Nov 13, 2003

Americans United for Separation of Church and State welcomed today's unanimous vote by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary to remove state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, saying Moore's actions left the panel with no other choice.

"Moore flagrantly announced his intention to violate a federal court order, made a mockery of the legal system and created an unseemly media circus," said Lynn. "Today, he learned the results of that defiance. The Court of the Judiciary has served the cause of justice."

Moore attracted national attention this summer when he defied a federal court and refused to remove a two-and-a-half-ton Ten Commandments monument he placed in the rotunda of the Judicial Building. State officials later intervened and removed the sculpture, and Moore was suspended from the state high court under charges of violating judicial standards.

During a trial yesterday, Moore's attorneys insisted that he had a legal right to ignore the federal court order. Questioned by the Court, Moore admitted he has plans for the monument, which is currently locked in a closet at the Judicial Building, although he did not say what he plans to do with it.

"It wouldn't stay in the closet," Moore said. "I haven't decided what I would do with it."

Americans United helped sponsor the litigation against Moore to remove the religious symbol from the courthouse. Representing local plaintiffs, AU, the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama and the Southern Poverty Law Center won two federal court rulings requiring Moore to remove the monument.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 3 rejected a final appeal in Moore's case.

Lynn said the Court of the Judiciary had an obligation to send a message that Moore is not above the law. The Court did just that, finding that Moore "did willfully and publicly defy a court order directed to him."

"This case was a no-brainer," remarked Lynn. "Moore's refusal to abide by the rule of law made it clear that he is not fit to sit on a court anywhere in this country. The Court's vote was a courageous act that should be hailed by everyone who understands the importance of the rule of law in America."

Lynn vowed that further attempts by Moore to violate the separation of church and state will not be tolerated. Should the Ten Commandments monument reappear on public display at the Judicial Building or other government facilities, Lynn said, Americans United will respond quickly.

"We beat Moore in court two times," said Lynn. "We will not hesitate to do so again if he persists in violating the Constitution."

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.