Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has lost his appeal to be reinstated as Alabama's chief justice. Acting Chief Justice Gorman Houston said he was not surprised by the ruling. "I read the briefs and I heard the oral arguments and this is what I would have thought they would have done."
Moore was on a national speaking tour when he got the word. Before an engagement in Greenville, South Carolina, Moore said of the ruling,"The definition of religion itself recognizes God and a higher law. But they don't want to do that today. So, they ruled by their feelings, not by the law."
Jessica Atteberry, Moore's spokeswoman, says the court informed the Moore legal team of the ruling Friday morning.
In its 7-0 decision, the Special Court states, "We conclude that the judgement of the Court of the Judiciary is fully supported in clear and convincing evidence, as is the sanction it imposed of removing Chief Justice Moore from office. The judgment of the Court of the Judiciary is hereby affirmed in its entirety."
The Court also stated "that the sanction of removal from office was not plainly and palpably wrong, manifestly unjust, or without supporting evidence."
"Chief Justice Moore cites no authority that provides an exception to the rule of law that one must obey a court order or that would allow disobedience to a court order on the basis of one's religious beliefs. Further, there is no such exception to the application of the Canons of Judicial Ethics to Chief Justice Moore's conduct."
Special Justice Harry J. Wilters, Jr. added some personal observations to the opinion, specifically related to the Biblical points Moore had raised with the court. Wilters wrote, "Chief Justice Moore offered both legal and biblical arguments for his failure to comply with the federal court's order. Even if the biblical arguments could be considered the Bible also tells us:
Richard Cohen of the Southern Poverty Law Center told WSFA, "Roy Moore has nobody to blame but himself.... (The Special Court decision) "reaffirms no one is above the law, not even the former chief justice."
Cohen says the former chief justice is on an ego trip. "I think there is no end to Roy Moore egomania...It's not a momentary lapse...This is a calculated, open defiance of a federal court order. It's about as egregious as it gets quite frankly."
But, John Giles of the Christian Coalition says the ruling is "Astounding!" Giles told WSFA that judges who have embezzled funds and fondled members of their staff are still on the bench, while Moore is being removed for his defense of the Ten Commandments. Giles says Moore should definitely appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. The SPLC's Cohen says, "The Supreme Court will never take this case."
Giles said Moore was the target, not the Ten Commandments monument. "The 10 Commandments is now on display in the Alabama Judicial Building. We've got it on display at the capitol. Both of them are encircled in historical quotes. His monument was encircled in historical quotes. I think this was a target toward a man and not a monument."
Governor Bob Riley said in a written statement, "I have not yet had an opportunity to fully review the decision of the Alabama Supreme Court in the Roy Moore case, released this afternoon. For this reason, and because the question of Chief Justice Moore's reinstatement faces a possible rehearing before the Alabama Supreme Court, I do not have a comment on the Court's decision at this time."
Under Alabama law, it is the governor's responsibility to fill vacancies that occur on the state Supreme Court between elections.
A lawsuit was filed in Montgomery County Circuit Court Friday by 11 Alabamians who say it's unfair for the state to pay half a million dollars in fees for lawyers who sued to have the monument removed. Moore attorney Phillip Jauregui says the suit has no merit.
The state Court of the Judiciary expelled Moore from office in November for refusing to obey a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Judicial Building.
A court of retired judges, appointed after the elected justices stepped down, heard Moore's appeal.
Moore says the court was illegal and "political in nature." He says, "The people of Alabama have a right to acknowledge God and no judge or group of judges has the right to take it from them."
Speaking in Hamlet, North Carolina on Thursday Moore continued his cross country speaking tour talking about the decline of morals in the country. "As you can see every day in every newspaper of this state and this nation, you can see how people are slowly losing the moral basis of their lives," Moore said, according to News 14 in Charlotte.
Former Supreme Court Justice Terry Butts told reporters Friday that Moore should run for office again. "I think the people will ultimately demand that he run for some office, whether it be chief justice, whether it be governor, lt. governor, attorney general, U.S. senator or congress - I think he will be in demand to run."
Moore's attorney told the fill-in court during a hearing in February that federal courts have no right to interfere in states' acknowledgments of God. He reiterated his past comments Thursday evening that acknowledging God is not unconstitutional.
The Alabama Attorney General's Office argued that allowing judges to choose which orders they follow would lead to anarchy.
The Special Supreme Court which ruled on the appeal was composed of the following members: