Americans United for Separation of Church and State today criticized a House subcommittee for featuring testimony from ousted Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore in support of a radical "court-stripping" bill.
The Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, said Moore, who defied a federal court order last year to remove a massive Ten Commandments monument from public display at the state's Judicial Building, is unfit to provide testimony on a bill that would bar the federal courts from ruling in controversies involving government promotion of religion.
"Roy Moore has shown blatant contempt for the First Amendment's call to keep church and state separate in America," said Lynn. "It is shameful that some House lawmakers feel compelled to provide Moore a forum for his outlandish views."
Moore was removed from his post as Alabama chief justice for defying federal court orders.
The House Subcommittee on the Constitution scheduled Moore to testify at a hearing in the Rayburn Office Building today on H.R. 3799, the so-called "Constitution Restoration Act of 2004," which would strip the federal courts' jurisdiction over cases involving government endorsement of religion.
The bill states that the U.S. Supreme Court and the other federal courts shall not have jurisdiction over lawsuits against government officials' "acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government." Furthermore, the bill states that "any Federal court" that does take jurisdiction of a legal challenge to a government acknowledgment of God is subject to impeachment.
Lynn criticized the House subcommittee for trying to give credibility to an extreme measure that would undercut the separation of powers between the three branches of the federal government.
"It is deeply troubling that some House lawmakers have decided to take the time to give consideration to this radical bill," Lynn said. "The Constitution does not need to be restored. It does, however, need protection from hard-right ideologues like Moore."
Americans United for Separation of Church and State is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.