A stand-in state Supreme Court unanimously rejected Roy Moore’s bid to be reinstated as Alabama’s chief justice Friday, the latest legal chapter in the saga surrounding his Ten Commandments monument.
The court upheld his ouster 7-0. Details were not immediately available; a written opinion was to be released later in the day.
An ethics panel expelled Moore from office for refusing to obey a federal court order to move his 5,300-pound Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building.
Seven retired judges were selected to serve on the replacement Supreme Court that heard Moore’s appeal of the ouster.
“The elected representatives of the people, the eight associate justices of the Alabama Supreme Court, hid behind the robes of an illegally appointed, politically selected court,” Moore said in a statement. “It is political in nature. This is about the acknowledgment of God and many judges can’t admit they are wrong and that they can enter unlawful orders.”
In arguments before the replacement court, which was appointed after the elected justices stepped down, Moore’s attorneys said that federal courts had no right to interfere in states’ acknowledgments of God and that Moore was not bound to obey a court order that violated his oath of office.
The state’s attorneys countered that it would lead to anarchy if judges could choose which orders to obey and which to ignore. They said that, as a judge, Moore was obligated to set an example of following the rule of law.
Appeal to U.S. Supreme Court on table
Moore has said he would appeal the expulsion ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court if necessary. It was not immediately clear whether that remained his plan.
Moore is behind a bill before Congress that would prohibit federal judges from hearing cases involving acknowledgments of God. The measure was expected to be heard by the House Judiciary Committee later this year.
Within months of winning election as chief justice in 2000, Moore had the monument moved into the state Judicial Building. It quickly became a lightning rod in the debate over the place of religion in government, and a federal judge ordered it removed.
The order was upheld on appeal, but Moore refused to obey. The other eight state justices stepped in and had the monument wheeled into a storage room to avoid stiff fines on the state.
The state judicial ethics panel later found Moore guilty of judicial misconduct and stripped him of his office.