August 23, 2003
Lex Rex or Judge Rex?
American colonies broke free from England, the demand was for "Lex Rex," the
rule of law, to replace the rule by a king.However, in Alabama this week, a
judge named Roy Moore has decided to place himself above the law that he
does not agree with. It is one thing when criminals ignore the law, but the
Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court?
surprise of fellow judges, Justice Moore placed a two and a half ton granite
monument inscribed with the Ten Commandments in the lobby of the Alabama
Supreme Court one night. It was privately funded by people who agree with
Justice Moore that the moral foundation of the state's law rests upon the
Ten Commandments given to Moses by God.
Judge Moore made his reputation as a lower court judge by hanging the Ten
Commandments in his courtroom. And he was elected to Alabama's Supreme Court
pledging to bring the moral weight of Judeo-Christian ethics into that
court. He has wide popular support.
the ACLU objected, arguing that Justice Moore's action violated separation
of church and state, and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution's
prohibition of government "establishing religion." ACLU won its suit in the
11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, a step down from the Supreme Court.
was ordered by the 11th Circuit to remove the monument by Wednesday. He
refused to do so. As a consequence, Alabama must pay a fine of $5,000 a day
which will soon grow to $10,000 a day. The judge will not pay the fine, but
Alabama taxpayers at a time the state is struggling with a $600 million
"I think his
display of the Ten Commandments paid with private funds in the public lobby
in the court to which he was elected is within his right of expressing his
religious convictions," says Dr. Richard Land, Director of the Southern
Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. "The 11th Circuit Court of
Appeals is wrong on the issue.
am troubled, deeply troubled by a judge defying the law. What we have here
is a case of a judge disobeying a law with which he disagrees. It is
startling that so many conservatives are supporting a judge who openly
defies the law."
There can be no doubt that American law can be traced back to the Ten
a researcher of the Judeo-Christian history of the United States, notes
examples of an explicit connection between the Ten Commandments and founding
documents of this nation:
1. Noah Webster, one of the authors of
the U.S. Constitution, explained two centuries ago: "The duties of men are
summarily comprised in the Ten Commandments, consisting of two tables: one
comprehending the duties which we owe immediately to God - the other, the
duties we owe to our fellow men.".
2. The Rhode Island government of 1638
adopted "all those perfect most absolute laws of His, given in His holy word
of truth, to be guided thereby. Exod.. 24. 3, 4; 2 Chron. II. 3; 2 Kings.
II. 17." The Ten Commandments are in those Scriptures.
3. In 1672, Connecticut established
"wholesome laws for the regulating of each body politic...in obedience unto
Jehovah the Great Lawgiver, Who hath been pleased to set down a Divine
platform not only of the moral but also of judicial laws suitable for the
people of Israel; as...laws and constitutions suiting our State." Virginia
Armstrong of the Eagle Forum, a defender of Justice Moore, argues that there
is no "law" involved in this case. "A `law' by definition commands,
prohibits or permits a specific action. Chief Justice Moore's installation
of the monument does not command, prohibit or permit any action by any
She adds that
the Ten Commandments "are supported by a variety of large, influential
groups - evangelical Protestants, conservative Catholics, orthodox Jews and
Mormons. If the Ten Commandments per se constitute a `religion,' which of
these `religions' is `established?'"
this nation, the law is always interpreted or defined by the courts. Justice
Moore had the right to appeal his case. He should have asked the 11th
Circuit for a "stay" or delay in enforcing its decision of June 1, so that
he could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
failed to file the stay, and two days before he had to remove the monument,
asked the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay. That was denied Wednesday.
A judge must obey the law, not defy