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Wednesday, August 27, 2003  

News and analysis:
Moore's legal loss may be political gain

It is out of sight, but not out of mind. The huge monument Judge Roy Moore had installed in the rotunda of the building where the Supreme Court of Alabama meets has been moved.

"Roy's Rock," the chunky Ten Commandments monument that became an icon of the battle over separation of church and state, rolled out of sight at the state Supreme Court building rotunda in Montgomery, Ala., this morning.

Demonstrators, who have camped on the courthouse steps for more than a week in hopes of stopping the removal, dropped to their knees in prayer after spotting a work crew gathering around the two-ton monument. Some pastors, who have led a demonstration that often resembled a round-the-clock religious revival, lay prostrate on the ground. Others held signs aloft praising Chief Justice Roy S. Moore, who moved the monument into the courthouse two years ago and last week defied a federal court order to remove it.

"I am angry and sad," said the Rev. Phil Fulton of the Pentecostal Union Hill Church in Peebles, Ohio. Fulton, who was on his knees praying outside the courthouse when the monument was removed, called today "one of the most of tragic days for America. I feel like our constitutional rights, our religious freedoms, are eroding away."

The monument was relocated in time to prevent the fines a federal district judge said would begin to accrue for violating his order on Friday. It is not clear where the heavy granite statuary was moved to.

As a great admirer of the civil rights movement, I have found the displays of support for Moore, which mimic the actions of civil rights demonstrators, rather surreal. It seems to me that these protesters are missing an important point: Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and other civil rights leaders, sought to expand the promises of our government in regard to individual rights. Their movement seeks to restrict those rights to Christians, and, if one follows the trail to the neo-Confederate movement, males, whites and the well-off. Any similarity between the two movements is superficial.

Meanwhile, another Alabama politician, seeing the incredible political mileage Moore has derived from his antics, is seeking his own Ten Commandments spotlight by introducing a bill in Congress to let states decide whether to display the commandments.

WASHINGTON, DC -- Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) today expressed disappointment with the removal of the Ten Commandments from the rotunda of Alabama's State Judicial complex in Montgomery, and repeated his call for legislation allowing states to decide whether the Ten Commandments can be displayed in public buildings.

. . ."This issue is about our national heritage, and the role that faith has historically played in the foundation of this nation," said Congressman Aderholt. "The legislation I've introduced addresses this very issue. Each state should have the right to display the Ten Commandments in a city hall, state house or state court building without the federal government interfering. If the State of Alabama wants to display the Ten Commandments, it should have that right - pure and simple.

. . .Congressman Aderholt believes that legislation such as his recently introduced Ten Commandments Defense Act is needed to clarify the issue.

The strategy Aderholt is attempting to use is called interposition. It is a claim that the states retain the right to make decisions impacting federally protected individual rights. The states rights are said to be derived from the U.S. Constitution, despite the Fourteenth Amendment, which clarified the role of federal government as dominant to most modern legal thinkers. Interposition was roundly rejected when used to try to prevent desegregation during the civil rights movement and will be in this context, as well.

However, failures for Moore and his cohort in the legal arena may lead to success in the political arena. Moore swiftly climbed from a minor judgeship to his present position at the top of the state's legacy hierarchy by pandering to Christian fundamentalists. It is possible he can ride that support to the governor's office or to Washington as a representative or senator. Some people believe that was his plan all along. A letter writer to a television station in Huntsville, Ala., explains his perception of Moore's career:

I support the removal of the monument and Justice Moore. As a resident of Alabama , and a practicing Christian, I believe and attempt to follow the teachings of the Ten Commandments. However, as an American citizen I hold the concept of "separation of church and state" as paramount in maintaining the freedoms and principles set forth in the Constitution of the United States. While I support the teachings of the monument in question, the idea of a State supported religious ideal frightens me. It is MY job, not that of elected officials, to instill religious values and beliefs in my children.

Justice Moore's blatant misuse of his office is even more disturbing when viewed as a calculated political move. Does anyone believe this ploy wasn't planned from day-1 as a step to the Governors office? And sadly, he will probably win by a landslide. He consciously trampled on the very ideals this country was founded upon to gain support from those individuals who put their personal views above the strength and future of the Country as a whole. As an American Citizen, I find this offensive. And as a Christian, I see the use the Lord's name for political gain as blasphemy and a direct violation of those Commandments he supposedly supports.



Another Alabaman, a Moore supporter, vehemently disagrees.

I think that judge morre is the best judge in our whole country, He stands on the truth that God gave us to live bye, when you don`t live by the ten commandments that is why there is so much killing and stealing, and other bad thing happens in our country. Having the ten commandments there does not mean you have to look at them are read them. But living them makes him abetter judge and better person so that he will be a fair judge to all people, and treat each person the same. I wish we had more honest judge and who lives by Gods laws keep up the good work Judge we will are behind you one hundred per cent. Our prays are with you and God is with you too.


My friend Russell says I am naive, though I consider myself cynical, because I have yet to accept that many, if not most, people are foolish. This is the kind of situation that makes me wonder if he is right. Though the focus of our attention is Judge Moore, he could not have climbed into his position without the votes of a lot of foolish people. That may be the core of this issue. The Moores of America, and the messes they create, would not exist but for a populace willing and eager to enable them.

1:59 PM