Moore to Continue Fight with Appeal and Legislation

Decision Being Read
Decision Being Read
Judge Listens to Court
Judge Listens to Court

Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore says the fight will continue.   The former chief justice issued a statement Monday saying he would be proposing legislation to Congress after the first of the year to "limit the jurisdiction of the lower federal courts."

Moore had hinted last week that this might be his next step.  Congress has the constitutional authority to "ordain and establish" federal courts and Article III, Section 1 gives Congress the implied power to limit the jurisdiction of the lower federal courts.  Moore says he has been advised "not to release the complete dteails of the specific legislation until after the holiday seasons and the reconvening of Congress after the new year."

It is conceivable that a jurisdiction-stripping bill passed by a simple majority of the Congress and with the signature of the President would be easier to pass than a constitutional amendment and more effective than a federal statute.

A group called the National Coalition to Restore the Constitution says on its web site that it is "organizing simultaneous rallies in every state capitol to launch a 1st Amendment Petition for Redress of Greivance to Congress demanding that they do their duty, honor their oath and use the power we the people gave them in Article III, Sections 1 and 2 of the Constitution to limit the jurisdiction of the federal courts on the subject of religion to the clear language and intent of the 1st Amendment.  Congress will do its duty when "we the people" demand it and require it as a condition of re-election."

It is not yet known if this group is in any way affiliated with the former chief justice.  But they have a rally planned in Montgomery(and 50 other state capitols) on November 22, 2003 at 1:00 p.m.  The group also says it will be holding a "Constitution in Crisis Summit" in January 2004.

As for Moore's next legal actions, one of Moore's attorneys, Terry Butts, told WSFA Friday that Moore would appeal the Court of the Judiciary's verdict to the Alabama Supreme Court. Butts says he has not decided yet whether or not to ask the associate justices to recuse themselves from the case. Moore has 30 days from the verdict to appeal the decision.

The justices have worked with Moore for the past three years and they also made the final decision to move the monument from the rotunda of the judicial building to a nearby storage room.

WSFA's Eileen Jones talked with the Office of the Attorney General, the Court of the Judiciary, the Judicial Inquiry Commission, the Administrative Office of the Courts as well as Roy Moore's attorneys and the general response was, "I don't know.  We've never had to deal with this before."  However most of them seem to think Moore would be reinstated as "suspended chief justice" with pay during his appeals.

There is still a question as to who would appoint justices if justices decided to recuse themselves from the case. In recent years, the court has appointed it's own replacements, but there are some who argue only the governor has the authority to appoint replacements.

Former Alabama Chief Justice Perry Hooper said earlier this year the court should appoint the replacements "not the legislative or executive branches" because the court is in charge of the judiciary branch. Hooper said he would expect the court to appoint retired judges with no involvement in the case.

Friday Governor Bob Riley said, "There are somewhat conflicting opinions about whether the Chief Justice does or the Governor does, but if and when that were to occur then I'll sit down with Justice Houston and we'll see if we can work something out that's satisfactory to both of us."

Acting Chief Justice Gorman Houston says if any of the justices decide to recuse themselves, he thinks all of the names of the retired appellate judges should be put in a hat and their names pulled to fill the vacancies.  Houston also said there may not be any who decide to recuse themselves.  He says he is not going to recuse himself because he says he thinks he can judge the case fairly.

Moore was found guilty of judicial ethics violations on Thursday.

The Court of the Judiciary said this in its ruling Thursday: "This court has found that Chief Justice Moore not only willfully and publicly defied the orders of a United States district court, but upon direct questioning by the court he also gave the court no assurances that he would follow that order or any similar order in the future. In fact, he affirmed his earlier statements in which he said he would do the same. Under these circumstances, there is no penalty short of removal from office that would resolve this issue. Anything short of removal would only serve to set up another confrontation that would ultimately bring us back to where we are today. This court unanimously concludes that Chief Justice Moore should be removed from the office of Chief Justice. It is therefore ORDERED and ADJUDGED by the court that Roy S. Moore be, and he hereby is, removed from the office of Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama."

The Court said that it "respects Chief Justice Moore's right to his personal opinion on the underlying issues presented in the federal court litigation, the fact remains that Chief Justice Moore is the chief judicial officer of this State and is held to a higher standard than a member of the general public."

The former chief justice says he was upholding his oath of office when he ignored a federal court order to move a Ten Commandments monument.

Chief Justice Moore, suspended with pay since August in the judicial ethics case, testified Wednesday that he was fulfilling his duties and promises to voters when he refused to follow the court order.

Roy Moore says for now he plans to look for a job and meet with his attorneys to discuss his legal options. "I'll be discussing with my attorneys what course of action to take. I am consulting with many state, political and religious leaders, and I'll be making an announcement next week which could alter the course of this country, our state, and our nation."

According the Birmingham News, Moore attorney Terry Butts says, "He'll be back as a U.S. senator. He'll be back as a chief justice. He may be back as governor."

Michael Briddell spoke to the former chief justice Thursday afternoon, just a few feet from where three years ago he took his oath of office.

Moore says he expected the judgement against him, but not the punishment. "It wasn't unexpected that we would get an adverse ruling, we expected that. But I was surprised that it would be the harshest thing which is removal from office and I think that's very wrong."

Moore says he should still be chief justice, because the events that led to this ruling are incorrect. He argues federal judges can't, in essence, overturn state constitutions.

When asked the question, "How is that different than George Wallace 40 years ago thumbing his nose at the federal government, saying, 'No, I'm not going to let integration take place here at the University of Alabama?"

Moore said the difference was "I'm appointing the rights of all men to be equal because they're created in the image of God, and to acknowledge that God is to acknowledge equality. What George Wallace did was to forbid that equality by saying he would not obey the order. He was not upholding the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, or the 10th Amendment."

Along with detractors Moore has backers across the country, but does he plan to capitalize on this support? When asked whether or not he knew someone that could do a better job than Senator Richard Shelby, Moore smiled and said, "Well, I don't know. We'll have to wait and see."

Moore pulls no punches in his opinion of Bill Pryor, who argued against him at trial. Moore says Pryor violated his oath of office. When asked if it's possible that a federal judge, a federal appeals ruling and the court of the judiciary are right...and he's wrong, Moore said absolutely not!

"The Alabama Constitution says that God is the source of our justice system. To acknowledge that God cannot be on the wrong side of the law, it's on the right side of the law. It's acknowledging the God that's stated in our constitution."

The Christian Defense Coalition is talking about filing a federal lawsuit over Moore's removal from the bench.

As for the man who prosecuted the case, Attorney General Bill Pryor said since he's in the legal profession he's learned not to be surprised by anything. Pryor told reporters, after the verdict was announced, what he repeatedly said to the judges during the trial "no man is above the law." He said his decision to prosecute the case had nothing to do with his appointment to a federal appeals court as some critics claim. He also dismissed an accusation by the former chief justice that he, Pryor, had changed his views on separation of church and state issues after being appointed attorney general.

Pryor says this case was all about obeying the law. "I did my duty. I believe that we presented the case of the commission appropriately and professionally and I will lose no sleep over this. I will look at myself in the mirror in the morning and know that I have done my duty, the duty that the people of Alabama have twice elected me to do."

As for those who still claim Pryor prosecuted the chief justice over the Ten Commandments, Pryor is quoted by as saying, "I did not prosecute the chief justice for the Ten Commandments. I prosecuted the chief justice because he refused to obey a court order from a federal district court that had been affirmed by the court of appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States had decided not to review."

Pryor says he believes the State of Alabama can acknowledge God the same way the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledges God, in an historical context.