Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who gained national notoriety for defying a federal order to remove a granite monument of the Ten Commandments from a courthouse, was voted as the Republican nominee for his former position earlier this week.
Moore received a little more than half of the votes Tuesday to win the nomination for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Political analysts rank him as a heavy favorite to win the general election over his Democratic opponent in November.
In 2001, Chief Justice Moore installed a granite monument depicting the Ten Commandments in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building, "to invoke the favor and guidance of Almighty God in establishing justice as provided in the Constitution of the State of Alabama," according to the Judge Roy Moore for Chief Justice website.
The ACLU was joined by the Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Southern Poverty Law Center in a lawsuit against Moore over the display. According to his campaign, the issue in the case as stated by the federal district judge in his closing argument was, "Can the state acknowledge God?"
In Federal District Court Judge Myron Thompson's final decision he stated, "While the Chief Justice is free to keep whatever religious beliefs he chooses, the State (Alabama) cannot acknowledge the Judeo-Christian God or attribute to that God our religious freedom."
Moore's refusal to remove the 5,300-pound monument of the Ten Commandments from the judicial building where he served as a state Supreme Court justice led to a state panel and later, his ouster in 2003.
Last spring, Moore launched an exploratory committee for a possible run at the Republican GOP nomination in the presidential race. In November, he withdrew the committee and ended any speculation about entering the presidential primaries.
His Democratic opponent for the chief justice position in the Nov. 6 general election is attorney Harry Lyon.
Also known as "The Ten Commandments Judge," Moore, 65, served as chairman of the Board for the Foundation for Moral Law after his removal from office on Nov. 12, 2003. He currently serves as president of that foundation in Montgomery, Ala.
A group of lawyer advocates for constitutional rights hopes that someday a case such as the one the ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State won against Moore will no longer be winnable. The American Civil Rights Union submitted an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday which seeks to restore the original intent framers of the Constitution had when they penned the First Amendment's freedom of religion clause.
ACRU argues for a new constitutional standard protecting religious freedom under a "Coercion Test." The recommended legal test would show that public religious expression does not violate the Constitution's prohibition against establishment of religion unless it involves coercion.