The U.S. Supreme Court denied Monday to hear an appeal from former Alabama Justice Roy Moore over reclaiming his office after he was ousted last year for not obeying a federal order to have a Ten Commandments monument removed from the courthouse.
The justices rejected the appeal without comment, ending the three-year legal battle involving Moore, the Ten Commandments monument, and the question of whether the public display of religious monuments with historical value are protected under the First Amendment.
Moore justified the display of the 5,280-pound structure on grounds that it represents the Judeo-Christian foundation of U.S. law.
He said in a statement following the decision, "I have no regrets. I have kept my oath and my promise to the people of the state of Alabama.”
"I've obeyed the rule of law by not following the unlawful dictates of man."
Philip Jauregui, Moore’s attorney, said he was disappointed by the decision.
"To me it's the type of case they should have taken because it involved the removal of the highest elected officer of the Alabama judicial branch," he said.
In 2003, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson declared the Ten Commandments monument an unconstitutional government endorsement of religion and ordered it removed from the Alabama rotunda. Moore refused and was backed by hundreds of supporters who showed up to protest the monument’s removal.
However, Alabama Supreme Court justices voted to comply with Thompson’s orders to avoid threat of fines. Three months later, state Court of the Judiciary ousted Moore from his office.
Groups which sued to have the monument removed praised Monday’s ruling.
"Now, no court on this planet has ruled in Moore's favor," said the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "It is truly time for him to understand that he has lost."
If the nation’s High Court had accepted Moore's case and ruled in his favor, he could be reinstated into office. Now, only by running for reelection could Moore reclaim his position, something he has not yet decided to do, according to his spokeswoman Jessica Atteberry.