15

  • Status Closed
  • Type Counsel
  • Court U.S. Court of Appeals, U.S. District Court
  • Issues Religious Displays, Religious Minorities

The Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore, placed a 5,300 pound granite monument to the Ten Commandments in the rotunda of the State Judicial Building. We filed suit, along with the Alabama ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center, in October 2001, seeking removal of the monument.

We conducted substantial discovery, including the deposition of Chief Justice Moore, and then tried the case from October 15-23, 2002. On November 18, 2002, the Court found the monument unconstitutional and, thereafter, ordered its removal but stayed the injunction.

Moore appealed and, on June 4, 2003, AU’s Legal Director Ayesha Khan presented oral argument to a panel of the Eleventh Circuit on behalf of the plaintiffs. On July 1, 2003, the panel unanimously ruled that the monument reflected a religious purpose and effect.

The trial judge then reissued an injunction ordering the monument’s removal but Moore announced his intent to defy it. The remaining Alabama Supreme Court Justices, however, issued an order directing compliance with the federal court order. Moore engaged in a variety of legal shenanigans in an effort to keep the monument in place but the monument was moved on August 27, 2003.

Moore filed a second appeal from the new injunction in early September 2003 (which we moved to dismiss), and also filed a petition for certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court on September 29, 2003 (on which we waived opposition).

In early November 2003, the Eleventh Circuit dismissed the second appeal, and the Supreme Court opted not to hear Moore’s case. In mid-November 2003, a state judicial ethics panel removed Moore from office because of his defiance. Moore appealed that decision but lost in a unanimous decision before the Alabama Supreme Court and then the U.S. Supreme Court denied review in early October 2004.

In the meantime, a new Chief Justice was substituted as the defendant in our case, and we reached a settlement with his counsel on the plaintiffs’ motion for attorneys’ fees.

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