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September 6, 2003
Column #1,149

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. Supreme Court.

     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 Below is a quote from George Mason: "The laws of nature are the laws of God whose authority can be superseded by no power on earth."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 higher law."

     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 disagree."

     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."

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