Judge Moore makes a case against his monument

October 20, 2002

The trial of the lawsuit in Montgomery seeking to remove Chief Justice Roy Moore's 5,300-pound monument to the Ten Commandments from the state Judicial Building will drag on into this week, but the judge should have little difficulty in making a decision when testimony finally ends.

Moore has made a damning case against his monument.

The chief justice, who took the witness stand on Thursday, came across as exactly the kind of religious zealot that the plaintiffs claim he is. Nothing less than "the future of the nation" rests on his monument, he testified.

Moore said that the washing machine-size monument, which he had installed secretly at midnight, represents a bulwark against what he sees as 40 to 50 years of assault on religious freedom by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court's decisions have distanced the nation from/sacknowledgment of God, and "without the acknowledgment of God there is a loss of morality," Moore said at the federal court trial in Montgomery.

That is strong evidence of the plaintiffs' contention that the monument has a religious purpose that violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

But Moore, true to form, didn't stop there. He said he would not permit Buddhists, Hindus or Muslims to erect monuments to their faiths, because they have nothing to do with what he sees as the moral foundation of law.

That foundation, in Moore's mind, comes from the one true god � his god. The god of any other religion doesn't meet Moore's measure.

In another telling bit of testimony, Moore admitted that one of the few people he let in on the secret, dark-of-night plans to erect his monument was a Florida TV preacher, D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries. Kennedy had a crew film the installation. Today, he peddles a videotape of it for $19 a pop.

Moore's defense will spend much of this week talking about moral law and the Ten Commandments, but that/sisn't the issue. The legal case against the monument is a slam-dunk. Federal law is clear.

At thesame time the trial was going on in Montgomery, county commissioners in Chattanooga, Tenn., were trying to decide how to pay legal bills after losing a federal court fight to post the Ten Commandments on the walls of a courthouse, a courts building and a/sjuvenile court.

The Hamilton County, Tenn., officials ordered the plaques erected after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Last May, a federal judge found that they violated the constitutional separation of church and state and ordered them taken down. He also ordered them to pay plaintiffs' legal fees. With their own attorneys' fees, the county owes $78,000 to lawyers. Commissioners are thinking of selling the plaques to help pay the bills.

Moore, who is using private money to finance his/sdefense, may face a stiffer judgment. If he loses in U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson's court, as expected, he will appeal to the Supreme Court � ironically, the same court he accuses of eroding the nation's moral values.

It's an expensive proposition, but it will offer Moore's backers a chance to sell a lot more videotapes. If the court hears the case, Moore will get another national stage to advocate his theocratic views. That's value for money, if your values don't include/supholding the integrity of the Constitution and the criminal justice system.

Copyright 2002 The Tuscaloosa News

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