- The Washington Times - Friday, August 22, 2003

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Chief Justice Roy Moore was suspended by a judicial ethics panel yesterday for his refusal to obey a federal court order to remove his Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Judicial Building rotunda.

Justice Moore was automatically suspended with pay when the nine-member Judicial Inquiry Commission referred the ethics complaint against him to the Court of the Judiciary, which holds trial-like proceedings and can discipline and remove judges.

Ruby Crowe, an assistant clerk working with the court, said Justice Moore will have 30 days to respond.

Justice Moore met with the commission earlier as about 100 of his supporters, several blocks away at the federal courthouse, ripped and burned a copy of U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson’s order for the monument’s removal.

Justice Moore said he told the commission that he upheld his oath of office by acknowledging God. He has said Judge Thompson had no authority to tell the state’s chief justice to remove the monument.

Judge Thompson ruled last year that the monument, installed by Justice Moore in a highly visible public spot in the state building, violates the Constitution’s ban on government promotion of a religious doctrine. When Justice Moore refused to move it, eight associate justices overruled him and ordered it out of the rotunda.

The monument could be moved to a private place in the building, Judge Thompson ruled.

The 5,300-pound granite marker remained in the rotunda yesterday as court officials discussed where in the building it could be moved and given proper security.

About 100 protesters moved from the steps of the judicial building to a sidewalk in front of the federal courthouse yesterday, where Judge Thompson works. Some ripped to pieces and burned a copy of the judge’s ruling. Demonstrators also held a mock trial, in which Thompson was charged with breaking the law of God.

“We hold you, Judge Thompson, and the United States Supreme Court in contempt of God’s law,” said Flip Benham, director of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue.

Ayesha Khan, an attorney for Americans United for Separation of Church and State, one of the groups seeking removal of the monument, said Judge Thompson told the parties that he would schedule another conference call for late next week.

“Our concern all along has been compliance with the Constitution. Once the monument has been removed, our concerns will have been addressed,” she said.

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