Three years ago this month, Roy Moore, then chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, waited until the end of the day and then arranged to have a two-and-a-half ton Ten Commandments monument placed in the lobby of the state Judicial Building.
The action sparked a lawsuit. Americans United, the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama and the Southern Poverty Law Center joined forces to challenge Moore's religious display on behalf of state residents. Moore lost at every level, and when he refused to remove the monument anyway, was removed from the court.
Fallout from that contentious battle is still being felt. Recently, Acting Chief Justice Gorman Houston, who ordered the monument removed from the rotunda in compliance with the federal court's order, recounted an interesting exchange he had with Moore at the time. "Roy told me in that four-minute conversation that I was damned to hell, that there was nothing I could ever do to change that, because I was covering God," Houston said recently. "I was speechless."
As for the monument itself, it's going on the road. The monument has been sitting in a locked, unused room in the courthouse since Houston ordered it out of the rotunda. Yesterday, it left Montgomery on the back of flatbed truck. Instead of paying for removal of the monument himself, Moore has given the 5,280-pound rock to a Religious Right group, American Veterans Standing for God and Country.
The group plans to take "Roy's Rock" to several states before ending in Washington, D.C., in October. "I think our main message is that our judicial system and the way it's operating today, has become one of our domestic enemies," said Jim Cabaniss, president of the Houston-based group. "They're running roughshod over our Christian heritage."
The group's effort may be hampered by allegations of anti-Semitism and racism that have been lodged against it. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Omer Rivers, founder of Mississippi-based Jesus Saves Ministries, alleges that Cabaniss made anti-Semitic, racist remarks during a meeting about the tour he attended with Cabaniss and Moore on June 28.
Moore may join some of the rallies, but he plans to keep busy on other efforts as well. As his monument tours the country, Moore plans to continue his quixotic quest by appealing his ouster from office to the U.S. Supreme Court.