Local reaction varies on ousted judge

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 15, 2003

He’s out. That was the verdict from the Court of the Judiciary in a unanimous decision that removed Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore from office.

The decision ended a two-year battle over the placement of the Ten Commandments monument in the state’s Judicial Building in Montgomery.

Moore commissioned the 2-ton monument and had it placed in the Judicial Building’s rotunda in July 2001, vowing never to allow it to be removed – a vow that cost him his job.

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The controversy was a hot bed of debate nationwide as government officials and lawmakers juggled the conflict over mixing religion and government, but the final word from the judiciary’s ruling body was that no one is above the law – not even a state Supreme Court justice.

Locally, area residents’ opinions seemed as conflicted as the controversy itself, but most agreed with the court’s decision.

&uot;Although I was supportive of Moore’s wish to place the Ten Commandments monument in the Judicial Building, once the decision was made to have it removed, he should have followed it,&uot; Mayor pro tempore Jeddo Bell said. &uot;We must obey the law.&uot;

District Judge MacDonald Russell also agreed the Court of Judiciary made the right decision in dismissing Moore.

&uot;I’m not going to debate the issue of the monument, it’s not my place as a judge,&uot; Russell said. &uot;But of all people, Justice Moore should know that there are other ways than defying a court order to appeal a decision with which you disagree. No one should set himself or herself up as being above the law.&uot;

Southside Baptist Church Pastor Herbert Brown echoed this sentiment.

&uot;I really hate that it had to come to this,&uot; Brown said. &uot;I don’t think it should have turned out this way. I support the free expression of religion; I think it has been taken away from us too many times in many ways in recent years. Still, I think Moore should have abided by the court order. The only way to change things is to do things legally, through the courts. I wouldn’t be one who would say we need to break the law to further our agenda. Christian people should approach it the proper way.&uot;

Kathy Atchison, secretary for the Butler County Education and Community Services Center, said she has mixed emotions about the removal of Judge Moore.

&uot;On one hand I support the displaying of the Ten Commandments because that is what the Bible says we should live by,&uot; she said. &uot;And I understand, as a Christian, why the judge was fighting for that right. Still, on the other hand, he defied several court orders that said to remove it, and chose not to. How could he sit in judgment of others who refuse to follow the law, when he refuses to do the same?&uot;

Covenant Warriors Christian Center’s Rev. Leander Robinson felt the decision was a testament to how far away from being a Christian nation we have come.

&uot;This incident shows where we are as a nation in relation to the Word of God,&uot; Robinson said. &uot;I don’t think Moore ever thought he was above the law, neither do I believe that he was trying to be above man’s law. He has taken man’s interpretation of the law and shown how it does not line up with the Constitution. He’s definitely not out of line with the Word of God.&uot;

Peggy Scrivner agreed with Robinson’s assessment.

&uot;I feel like this is the downfall of our great nation,&uot; Scrivner said. &uot;[Moore’s actions] were based on the belief in God. What better rules to live by than the Ten Commandments? Our education system is in the mess it is now because they took God out of school. That is why our nation seems to be out of control with no morals. We are not taught to worship and fear God, beginning in the most important years of our lives – our youth. This healthy respect of God and his judgments has loosened this nation’s views of right and wrong.&uot;