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Monday, August 25, 2003  

Incorrigible Alabama judge is neo-Confederate hero

The chief judge of the Supreme Court of Alabama has been suspended after he refused to remove the monument to the Ten Commandments he had installed in the foyer of the building where the Court is housed.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) - Alabama's chief justice was suspended for disobeying a federal court's order that he remove a Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the state judicial building. Yet, Saturday, the massive granite marker remained in place and there were no signs it would soon be moved.

Chief Justice Roy Moore, who installed the 5,300-pound monument two years ago, was suspended with pay Friday when the nine-member Judicial Inquiry Commission referred an ethics complaint against him to the Court of the Judiciary, which can discipline and remove judges.

Moore had no immediate comment after the decision. His spokesman, Tom Parker, said his attorneys would respond to the complaint Monday.

Most followers of the news are aware of the chronology of this situation. Moore pandered to fundamentalist Christians to forward his career. His most notorious acts were installing the Ten Commandments in both the courtroom of the low level judgeship he held previously and in the Alabama high court after he was elected to it and became chief justice. The legal conflict occurred because installing the monument to religious mandates obviously violates the Constitution's ban on governmental promotion of a religion.

However, there is a subtext many readers may not be aware of that I've learned about from neo-Confederate sites. The federal judge who Moore has tried to provoke, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson , is African-American. That fact appears to have played a role in Moore's successful positioning of himself as a victim of political correctness and provides a look into the minds of his followers. Neo-Confederates assert that only white, Christian, property-owning males should be allowed to vote and hold authoritative positions in society. From their perspective, Thompson is ineligible to be a judge. Therefore, any ruling he makes is illegitimate.

The largest of the neo-Confederate groups, the League of the South, and its allies, would like to impose a theocratic government in the region. It would consist of Southern states which have seceded and be run by leaders of the neo-Confederate movement. The new government would support racism, gender discrimination and opposition to other religions.

Moore met with the [judicial] commission on Friday as about 100 of his supporters at the federal courthouse ripped and burned a copy of U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson's order for the monument's removal.

He said he told the commission he upheld his oath of office by acknowledging God. He has said Thompson had no authority to tell the state's chief justice to remove the monument.

. . .Thompson ruled last year that the monument's placement in the public rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building violated the Constitution's ban on government promotion of a religious doctrine.

He ordered the monument removed by Wednesday - the same day the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Moore's appeal for an emergency stay.

I don't know whether Moore is a member of the LOS, the Sons of Confederate Veterans or the Council of Conservative Citizens. However, Moore has spoken at a C of CC event on at least one occassion. He has become quite a hero in the eyes of the neo-Confederate movement. He is perceived as one of a vanguard of 'correct' leaders who must be supported if the movement's goals are to achieved. If, as is likely, he loses his battle to impose the Ten Commandments on the people of Alabama, he will become a martyr to the Cause to neo-Confederates.

A newsletter from the North Carolina LOS expresses the prevailing view.

It is important for every true patriot in this country to show their support for Judge Moore. We should all be writing letters to the editors of papers here and in Alabama.

We also need to contact groups that are raising money for the Judge's defense fund and donate, not just once, but every month until this case comes to an end.

But most importantly, we need to pray that God would protect this man and send America more like him.

We need true patriots, men who know what this country was founded on and are not afraid to defend what their ancestors gave them.

Not only is Confederate culture under attack, but increasingly America's Christian and Colonial heritage is being targeted by those in power as being too devisive [sic] to be tolerated anymore.

In the pleadings for the case, Moore has requested Thompson's removal without being explicit about why he wants him removed.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore accused a federal judge of bias in early October and asked him to step away from a lawsuit to remove the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Judicial Building.?

In an affidavit, Moore said that U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson "has a pervasive and personal bias and prejudice against me in favor of plaintiffs, that Judge Thompson's impartiality might reasonably be questioned, and that there exists an appearance of impropriety in these cases, warranting Judge Thompson's recusal."

Perhaps in private, Moore makes himself clear to the conservative Southern white people who are his main supporters.

Another thorn in the side of the neo-Confederates is that their archenemy, The Southern Poverty Law Center is a plaintiff in the case against Moore. The SPLC is the most prominent civil rights monitoring group in the country and known for winning judgments against racist activists, including the Aryan Nations and the Ku Klux Klan, groups that some neo-Confederate leaders have been affiliated with. They passionately hate the Center.

"The law is clear, and the evidence in this case was overwhelming," said Center chief trial counsel Morris Dees, who headed the Center's legal team in the case. "Chief Justice Moore clearly crossed the constitutional line that separates church and state. By hauling the monument into the judicial building, he intended to impose his own brand of Christianity on the state. This he cannot do."

The case was an important one for the Center. "We believe that Chief Justice Moore's conduct threatens the very values of tolerance and justice that form the core of the Center's mission," Dees said.

The main focus of sympathy for Moore is his support for establishing Christianity as the official religion of America. But, we must ask ourselves why would people want to do that. The answer, in a nutshell, is to turn by the clock. The neo-Confederates believe religion can be a weapon in their war to reestablish a more inequitable society.

1:34 PM