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Roy Moore’s Lofty Brow

Here's a pretty old legacy post from the blog archives of Geekery Today; it was written about 20 years ago, in 2003, on the World Wide Web.

photo: Roy Moore

This is Roy Moore. Roy Moore recently got in trouble because he defied a federal court order to move a Ten Commandments monument that he placed in the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court building. Roy Moore is suspended from the Alabama Supreme Court, and is facing a trial from the Court of the Judiciary which could permanently remove him from the bench.

Roy Moore also has a huge forehead.

If Chief Justice Moore had only made use of his God-given endowments, he could have avoided this whole mess. He could have sidestepped the court battle by removing the Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda—and then having the Ten Commandments tattooed on his humongous forehead.

Wherever Roy Moore would go, the Ten Commandments would be there, showing forth the divine law from his lofty brow. The removal of the monument would satisfy the federal court order, but Roy Moore and his supporters would have the last laugh. No court could possibly rule that Roy Moore should be banned from sitting on the court because of a First Amendment-protected tattoo. And would even Judge Myron Thompson be so rude as to order that a gentleman cover his forehead with a hat while indoors? I think not.

Thank goodness that Roy Moore didn’t recognize this in time. Here’s to two months of freedom from theocratic rule in Alabama!

6 replies to Roy Moore’s Lofty Brow Use a feed to Follow replies to this article

  1. M Cockrell

    Your facetious comments don’t justify the travesty & the mockery of justice that Judge Thompson & the ethics committee has perpetrated on Judge Moore & the American public.

  2. Charles Johnson

    M. Cockrell complains that my “facetious comments” in this post don’t justify the actions of Judge Myron Thompson, who ordered then-Chief Justice Roy Moore to remove the Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court building, and the Alabama Court of the Judiciary, which convicted Moore of multiple violations of judicial ethics and threw him out of office for defying Thompson’s court order. Of course, nothing in this post justifies those actions; nothing in this post attempted to justify those actions. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve written several times on Roy Moore elsewhere:

    If you want the case for why Roy Moore should have been removed, it is because he is a dangerous would-be theocrat, and because he is a lawless judicial activist with no respect for either the natural law, or even the codified law of the United States and the State of Alabama. As I argue in these articles, he stands for a totalitarian state to enforce his own Right-wing social agenda, and his lawless stand against the federal court trod all over not only the United States Constitution, but also the clear language of the Constitution of the State of Alabama. If that’s not reason for removing a judge from office, then what is?

— 2004 —

  1. M Cockrell

    Your response is nothing more than the same old tired rethoric & drivel. You refer to “the clear language of the Constitution of the State of Alabama,” but you never specify what law Judge Moore (supposedly) violates? Judge Thompson’s order was ILLEGAL; as in, it had no basis in law. As a result, the Ethics Committee’s ruling was also in error. Even military personnel have the right to refuse to obey an UNLAWFUL ORDER, which is exactly what Justice Moore did.

    By the way, we don’t arbitarily remove elected officials from office, without legal justification, regardless of whether or not they are “dangerous would-be theocrats.” It is irrelevant what Judge Moore’s beliefs are. Until he requires a profession of faith to his God or a religious test inquiring as to the religious affliations of those who appear in his court, it is inconsequential &, again, he has NOT broken the law.

  2. Charles Johnson

    M Cockrell responds to my assessment of Roy Moore by complaining that I don’t specify what law it is that Roy Moore violated with his monument and the subsequent defiance of the court order. Cockrell then goes on to point out that Moore has the right to refuse unlawful orders. I think that that is true–see my post on Bill Pryor’s ridiculous position in this affair.

    But I cannot agree that the court order was illegal, or that Moore has not broken any laws. In fact I specifically address the issue; the problem is that M Cockrell apparently has only read this post and the comments section, rather than the other posts on Roy Moore that I forwarded. In particular, I discuss Roy Moore’s violation of the Religious Freedom article of the Alabama Constitution in Theocracy No Moore

    As it turns out, I also think that Moore is acting in violation of the First Amendment, as extended to the States by incorporation through the Fourteenth Amendment. Cockrell sees to think that the only religious freedom provisions in the Constitutions is the prohibition against religious tests in Article IV. But it is not: the Establishment Clause explicitly forbids any government establishment of an official Church. So, for example, it is unconstitutional for the federal government to maintain churches or synogogues or mosques or other places of worship at public expense; and under the Fourteenth Amendment it is also unconstitutional for state governments to do so.

    Do you agree or disagree with this reading of the effect of the First and Fourteenth Amendments taken together? If you don’t agree, then just what DO you think the Establishment Clause prohibits? If you DO agree, then what principled basis could there be for saying that it’s nevertheless O.K. for a state government to use tax dollars and tax-funded space to place and maintain a specifically religious monument that Moore explicitly identifies as an “acknowledgement” of the specifically Jewish and Christian God? (If Moore wanted to use tax dollars to place a giant Crucifix or a statue of the Blessed Virgin or an idol of Ganesh or an altar to Ba’al, would these be constitutionally legitimate? If so, why? If not, what’s the difference between such tax-funded worshipful displays and the tax-funded worshipful display of the Ten Commandments?)

