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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Monument to be Moved Soon

Aired August 27, 2003 - 09:26   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Jeff, thanks for joining us. Quick question, we heard from the protesters with Brian Cabell just a moment ago. They talked about how the movement of this monument was meant to be in their minds an intimidation factor to the judge who will be running this court hearing that's taking place at 3:00 this afternoon.
Do you think there's any merit to that argument, Jeff?

JEFF TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't really think so. I think this is a -- this has been a very dramatic issue, but it's really not a difficult issue. This is a fairly straightforward case of the government in this case Alabama, endorsing one religion over others. The federal courts who have supremacy over the state courts, have ordered that the Ten Commandments out of the courthouse. That order is being enforced, and it's really pretty straightforward. I don't think there is any hope to this further lawsuit. I think that the court is really making sure that its order is enforced.

O'BRIEN: At the same time, the protester who Brian was talking to asked for what I thought was a good question. While there is still some kind of litigation pending, why not wait? I mean, 3:00 this afternoon. Why not wait, see what that judge has to say and then take the steps to remove or leave it there, as the case may be?

TOOBIN: Because this litigation is really over. People continue to file additional requests to overturn a decision. But a court, a federal court has issued a specific, direct order that the Ten Commandments be removed. The fact that someone is trying to have that overturned, that's really generally no reason to delay. This is sort of a last-ditch effort, and they are -- they don't really get a delay simply by asking for an order to be overturned.

O'BRIEN: I have read that the supreme court in Washington D.C. has three monuments to the 10 Commandments. I'm not sure as to the size of them, and I haven't seen them with my own eyes, but that's what I've been told. So what's the difference there? Why can the Supreme Court have them and this judiciary building not?

TOOBIN: Interesting. I have to say, I've been surprised as this story has percolated along that there are more than a few references to the Ten Commandments in various government institutions around the country. You mentioned the Supreme Court. There are states, municipalities that have references to the Ten Commandments on their seals. There are Ten Commandments in other government buildings.

But I think it's really just a matter of scale and common sense. Small, unobtrusive historical references to the Ten Commandments are one thing; a 5,000 pound monument in the middle of the Supreme Court building is another. The courts have to make judgments like this all the time.

O'BRIEN: Jeff, I'm going to stop you there for a second, because we're getting to our half hour. I'm going to ask you to stick along with us on the line while we tell folks what they're seeing there.

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