Alabama's Chief Judge Ordered to Remove Ten Commandments Monument from Courthouse

November 18, 2002

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MONTGOMERY, AL -- A monument to the Ten Commandments displayed on the grounds of the state judicial building here was ordered removed today by a federal district judge who said the display "crossed the line."

"The federal court today vindicated the religious freedom of all Alabama citizens, not just those who share the Chief Justice's views that a belief in a Christian God is the only real religion in Alabama," said Rob Weinberg, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, which along with other groups had challenged the display.

Following a seven-day trial, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson gave Chief Justice Roy Moore 30 days to remove the two-and-a-half ton monument to the Judeo-Christian text he had erected last year in the rotunda of the State Judicial Building. 

In a scholarly 79-page opinion, Judge Thompson rejected all of the Chief Justice's arguments that his monument to the Ten Commandments was a legally permissible display that merely acknowledged God.

The ACLU and its clients had argued that the Judicial Building -- which houses Alabama's three highest courts of appeal -- should be a place where profession of religious faith is not a prerequisite to seeking justice. 

Moore made no apologies when he testified at trial that his display was specifically meant as a monument to the Judeo-Christian God and not directed at a God of any other religions. 

The federal court held that Moore violated the Constitution when he "installed a two-and-a-half ton monument in the most prominent place in a government building, managed with dollars from all state taxpayers, with the specific purpose and effect of establishing a permanent recognition of the 'sovereignty of God,' the Judeo-Christian God, over all citizens in this country, regardless of each taxpaying citizen's individual personal beliefs or lack thereof. To this, the Establishment clause says no."

Two separate lawsuits, Glassroth v. Moore and Maddox et al. v. Moore, were filed on behalf of the three local attorneys by the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

The decision in the case is online at http://www.almd.uscourts.gov/Opinions/index_of_opinions.htm

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