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ADL Letter to Sen. John Cornyn, Chairman, Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution

  June 7, 2004

Honorable John Cornyn
Judiciary Subcommittee on the
Constitution, Civil Rights and Property Rights
224 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C., 20510

Dear Senator Cornyn,

We write to express concerns about the Subcommittee hearings scheduled for tomorrow, "Beyond the Pledge of Allegiance: Hostility to Religious Expression in the Public Square," at which former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is scheduled to testify.

Reasonable people on both sides of the issue of whether the Ten Commandments should be posted in federal courthouses were troubled by former Chief Justice Moore's conduct in this case. When the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit ruled that placing the Ten Commandments monument in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building had violated the U.S. Constitution, Chief Justice Moore was duty-bound to comply with that court order. Instead, he elevated his own views over the rule of law, stating "we should not follow unlawful orders of federal judges who undermine the constitutions of our state and our nation, and that's exactly what's happening in the federal judiciary." His outspoken defiance of the court orders prompted his removal from the Alabama Supreme Court by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary, which found that Chief Justice Moore had "willfully and publicly defied the orders of a United States district court…. and gave the court no assurances that he would follow that order or any similar order in the future."

Because of his conduct in this case, we believe former Chief Justice Moore is an inappropriate witness for these hearings. Embracing the rule of law is perhaps the most fundamental principle of our nation - and the duty of every citizen. Without it, our democracy would cease to function. By defying the Court of Appeals' order, Chief Justice Moore failed in his obligations as a chief judicial officer and as a citizen. We do not believe the Subcommittee should lend its prestige and credibility to an individual who has flaunted the rule of law proudly and without regret.

  Daniel S. Alter
Director, Civil Rights Division

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ADL Calls Invitation to Former Alabama Chief Justice As Witness In Senate Hearing on Religious Expression "Inappropriate" (6/7/04)
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