Posts Tagged ‘Ten Commandments’

I posted once and twice last week about the developments in Alabama. World Net Daily happily covered the drama and the Christian Soldiers (mainly Roy Moore) fighting against marriage equality and for judicial nullification (which is odd, considering that Roy Moore is a judge).

What happened on Thursday is that the plaintiffs in one of the counties where a probate judge was following Moore and not the federal ruling is that the US District Judge Callie Granade clarified her ruling and stated it applied to all probate judges. Most counties fell within a day or two, but there are still about a dozen holdouts praying that Moore is right.

What’s surprising to me is that there was nary a peep out of WND about that development. Nothing. After all their coverage in the week before it, there was not a single article nor news snippet about this for the past five days.


This is a long post, and a developing situation at that. I first became aware of Judge Roy Moore, the “Ten Commandments Judge,” a decade ago when I was in college. He refused to comply with a court order to remove a massive monument of the Ten Commandments from his courthouse, and because of that, he was stripped of his judgeship.

For this, he was made both into a martyr for the cause and something of a minor celebrity among the far-right who are über-religious.

Then, a little under a decade later, the (adjective removed) people of Alabama decided to elect him yet again to be the Supreme Court Chief Justice (of Alabama). Seems to me that a man who refuses to follow the ruling of the courts has no business being a judge.

And, he’s at it again. Specifically, the Federal court in Alabama ruled as every single other court (except the 6th Circuit) has for the past few years: the state ban on issuing marriage licenses to two people of the same gender is unconstitutional. Moore is all about nullification.

This post is made from several WND posts:

It is also made from several posts on other sites:

Really, that first news snippet lays out the entire initiation:

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has released a letter to Gov. Robert Bentley saying that he intends to continue to recognize the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and urging the governor to do so.

Moore’s office released the three-page letter that was delivered to the governor this morning in response to a federal judge’s ruling Friday striking down the ban.

“As Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, I will continue to recognize the Alabama Constitution and the will of the people overwhelmingly expressed in the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment,” Moore wrote.

The problem is that legally (by court precedent, by federal law, and, well, the results of the Civil War), federal law trumps state law. Federal courts trump state courts. Federal Constitution trumps state constitution. There’s something called the Supremacy Clause in the US Constitution about this. But, Moore seems to think that only the Supreme Court can void a state law: “Moore said court precedents from throughout the state’s history make it clear that only the U.S. Supreme Court can overturn the highest court decision in the state system, so Granade’s decision, and a temporarily delayed order implementing it, was out of line.” FYI, this particular District Judge was an appointee of former President George W. Bush.

Pretty much everyone disagrees with him. For example: “Ronald Krotoszynski, a constitutional law expert at the University of Alabama School of Law, said Moore’s words carry little legal weight, as federal constitutional law trumps that of states. “There is no credible legal argument that an order from a federal judge with jurisdiction over a matter isn’t binding on a state government,” he said.””

As a side bar, Moore founded a group called the Foundation for Moral Law. It’s now run by his wife. Officially, the group has not responded to Moore’s letter to the governor, though it has said this:

“Alabamians approved the 2006 Sanctity of Marriage Amendment by 81% of the vote,” she said, “and the will of the people should not be lightly discarded in favor of an alleged right that is found nowhere in the Constitution.” She added that the Foundation bears no animus toward the plaintiffs in this case or in any other: “Jesus loves them, and He died for their sins as well as for mine. But homosexual conduct is still sin, and we must stand firm for what is right.”

As another (completely gratuitous) side bar, Judge Moore’s son isn’t as clean-cut as his papa, as JMG pointed out on January 29. His Twitter feed was quickly made private, but that was after people grabbed screenshots of him writing such illuminating things as: “Happiest of days to you my man @Tcopeland4 may much poon come your way #birthdaybash2014” or “I would love to meet the folks who think they go harder than these niggas #thecrew @Tcopeland4 @woods457 @JLHrastamon @Kyul_Landers” And lots of pictures of him with lots of alcohol.

