Nov 12, 2003

Alabama's Court of the Judiciary convenes today to decide the fate of state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Moore is on trial for defying a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from display in the state Judicial Building earlier this year. Moore, who arranged to have the two-and-half-ton sculpture placed in the rotunda of the Montgomery, Ala., building, insisted that the court order requiring its removal was illegal.

State officials stepped in and had the monument removed; Moore was subsequently suspended from office.

"This is an open-and-shut case," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which helped bring the legal challenge against Moore's display. "Facing a federal court order to remove the Ten Commandments, Roy Moore publicly announced that he would not do so. His guilt is not in dispute."

Moore's attorneys have told the Court of Judiciary that Moore was required to defy the federal court order because it was illegal. Lynn called that position "remarkably wrongheaded."

Commented Lynn, "Is it nothing short of amazing that this late in the day Moore's attorneys continue to make off-the-wall, long-discredited arguments challenging the authority of the federal courts. Their position is wholly without merit and should be rejected out of hand.

"The Court of the Judiciary should vote to remove Moore from the Alabama Supreme Court," said Lynn. "Leadership of the state high court must rest in the hands of someone who is willing to uphold the rule of law."

Moore's trial is expected to last one or two days. A decision is expected within 10 days.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.