Stripped of his position for refusing a federal order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a courthouse, Alabama's former chief justice asked the state's highest court Wednesday to give him his job back.
In an appeal filed with Alabama's Supreme Court, Roy Moore said he was following the Alabama and U.S. constitutions when he defied a U.S. District Court order last summer to move a 5,000-pound Ten Commandments display from the state judiciary building in Montgomery.
The federal court had ruled that the stone marker, which was installed by Moore and his supporters in 2001, violated the constitutional ban on government promotion of religion.
Moore's defiance triggered a national debate over the role of religion in public life and prompted the Alabama Court of Judiciary to oust the Christian fundamentalist judge from office Nov. 13.
On Wednesday, Moore called the district court order "unlawful and unconstitutional" and said he had a constitutional obligation to acknowledge God in his former position as chief justice of the Bible Belt state.
"I think it is a political persecution, not a legal trial," Moore told Reuters shortly after the appeal was filed.
Moore's position has won strong support from thousands of Christians across the South. Civil liberties groups, however, have accused him of trying impose his religious beliefs on others.