- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 12, 2003

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Prosecutors urged a judicial panel to oust suspended Chief Justice Roy Moore yesterday for disobeying a federal judge’s order to move a Ten Commandments monument from the state courthouse rotunda.

Chief Justice Moore, whose cause has rallied religious conservatives across the country, argued that he was upholding his oath of office and promises to Alabama voters when he refused to move the 5,300-pound granite monument.

“Not only did I fulfill what I told the people of Alabama I would do, I also had a duty to uphold the constitutions of the United States and the state of Alabama. They both acknowledge God,” Chief Justice Moore said.

Attorney General Bill Pryor, who is prosecuting the chief justice, told the court in opening statements that they should remove the chief justice from office because of his “utterly unrepentant behavior.”

The Court of the Judiciary is hearing six charges that Chief Justice Moore violated the Canons of Judicial Ethics when he ignored the order to move the monument, which eventually was rolled to a storage room on instructions from the eight associate justices.

It would take a unanimous vote from the Court of the Judiciary to remove the chief justice from office halfway into his six-year elected term. He also could be reprimanded or suspended.

Chief Justice Moore moved the monument into the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building the night of July 31, 2001.

Liberal groups filed suit, and U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson ordered the monument moved, calling it an unconstitutional establishment of religion by government.

A federal appeals court upheld the ruling, and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear Chief Justice Moore’s appeal.

He has been suspended with pay since the charges were filed in August. Since then, he has spoken across the country exhorting followers to support government display of the Ten Commandments.

The trial’s first day yesterday attracted more than 200 people into the Alabama Supreme Court’s courtroom, two floors above the rotunda where the Ten Commandments monument stood.

About 100 Moore supporters gathered outside the judicial building, some carrying “Save the Ten Commandments” signs.

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