Montgomery, Alabama — After being sworn in again Friday as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore, known as the “Ten Commandments Judge,” gave a speech to a packed room about the origin of law and justice.
“We’ve got to remember that most of what we do in court comes from some Scripture or is backed by Scripture,” Moore told the overflow audience, some of who watched from another room on closed circuit television.
According to reports, Moore explained that the court system was created by God, and that the basis for law is outlined in the Book of Deuteronomy. He quoted from Founding Fathers Madison and Washington as well, and talked about the importance of acknowledging God, just as he did in 2003 when he was removed from the bench.
“It was right then to acknowledge God,” Moore said. “And it will continue to be so.”
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.
However, in running again for chief justice last year, Moore edged out his Democratic opponent Bob Vance to regain his old seat. He had also run for governor two years prior, but lost in the primaries. He thanked the now Governor Robert Bentley for beating him in the race on Friday.
“If he hadn’t beaten me, I wouldn’t be here today,” Moore remarked, recognizing the hand of God.
Bentley also delivered a speech to the hundreds that had gathered, including acquaintances from when Moore attended West Point Academy in New York.
“We have common beliefs and we believe in the same God,” the governor said, referring to Moore and Tommy Bryan, who was sworn in as associate justice. “And we worship that same God. And I am honored to serve with two men like this and men and women on this court. It is a true honor. And I truly believe that the people of Alabama are better off when we have men and women who believe there is Someone else who controls their lives and controls this state.”