Back to the story … In response to Moore’s letter urging the Governor to ignore the federal court ruling, the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center) has filed a formal judicial ethics complaint against Judge Moore:

over his public statements urging the governor and Alabama judges to defy federal law and enforce Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriages. The complaint was filed with the Judicial Inquiry Commission of Alabama, which could recommend that Moore face ethics charges in the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. That court removed Moore from the office of chief justice 12 years ago after he refused to comply with a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building.

“Moore is once again wrapping himself in the Bible and thumbing his nose at the federal courts and federal law,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. “As a private citizen, Moore is entitled to his views. But as the chief justice of Alabama, he has a responsibility to recognize the supremacy of federal law and to conform his conduct to the canons of judicial ethics.”

JMG points out, “It was the SPLC’s 2003 complaint that first got Moore booted off the Alabama Supreme Court. He was reelected in 2012.”

At the same time as this, probate judges in Alabama were hoping for what the county clerks of Florida did, as well, but ultimately didn’t get: That maybe the Federal judge’s ruling would only apply to those particular plaintiffs and/or that particular county. No such luck, as the second JMG post I linked to points out: “Federal Judge Granade today clarified her ruling from last Friday, stipulating that it does indeed apply to all Alabama counties. […] Granade’s clarification cites federal Judge Robert Hinkle’s similar ruling in Florida.”

And, “The Alabama Probate Judges Association said it would follow her judgement.”

Moore, however, is not backing down. In response: “Alabama’s chief justice is telling probate judges that they are not required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite a federal judge’s decision overturning the state’s gay marriage ban. Roy Moore sent a letter Tuesday to probate judges, saying the judge’s decision isn’t binding on them.”

And, in response to that, the SPLC filed another ethics charge against Moore.

Besides interviews to such fair and balanced outlets as World Net Daily, he’s been on radio programs such as with Tony Perkins’ “Washington Watch” (Perkins is president of the Family Research Council), and with Sandy Rios on the American Family Association’s show. These may not help him if he is brought up, again, on ethics charges. This quote deals with his appearance with Perkins:

His latest appearance may turn out to be a gift to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which earlier this week filed a complaint against the Chief Justice after he first pledged to ignore pro-equality rulings. SPLC pointed out that Moore’s declaration constitutes numerous ethics violations, such as commenting on a pending case and encouraging lawlessness.

In his conversation with Perkins, Moore also lamented that the country no longer arrests and imprisons gays and lesbians, approvingly citing the 1986 case Bowers v. Hardwick, which legitimized anti-LGBT harassment by police. The FRC filed an antigay brief in the 2003 case Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned the Bowers ruling.

But, it’s not just the SPLC that is getting into this. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) has started a petition that demands the Judicial Inquiry Commission take action against Judge Moore.

I’m getting this post out today because tomorrow, Monday February 9, the stay on Judge Granade’s order is lifted, and probate judges must begin to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples or be in contempt of that court order.

This is another story that I think is better told by The Friendly Atheist and then going to WND for commentary. Otherwise, you lose the important context. Here are the three TFA posts that are relevant, from December 4 and 10, 2013:

Let’s review the basics: In the USA, the First Amendment to the US Constitution requires that the government remain religiously neutral, that they cannot establish or hold one religion above another. Of course, many Christians think that this is just a wink-wink-nudge-nudge that THEIR religion DOES get special treatment, and that no others may be held equal to or above it. But, what the First Amendment means, and what it has been time-and-again held to require by the court system, is that when one religion has a favored position, other religions MUST be allowed to have the same type of position, in equal prominence.

So right now, we have:

The Satanic Temple, an established New York City-based religious organization, has offered to donate a public monument to Oklahoma’s Capitol Preservation Commission for display upon Oklahoma City’s capitol grounds. Described as an “homage” to Satan, the purpose of the monument is to complement and contrast the Ten Commandments monument that already resides on the North side of the building. The donation offer has been submitted and is currently awaiting the commission’s reply.

Ten Commandments Outside the Oklahoma Capitol

Ten Commandments Outside the Oklahoma Capitol

TFA has an interview with the Satanic Temple at that first link, and I recommend reading it if you’re interested in this. In the second article, we have this:

A week after the Satanic Temple said they wanted to put up a monument outside the Oklahoma Capitol building (in response to a Ten Commandments monument already on the grounds), a Hindu group is following in their footsteps. […]

The lawmakers in Oklahoma brought this upon themselves. If they wanted a Christian monument, they should’ve known that others would ask for representation of their religious beliefs, too. I guess they didn’t anticipate that the requests would come from normally silent groups.

