Tuesday, January 20, 2004

ANNAPOLIS — Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, ousted from office for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state Judicial Building, told Maryland legislators and onlookers yesterday to “take a stand” against the federal government.

“Every state’s constitution, including the state of Maryland’s, acknowledges God,” Mr. Moore told a crowd of nearly 200 legislators and supporters at a rally outside the State House. “A lot of people think it was about a monument, and it wasn’t. It was about God.”

Mr. Moore, named the “The Commandments” judge by the news media, gained national attention when he refused to remove the 5,300-pound Ten Commandments monument he put in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building.

He placed the monument in the building about six months after taking office in January 2001. It was removed in August, and Mr. Moore was suspended without pay, then removed from the bench on Nov. 13.

Delegate Richard K. Impallaria, Baltimore and Harford counties Republican, said Mr. Moore’s fight was courageous.

“We must stand for that courage,” he said. “Because if we lose that courage, we will lose what God has given us.”

Sen. Alexander X. Mooney, Frederick and Washington counties Republican, agreed.

“I really appreciate [ Mr.] Moore’s leadership on this issue,” he said. “In politics, it’s rare to find a man that won’t compromise.”

Delegate Donald H. Dwyer Jr., Anne Arundel Republican, said Mr. Moore’s visit was about exposing the “truth” about why he was removed from the bench.

“It is not because of a monument; it is not because of a man,” Mr. Dwyer said. “It is because he refuses to deny that there is a God.”

Mr. Dwyer and Mr. Mooney have proposed a joint nonbinding resolution requesting the U.S. Congress recognize Maryland’s “independence from federal court interference with religion” and asking for the power to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, to recite the national motto “In God We Trust,” and to display the Ten Commandments on government property.

Mr. Moore said the resolution is necessary because the federal government usurped Alabama’s power when a federal appeals court upheld a ruling calling for the removal of the monument. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to review the case.

Similar legislation has been proposed in Georgia, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Virginia, Mr. Dwyer said.

Said Mr. Moore: “That is the issue all across this land. The question is, can we as a state, can we as a nation acknowledge God.

“It was this God that gave us this nation, and this God that gave us these rights. All things come under God, and if you don’t recognize that God, you end up taking rights away from people.”

Majority Whip Emmett C. Burns Jr., Baltimore Democrat, told the crowd Mr. Moore has a message young people need to hear.

“This nation is going to hell fast,” he said. “Yes, I am for the Ten Commandments. There would not be so much killing if young people heeded the words, ‘Thou shall not kill; Thou shall not steal.’”

Delegate A. Wade Kach, Baltimore County Republican, agreed.

“This is a national cause that we cannot lose,” he told the crowd. “Ultimately, we are on the right side and we will prevail.”

Mr. Moore will challenge his removal from the bench before seven retired judges, chosen by his former peers on the state Supreme Court bench.

He said that he has been living on speaking fees and shopping for a book deal until he is reinstated.

“The rule of law is not what a judge says it is,” Mr. Moore told legislators and supporters after the rally. “It is what the statute says.”

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