Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore declared yesterday that he would disobey a federal order and leave in place a 2.5-ton monument of the Ten Commandments in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building. Federal District Judge Myron Thompson ordered Moore to remove the monument after both he and a Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled that the monument violated the constitutional separation of church and state. Judge Thompson gave Moore a deadline of Aug. 20 to remove the monument, after which a $5,000 fine would be imposed on the state of Alabama each day, according to the Associated Press. Moore plans to appeal the decision to the US Supreme Court. “It’s a sad day when a judicial officer says that he’s not going to comply with a court order. It’s pretty bizarre,” Richard Cohen, general counsel of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is involved in the lawsuit, told the Los Angeles Times.
A rally in support of Moore this weekend will feature Rev. Jerry Falwell, whose remarks blaming September 11th on feminists, homosexuals, and atheists caused public outrage. Moore is also supported by Alabama Attorney General William Pryor, currently a nominee to serve as a judge on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. His nomination by President Bush is being blocked by a Democratic filibuster in the Senate because of Pryor’s far-right, extremist views on religion, women’s rights, lesbian and gay rights, and reproductive rights.
The situation is complicated by a measure tacked on to the Commerce, State, and Justice spending bill that would bar federal funds from being used to remove the monument from Alabama’s judicial building. The spending bill, including this amendment, added by Rep. John Hostettler (R-IN), has already cleared the House but has not yet passed the Senate. Congress is in recess during the month of August.