  3. M Cockrell

    I will concede that the public tax dollars should NOT fund Judge Moore’s (nor anyone’s) religious pursuits, but I do NOT agree with your assessment that the monument establishes a religion. I don’t particularly like the idea that some of my taxes support what I would consider to be pornography (even though there are those claiming it to be art), yet I’m not allowed to withhold those monies. Unless Justice Moore is demanding worship of his God or compelling those that appear in his court to confess Jesus as their Savior, he has NOT established a religion.

    I have no problem with public space being used for the display of not only a “specifically” religious monument, but an historical one as well. The Chief Justice has the authority to decorate his/her court as they may choose, whether with The Ten Commandments, The Ten Most Wanted or David Letterman’s Top Ten. There is no rule or requirement to give equal time to contrary views or other “secular” pieces.

    So, again, Judge Moore was removed from office unjustly because he did NOT break any laws.

  4. Rad Geek

    M. Cockrell agrees that tax dollars should not fund Judge Moore’s (or anyone else’s) religious pursuits. But since Roy Moore has made it explicit that the purpose of the monument is to “acknowledge God,” and since “acknowledging God” is a paradigmatic case of a religious act, doesn’t that ipso facto mean that tax monies are going to support Moore’s religious pursuit? And if so, doesn’t that mean that Moore ought to have removed the monument?

    Of course, what Moore ought to have done is not necessarily the same thing as what Moore can lawfully be ordered to do. I’m not clear from what you say whether or not you intend to make this distinction; but you might argue that Moore ought to remove the monument, but that the federal court has no authority to order him to remove it, because while Moore’s monument constitutes a taxpayer-funded religious pursuit on Moore’s part (and thus is the wrong thing to do) it does not constitute the establishment of a religion (and thus it does not violate the First Amendment). Again, I do not know whether this is your argument or not; so I am putting it forward as a possibility rather than imputing it to you. But if this is your argument, I can’t see how you could reasonably endorse it in light of what the “establishment of religion” means. An established Church is not necessarily one whose religious convictions the citizens of a State are required to endorse (the United Kingdom, for example, has an established Church — the Church of England — but there’s no legal penalty for not endorsing the CoE’s views, and in fact relatively few Britons do endorse its views anymore). The reason that the Church of England is an “established church,” rather, is because it is funded by the government of the United Kingdom, and endorsed by the government of the UK as its official Church. I take it that that is what the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment was written to avoid: the use of tax funds (which citizens have no choice about paying) to support religious institutions such as churches (of various denominations), mosques, or synagogues. So I can’t agree that “Unless Justice Moore is demanding worship of his God or compelling those that appear in his court to confess Jesus as their Savior, he has NOT established a religion.” Rather, any use of what Moore himself aptly called “the power of the sword” to require citizens to fund religious institutions is a violation of the Establishment Clause. And if the Ten Commandments monument is not a religious institution, then what in the world IS it?

    Finally, whether or not this is the correct interpretation of the First Amendment, I repeat that it is absolutely false to claim that “So, again, Judge Moore was removed from office unjustly because he did NOT break any laws.” As I discuss in Theocracy No Moore, Moore’s monument violates the religious freedom provisions of the ALABAMA STATE CONSTITUTION whether or not it violates the federal constitution. Those provisions explicitly require:

    That no religion shall be established by law; THAT NO PREFERENCE SHALL BE GIVEN BY LAW TO ANY RELIGIOUS SECT, SOCIETY, OR DENOMINATION, OR MODE OF WORSHIP; THAT NO ONE SHALL BE COMPELLED BY LAW TO ATTEND ANY PLACE OF WORSHIP; NOR TO PAY ANY TITHES, TAXES, OR OTHER RATE FOR BUILDING OR REPAIRING ANY PLACE OF WORSHIP, or for maintaining any minister or ministry; that no religious test shall be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under this state; and that the civil rights, privileges, and capacities of any citizen shall not be in any manner affected by his religious principles.

    (emphasis added)

    If Moore’s use of taxpayer funds to put up a monument to a document found only in the Holy Scriptures of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, then isn’t that a preference given by law to some religious sects over others?

    If Moore uses the power of the state to place the monument in a part of the Supreme Court building that people are COMPELLED to enter and pass during the course of court proceedings that they may be COMPELLED BY LAW to attend, isn’t that compelling people by law to attend a place of worship?

    If Moore uses tax monies to build and repair a monument whose explicit purpose is — according to Moore — to “acknowledge God,” isn’t he requiring the taxpayers of the State of Alabama to pay a tax to build and mantain a place of worship?

    (You might object that plopping a monument to the Ten Commandments in the rotunda doesn’t make it a place of worship. This doesn’t actually undermine the first point — since it is still a preference in law for those religions that accept the Ten Commandments as the Law of God over those that do not. But I can’t endorse this counterargument to the second two points anyway. It seems obvious to me that “acknowledging God” is an act of worship, and any use of a religious monument to evoke such an act is, ipso facto, creating a “place of worship.” If you don’t find this wholly convincing, think of what you’d say if Moore proposed to place a giant Crucifix, or a statue of the Blessed Virgin, or an altar to Ba’al, or an idol of Ganesh, in the rotunda of the Supreme Court building…)

    So, again, I agree that Moore has every right to defy illegal court orders, because no court has the authority to issue an illegal order. But I do not agree that Judge Thompson’s order was illegal; it seems to me to have been a very clear application of the religious freedom provisions of both the Federal and State constitutions.

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Anticopyright. This was written in 2003 by Rad Geek. Feel free to reprint if you like it. This machine kills intellectual monopolists.