Moving on, I highly recommend reading the last in the list of TFA posts. I’ll quote just a bit that I liked the most:

When a Christian display is allowed on government property, you might as well take advantage of the floodgates being open and demand a display of your own. Along the way, if legislators decide to ban religious and non-religious displays altogether, that’s just too damn bad… and if they ban your display, it’s an easy victory in court.

Oklahoma legislators are aware that the Satanists want to erect their own monument and they have no clue how to respond, so they’re just putting their collective foot in their mouth and crying “Christian privilege!” left and right:

“This is a faith-based nation and a faith-based state,” said Rep. Earl Sears, R-Bartlesville. “I think it is very offensive they would contemplate or even have this kind of conversation.”

Yes, how dare non-Christian groups contemplate using their First Amendment rights?! It’s totally a faith-based nation… even though nearly 20% of Americans use no religious label and even though our Constitution says it wouldn’t matter if 100% of them did. […]

“It is not going to get approved here without a court battle,” said Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove. “I can assure you.”

… a statement no politician has ever said to a Christian group wanting to put a Ten Commandments monument.

“I am somewhat disappointed we are facing this sort of thing,” said Rep. Jeannie McDaniel, D-Tulsa. “We sort of knew this might happen. I know nothing of about this group. I have never heard of them. I think we opened the door and have to have a process to have it vetted.”

That may be the worst one of them all. We sort of figured other groups might want to take advantage of this opportunity, but I just can’t believe any of them actually did!

The story is almost good enough on its own, but this is the “WND Watch” blog, so what does World Net Daily think about it? They ended up doing two posts on the subject, but they were only the normal three-paragraph clips from other sources. The first was on December 8 from The Guardian, and the second was from ABC News and was posted on December 10: “Satanists Plan Statue Next to Ten Commandments,” and “Satanic Monument to Have Interactive Display for Kids?” The first has received 7 ratings (4.43/5) and 29 comments, and the second has garnered 5 ratings (3.80/5) and 17 comments.

Very, very surprisingly, the top-rated comment on the first post is by “American Standard” who got 19 up-votes and zero down-votes: “If you want faith in the public square you have to be prepared to accept all faiths in it.” What is a sane, reasonable, and competent comment doing on WND … and what is it doing as the highest-rated comment!? I’m actually thinking that the post was linked to on some popular atheist-leaning blog considering that all the top-rated comments are along this line.

We have to go down to comments like from “kingdad” with only 2 up-votes before typical WND thoughts start to come through: “I guess they might have the Right to do this, but that doesn’t make it right.
I would suggest the re-enactment of the opening Moments of the “Simpsons” Show where the two young men are disfiguring the “Big-uns” Statue. I’m sure such a lawless act of vandalism might be overlooked in this case. Since it is for the Public Good. That or a nightly egg toss to help decorate that Statue.”

Or, a comment from “Pi10107” with 2 up-votes: “I’m praying that lightning will strike the Satanists monument shattering it into tiny particles while leaving the Ten Commandments completely untouched.” And yet, the top-rated response to him was 7 up-votes and 1 down-vote, by “Shermer” who wrote, “I think you will be disappointed, but please keep us updated.”

On the second WND post, however, we get the typical WND thinking. “kingdad,” for example, has the highest-rated comment with 8 up-votes and 0 down: “Just another Satanic Object for Happy Pigeons to poop on! Dog’s to pee on! and People to Vandalize! Those Satanist will have to work overtime to keep that monument even standing much less free from fecal matter.”

Edited to Add (December 21, 2013): Another TFA post, pointing out that Oklahoma State Capitol officials have called a moratorium on all additional monuments. As Hemant put it, “we’re not saying yes or no to any of these other monuments because we’re already dealing with a lawsuit from the first one.” Though, “It’s interesting how the moratorium was declared now, even though the ACLU’s lawsuit was filed on August 20.”

Edited to Add (January 8, 2014): In “Satan Statue Unveiled for Oklahoma,” WND updates its readers.