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AU wraps up case against Ala. Ten Commandments judge. (People & Events).

AU Legal Director Ayesha Khan traveled to Alabama in mid October to spearhead Americans United's lawsuit against Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who last year arranged to have the Ten Commandments displayed at the state Judicial Building.

Americans United and the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama filed suit against Moore in federal court after he secretly arranged to have a two-and-a-half-ton granite sculpture of the Ten Commandments placed in the lobby of the courthouse in Montgomery, the state capital.

Moore has been on a Ten Commandments crusade for years. As a circuit judge in Etowah County, he displayed a hand-carved Ten Commandments plaque and was criticized for opening some sessions with prayer. A lawsuit filed over that display was dismissed on a technicality.

The incident made Moore a hero to the Religious Right, and he used the notoriety he garnered to win election as chief justice in November of 2000. About eight months later, Moore had the Commandments placed in the Judicial Building. Moore took the action unilaterally and did not consult with his fellow justices. In fact, he waited until the building was empty and then helped workers bring the monument in.

Moore has several allies in the Religious Right. Florida TV preacher D. James Kennedy, for example, has repeatedly used the lawsuit against Moore to raise money. The ministry even sold videos of Moore placing the monument in the public building. In October Kennedy sent out a mailing asserting that Moore had been badgered by attorneys with AU and the ACLU during "a grueling two-day deposition."

Kennedy begged for contributions, writing, "The stakes are huge in this battle. For if the public display of the Ten Commandments can be banned, then your freedom and mine to express our faith in public is suddenly at terrible risk of being curtailed by the state!"

Other religious leaders take a different view. On Aug. 21, national and state clergy joined forces to file a legal brief, asking the court to declare Moore's display of the Ten Commandments unconstitutional.
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Title Annotation:Americans United
Publication:Church & State
Geographic Code:1U6AL
Date:Nov 1, 2002
Words:340
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