IFAS | Freedom Writer | Winter 2001 | judge.html

Ten Commandments judge sworn in

On January 16th, Judge Roy Moore was installed as the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court after winning the seat in the November election. Moore is noted for opening his courtroom with prayers from visiting ministers and posting the Ten Commandments on the wall behind his bench.

Moore has said that his studies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison convinced him that the United States is a Christian nation founded upon Christian principles. "They did not say it's a Christian nation by establishment. In other words, you do not have to worship God as a Christian, but that did not mean that our principles, our foundation, our business organizations, our fraternal organizations, were not founded by Christian principles and that Christian principles did not govern the laws of our land."

Observers noted that Moore's victory indicates that the voters in Alabama "are simply fed up with the breadth of the separation between church and state."

Now Moore's backers are pushing for a state constitutional amendment allowing the Ten Commandments to be displayed in public schools and government buildings.

Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, a Democrat, supports the effort to post the Ten Commandments. "I certainly support the display of the Ten Commandments," he said. "By the time they see them in the courtroom, it's generally too late. I think we ought to display them in the classroom as well. But I support the people's right to make that determination through a constitutional amendment, certainly."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama has been combating Judge Moore since 1995, when they sued him for his prayers in court and display of the Ten Commandments. A federal judge dismissed the suit.

Jeanne Locicero of the Alabama ACLU said that it "would not support placing the Ten Commandments on public property, because it violates a constitutional principle."

In a speech after he was sworn in as the head of Alabama's highest court, Judge Moore reiterated his position that the United States is a Christian nation. "Today, we find many in the legal profession who don't understand the Constitution, who think God has no role in the Constitution. That couldn't be further from the truth."

Some in the audience shouted, "Amen!"

© 2001 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.