Judge Roy Moore said Tuesday he's seriously considering running again for chief justice eight years after being kicked out of the job for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument.
Moore, 64, told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview that lots of people have encouraged him to enter the Republican primary and he expects to decide by Jan. 1.
"Definitely I can do the job. I've done that job and I did it well," he said.
Moore was elected chief justice in 2000. A trial court for judges removed him in 2003 for refusing to abide by a federal judge's order to remove the monument from public display in the state judicial building.
If he runs and is elected, Moore said he has "no plans at this time" to move the monument from its current location at CrossPoint Community Church and Coosa Christian School in Gadsden. "But as far as acknowledging God, that is something that I have no option. I will always do that," he said.
The current chief justice, Chuck Malone, and Charlie Graddick, a former attorney general who's now a circuit judge in Mobile, are already running in the Republican primary on March 13. No Democrat has announced.
Moore said he does not believe getting in the race behind the other two GOP candidates will hurt him.
"I am well-known. People know what I believe and what I stand for. My judicial philosophy is very conservative," he said.
He figures he may not have as much money as Malone, who has the backing of many business groups in Montgomery, but he said he beat a candidate in 2000 who was supported by the same business organizations.
"I'm not big on special interests and special interests are not big on me," he said.
Moore became a judge in 1992 when Republican Gov. Guy Hunt appointed him to a vacant circuit judgeship in Gadsden. He attracted national attention in a legal battle with the American Civil Liberties Union over his practice of opening court sessions with prayer and displaying a homemade plaque of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom.
After being elected chief justice, he had a 5,280-pound granite monument of the Ten Commandments installed in the lobby of the state judicial building in Montgomery. That set off more legal battles, which he lost.
Since getting kicked out as chief justice, Moore has made two runs for governor. He lost the 2006 Republican primary to incumbent Bob Riley and finished fourth in the GOP primary 2010.
In the spring, he formed an exploratory committee to consider a Republican run for president, but dropped it. Moore said he drew good crowds during speaking engagements in Iowa, the first caucus state, and South Carolina, an early primary state, but couldn't generate the money needed to seriously consider a campaign.
Moore said he was hesitant when people first approached him about running for his old job, but he changed his mind after thinking back to some of the significant cases the court handled during his time. One was a decision by the court that ended Alabama's equity funding lawsuit, which contended the state didn't provide adequate tax support for public schools.
Another was an advisory opinion he wrote about video poker machines that said if chance predominates over skill in a game, then it violates Alabama's ban on lotteries. Moore said he was pleased when that opinion when it was cited by several courts last year that ruled in favor of former Gov. Bob Riley's gambling task force during its raids on electronic bingo casinos.