High Court Refuses to Hear Appeal for Ten Commandments Monument

( [email protected] ) Nov 04, 2003 09:23 AM EST

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore regarding a lower federal court’s ruling against the now-defunct Ten Commandments monument, on November 3.

The High Court refused without comment, to hear the appeal against the lower court’s decision to remove the monument from the Alabama state judicial building in August. While Moore attempted to defy the court orders, his fellow justices on the Alabama Supreme Court overruled him, and tore down the 5,280-pound monument from the building’s rotunda.

The Supreme Court decision to let the lower court’s ruling stand, means the federal rules on the public display of Ten Commandment monuments will remain unclear; currently there are several pending cases involving the display of similar monuments in courts around the country.

"There's a number of these cases still coming up, so the fact that [the Supreme Court] did not take Judge Moore's case does not mean the Ten Commandment issue is over with -- far from it," Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, said on his radio program Nov. 3. "I expect a lot more litigation to be ensuing on that.

Advocates for the separation of Church and State praised the refusal, saying that such decisions are what protect religious freedom.

"I think that ultimately this is the kind of decision that enhances religious liberty for everyone," said Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "Because today's religious majority could be a minority tomorrow, they need protecting against government promotion of any favored religion.”

However, Moore’s supporters scorned the decision, calling it “outrageous.”

"We just think it's outrageous that they don't even want to hear the arguments from Justice Moore and his attorneys," said Jim Backlin, director of legislative affairs for the Christian Coalition.

Backlin added he thinks the justices' refusal to hear the case "is indicative of what the federal judges are doing in general in this country -- going against the wishes of the American people on such issues as the Pledge of Allegiance, the Ten Commandments."

Moore, who defied lower court’s order in August, is set to face trial beginning November 12, by the state’s Court of Judiciary. Should they rule against him, Moore could be suspended or even removed from his bench.