Roy Moore, also known as the Ten Commandments judge, edged out his Democratic opponent Tuesday to win back his seat as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.
The race tightened throughout the night as poll results came in, at times tilting in the favor of Moore, and others in the direction of his opponent, Bob Vance. As the pendulum swung back and forth, near the end of the night, it became more apparent that Moore had a steady and increasing lead over Vance.
As of press time, Moore won by a vote of 52 to 48 percent, garnering just under 100,000 more votes than Vance.
Moore, who was previously removed from the bench for refusing to stop “acknowledging God,” had been believed to be the favored candidate since he began his bid for the Alabama Supreme Court, running far ahead of his previous challenger Harry Lyon. Lyon had been ousted by Democratic Party officials in August for making comments on Facebook against homosexual “marriage,” stating that it was “an abomination of God.” He had also opined that “only sick and perverted persons believe in homosexuality or lesbianism, though there are a lot of them.”
The Democratic Party then replaced Lyon with Vance, whose wife was one of the first attorneys appointed by Barack Obama after taking office.
In making a late start in the race with just a few months to go, Vance told reporters that he believes there are more important issues to focus on than those discussed by Moore — as the judge often spoke about moral concerns such as abortion and homosexuality.
“It’s an unfortunate political tradition here in Alabama of politicians seeking to stir up people’s passions and trying to make political capital out of emotional, divisive issues that are not the most pressing problems confronting Alabama,” he said. “I don’t think most people in Alabama regard this a problem in their daily lives, they’re struggling to find a job or keep a job, make ends meet and they want their government to provide basic services.”
However, many believed that Moore would still overcome in the end. They stated that residents would choose Moore due to both his name recognition and his stance on Biblical values.
“Most people see him as a Godly man with strong convictions,” stated Republican state party Chairman Bill Armistead.
As previously reported, in 2000, Moore ran for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court after serving as a circuit judge in Etowah County. Upon winning his bid and setting up his office in the courthouse, he arranged for a two-ton granite monument of the Ten Commandments to be displayed in the building’s rotunda, which was installed the following year.
Soon after, Moore was slammed with two lawsuits from three separate groups: the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Civil rights attorney Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center soon emerged as the central opponent to Moore’s display, arguing that the chief justice “placed this monument here to acknowledge the sovereignty of God over the affairs of men.”
Following a battle in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, who ruled that the display was unconstitutional as it violated the Establishment Clause, District Court Judge Myron Thompson then ordered Moore to remove the Ten Commandments from the courthouse rotunda within fifteen days. Moore refused, but the monument was later moved to a room that was not open for public viewing.
Days later, the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission filed a complaint against Moore. His position as Chief Justice was suspended, and he was placed on trial. During his hearing in November 2003, Moore firmly defended his decision to place the Ten Commandments in the courthouse, stating, “Without God there can be no ethics.” However, the assistant state attorney general argued that Moore’s defiance would have an adverse impact on how others treated court orders. “What message does that send to the public, to other litigants?,” he asked. “The message it sends is: If you don’t like a court order, you don’t have to follow it.”
On August 23, 2003, a unanimous panel of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary removed Judge Moore from the bench.
Now that Moore has regained his seat as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, he said that while he won’t display a monument this time, he will defend his right to acknowledge God.
“The true issue is whether we can acknowledge the sovereignty of Almighty God over the affairs of our state and our law,” he said.