September 6, 2003
Judge Moore's Cause Right; Tactics Wrong
I pray that the Ten Commandments
Monument will be restored to the rotunda of Alabama's Supreme Court. I hope
that Alabama's now deposed Chief Justice Roy Moore wins his case in the U.S.
However, Moore's tactics have
harmed his case, and may bring it to defeat. He should have asked the 11th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay, an order allowing the monument to
remain in the rotunda while he appealed to the Supreme Court. Had he done
so, it would be there today, and his case for appeal, even stronger.
Instead he broke the law by
refusing the 11th Circuit's order to remove it. All eight of his fellow
justices voted to overrule their boss, and suspended him from office. The
Supreme Court could legitimately refuse to hear the case of a deposed
justice who defied a court rule.
Moore brilliantly designed the
monument to depict what he called "the moral foundation of law," reflecting
"the sovereignty of God over the affairs of men." The 5,280 pound granite is
carved to look like an open Bible, with the Ten Commandments on top.
Less publicized are the words
carved into the monument's four sides. A large quotation is at the top of
the front panel: "LAWS OF NATURE AND NATURE'S GOD - Declaration of
Independence." Below is a quote from George Mason: "The laws of nature are
the laws of God whose authority can be superseded by no power on earth."
"IN GOD WE TRUST National Motto" is
on the right. Below is a quote from Alabama's Constitution in which the
people of Alabama invoke "the favor and guidance of almighty God." as they
form a government.
"SO HELP ME GOD" at the back is
followed by Washington's Farewell Address; "Let it simply be asked, where is
the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of
religious obligation deserts the oaths which are the instruments of
investigation in the courts of justice?"
"ONE NATION UNDER GOD...- Pledge of
Allegiance" passed by Congress in 1954 is on the left. Thomas Jefferson is
quoted: "And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have
removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that
these liberties are the gift of God?"
Americans need to be reminded of
the republic's founding truths. I, for one, would contribute to a campaign
to put a similar monument prominently displayed in every state capital.
Focus on the Family Chairman James Dobson flew to Montgomery to address
1,000 supporters of Judge Moore: "This struggle that we're involved in is
not really about the Ten
Commandments...It is primarily a battle against judicial tyranny...The
liberal elite and the judges at the highest level are determined to remove
every evidence of faith in God from the entire culture."
Tony Perkins, the new President of
the Family Research Council, also spoke there: "We must first take the jack
hammer away from the federal courts. We must demand that Congress act now by
limiting the federal judiciary's authority on such issues as prayer in
schools, partial-birth abortion, marriage and the Ten Commandments."
I agree, but not with Dobson's
support of disobedience: "There are times when you have to respond to a
Richard Land, President of Southern
Baptists' Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, argues, "We are a nation of
laws, not of men. If we disagree with a judicial interpretation of the
law...then we must change the judges and, if necessary, change the law."
Of course, that is what President
Bush has been trying to do, by nominating men such as Alabama's Attorney
General Bill Pryor, who, ironically was named to a seat on the very 11th
Circuit ruling on Moore's case. His nomination has been filibustered by
Senate Democrats. Pryor would have supported Moore, but he said, "As
Attorney General, I have a duty to obey all orders of courts even when I
Land asserted, "Think back to the
middle of December, 2000 when the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, said a
state does not have the right to count votes differently in different
counties. Bush argued it is a violation of the 14th Amendment which
guarantees equal protection under the law."
"What if Florida' s Supreme Court
had said, "We will not accept the decision. We will continue to count
votes." We would have had an constitutional crisis.
Instead we had an orderly
transition, because there is widespread common commitment to the rule of
law, even when we disagree."