Supreme Court rejects Ten Commandments monument appeal
Decision lets stand Alabama decision to remove statue
From Bill Mears
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The U.S. Supreme Court Monday rejected appeals to allow a granite monument of the Ten Commandments to be prominently displayed in an Alabama courthouse, a blow to the state's highest judge, who made the issue a personal crusade.
The case centered on whether displaying the biblical verses in a government building amounted to state promotion or endorsement of religion.
The justices without comment denied the appeal from Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was suspended by a federal court over his refusal to remove the display. He faces a trial before a state ethics board later this month.
Moore had argued the monument was a public acknowledgment of the role the Ten Commandments has played in the American legal system, and of the moral authority God has over society. He also claimed federal courts had no authority over his role as the state's chief justice.
"It's not over," Moore promised Monday afternoon in Alabama. "We do not intend to give up. We have only begun to fight."
The judge said he wasn't surprised about the high court's decision.
"It's not unexpected, completely unexpected the Supreme Court would decline to hear these petitions, indeed just last year they overturned the precedent which had existed for nearly 20 years regarding sodomy," Moore said.
Moore said he plans to send a petition to Congress in his effort to see his monument re-installed.
By not taking the case, the Supreme Court bypassed a chance to offer a definitive ruling on whether the Ten Commandments can be featured on public property.
The case prompted protests of support for Moore, with marches and prayer vigils held in Montgomery and outside the Supreme Court building in Washington.
U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson had ordered the monument's removal and threatened to fine the state $5,000 a day if it was not taken down by an August deadline. The 5,300-pound monument was moved to a non-public area of the state courthouse while the case was appealed.
Moore, an elected official, installed the monument two years ago in the judicial building's rotunda. He told CNN in August, "This is not about a monument or politics or religion. It's about the acknowledgment of God and the judge made that perfectly clear in closing argument when he said the issue is, can the state acknowledge God? He simply said we cannot. And that conflicts with the Alabama constitution, which says our justice system is established in invoking the guidance of almighty God."
The case is Moore v. Glassroth, no. 03-0468.
Meanwhile, Moore faces a hearing on ethical violations Nov. 12. One of his lawyers in that hearing said the legal team is fighting vigorously for the judge.
"We will continue to defend and fight for the chief justice until hell freezes over, and when hell freezes over, we'll continue to fight them on the ice," said lawyer Terry Butts.