Commandments Must Go

Judge Myron Thompson has ordered the state of Alabama to remove the Ten Commandments monument from the State Judicial Building by August 20th. The monument is allowed to stay in private areas such as Moore's chambers.

Moore filed a brief with the court claiming Thompson did not have the authority to remove the monument.

Judge Thompson said the main reason for ordering the removal was Moore's failure to ask that the stay that was already in place be continued. It is not clear what Thompson would have ruled had Moore asked for the stay.

Federal marshals will not be called in to remove the monument. Judge Thompson says, "It is the inital obligation of the State of Alabama and not any federal official,  to remove the monument."  Thompson could fine the state for each day the monument remains in the rotunda.

The fines for the first week would be $5,000 a day and would double each week after the first week.  The governor's office and the office of the attorney general were both made aware of the ruling by the court.  No comment has been made by either office.

Plaintiff's attorney Richard Cohen told WSFA's Eileen Jones he hopes the state will "remove the monument before it costs the taxpayers money." As to the future actions of Chief Justice Roy Moore, Cohen said it would be a "terrible thing for the chief judicial officer of the state to flaunt a federal court order."

Moore has not yet been heard from on the issue, but a spokesman called the ruling "judicial tyranny."  Tom Parker said the ruling was "calculated to intimidate and cause the chief justice of Alabama to violate his oath of office to uphold the constitution of the United States and the constitution of Alabama."

Chief Justice Roy Moore has already said he would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court has been reluctant in the past to take up Ten Commandments cases, declining to take up such cases three times in the past three terms.

Rick Scarbourgh of American Vision called the ruling "economic blackmail."  He said the ruling was an "effort to cause taxpaying citizens to quake in fear."

In a press release, the Alabama Christian Coalition's John Giles stated "The sand is quickly moving through the hour glass as the federal court makes preparation to strip the moral foundation of our law from the Alabama Judicial Building. The encroachment of the federal court on this matter will be met with considerable peaceful intervention. A line has been drawn in the sand and there will most likely be a showdown in Montgomery when the hour glass empties on August 20th."

On WSFA's News 12 at 5, Giles added, "I imagine you're going to see people of faith swarming into Montgomery from all over the country." Giles said people would see movement around the 21st.

The Christian Defense Coalition says that they  will hold a rally on August 16th with the time to be announced.  The group also states that at 12:01 a.m., August 20th there will be at least 500 people surrounding the monument who will be ready to be arrested if necessary.

Regarding possible confrontation with opponents of the ruling, Thompson states in his ruling, "The court, at this time, does not envision a scenariao in which there would be an opportunity for any physical confrontation between federal and state officials or between federal officials and anyone else.  If called upon, this court intends, at this time, to achieve compliance by first exhausting the traditional civil-contempt process of levying fines."

Similar disputes over the Ten Commandments are under way in Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.