Fifteen-Day Deadline Given to Remove Ten Commandments Monument

Moore to take case to Supreme Court
( [email protected] ) Aug 08, 2003 12:15 PM EDT

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A fifteen-day notice was given to Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore to remove the Ten Commandments display from the state judicial building, August 5.

Moore, having lost his case to keep the 5,280-pound display placed in the rotunda of the Alabama Judiciary before both the U.S. District Court and the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals says he will appeal his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Since last year, Thompson ruled that the monument, featuring the King James Bible version of the Ten Commandments, violates the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause. Thompson gave Moore an August 20 deadline for display’s removal; should Moore fail to do so, he will face a minimum $5,000 fine that could “perhaps double” each succeeding week the monument remains in the building.

It is the "obligation of the State of Alabama to remove" the monument,” Thompson said in his order.

Thompson further stated that he does not envision "a scenario in which there would be an opportunity for any physical confrontation between federal and state officials or between federal officials and anyone else. If called upon, this court intends, at this time, to achieve compliance by first exhausting the traditional civil-contempt process of levying fines."

Jay Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice commented during his radio program August 6, “Thompson’s order could start a constitutional showdown.” Sekelow was touching upon Moore’s refusal to remove the display even though under Alabama law, he has “custodial charge of the building.”

Should the Supreme Court choose to hear Moore’s case, a stray could be placed on Thompson’s order, Sekulow said.

"Normally, those stays are granted, so we may in fact see an avoidance of what may be a constitutional showdown in Alabama," Sekulow said.

David Prince, pastor of the Raleigh Avenue Baptist Church in Alabama said Moore has wide support from both Christians and non-Christians.

"I think he has some popularity in the culture at large simply because he was proven to be a man who is willing to speak his mind and who is willing to even take the consequences of standing for what he believes in. He stands in opposition to the cultural left that wants to mandate its values upon everybody else. He recognizes the real values that are part of our heritage and history."

The display no more violates the Constitution "than the fact that my money" says, "In God We Trust on it," Prince added.

"[I]t's irrefutable that our justice system is rooted in values and those values are rooted in the Scripture, and it simply recognizes that," Prince said. "It's not the coercion of anybody to do anything. It's just the recognition of our heritage."