- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 19, 2002

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) A Ten Commandments monument in the rotunda of Alabama's judicial building violates the Constitution's ban on government promotion of religion, a federal judge ruled yesterday.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson gave Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who had the 5,300-pound granite monument installed in the state building, 30 days to remove it.

Judge Thompson said that previous court rulings have allowed displays on government property if they have a secular purpose and do not foster "excessive government entanglement with religion."

He said the Ten Commandments monument fails this test.

"His fundamental, if not sole, purpose in displaying the monument was non-secular; and the monument's primary effect advances religion," Judge Thompson said.

Chief Justice Moore testified during the trial that the commandments are the moral foundation of American law. He said the monument acknowledges God, but does not force anyone to follow his conservative Christian religious beliefs.

A lawsuit seeking removal of the monument argued that it promoted the judge's faith in violation of the Constitution's ban on government establishment of religion.

Chief Justice Moore installed the monument after the building closed on the night of July 31, 2001, without telling any other justices.

"This monument was snuck in during the middle of the night and they can sneak it out just as easily. It's a gross violation of the rights of the citizens of Alabama," said Morris Dees, lead counsel and co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who urged Chief Justice Moore to remove the monument immediately.

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