Glassroth v. Moore

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Glassroth v. Moore
Seal of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama.gif
Court United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama
Full case name Stephen R. Glassroth, Plaintiff, v. Roy S. Moore, Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Defendant. Melinda Maddox and Beverly Howard, Plaintiffs, v. Roy Moore, in his official capacity, Defendant.
Decided November 18, 2002
Citation(s) 229 F. Supp. 2d 1290 (M.D. Ala. 2002)
Court membership
Judge(s) sitting Myron H. Thompson

Glassroth v. Moore, CV-01-T-1268-N, 229 F. Supp. 2d 1290 (M.D. Ala. 2002), and its companion case Maddox and Howard v. Moore, CV-01-T-1269-N, concern then-Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy S. Moore and a stone monument of the Ten Commandments in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery, Alabama.

When Judge Moore was a lower court judge, he had become famous for his fights over the display of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom. Based on his popularity he was elected Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court

On August 1, 2001, Justice Moore had a 5,280-pound (2,400 kg) block of granite with the Ten Commandments engraved on it, installed during the middle of the night without the knowledge of the other Alabama Supreme Court justices.[citation needed]

A group of lawyers consisting of Stephen R. Glassroth, Melinda Maddox and Beverly Howard, who felt their clients might not receive fair treatment if they did not share Moore's religious opinion, and that the placement of the monument violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, filed civil suits in Federal Court against Justice Moore in his official capacity as Chief Justice to have the monument removed.

On November 18, 2002, the District Court held the monument violated the Establishment Clause. The following day, the District Court directed Moore to remove the monument from the building. That injunction was stayed pending appeal. The Court of Appeals affirmed the original decision on July 1, 2003.

After the decision of the Court of Appeals, Moore did not ask the court for a rehearing, nor did he request the Court of Appeals, to stay its mandate pending the filing of a petition to the United States Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari. On July 30, 2003, having received no request to stay the mandate, the Court of Appeals issued its mandate to the District Court. On August 5, 2003, the District Court entered its "Final Judgment and Injunction," and enjoined Chief Justice Moore, his officers, agents, servants, and employees and those persons in active concert or participation with him who received actual notice of this injunction from "failing to remove, by no later than August 20, 2003, the Ten Commandments monument at issue in this litigation from the non-private areas of the Alabama State Judicial Building."

On August 14, 2003, Moore stated publicly that he would not comply with the injunction issued to him by the District Court:

"As Chief Justice of the State of Alabama, it is my duty to administer the justice system of our state, not to destroy it. I have no intention of removing the monument of the Ten Commandments and the moral foundation of our law. To do so would, in effect, result in the [be a] disestablishment of our system of Justice in this State. This I cannot and will not do!"

On August 21, 2003, when Moore failed to comply with the August 5, 2003, Order of the District Court, the eight Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Alabama, issued an order recognizing that "[t]he refusal of officers of this Court to obey a binding order of a federal court of competent jurisdiction would impair the authority and ability of all of the courts of this State to enforce their judgments," and issued an order countermanding the "administrative decision of the Chief Justice to disregard the writ of injunction of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama" and ordered "that the Building Manager of the Alabama Judicial Building be, and the same hereby is, DIRECTED to take all steps necessary to comply with the injunction as soon as practicable."

A later case, McGinley v. Houston et al., in which another lawyer sued Gorman Houston, the Senior Associate Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and the other justices for removing the monument. The suit was dismissed on the grounds that removing a monument of the Ten Commandments does not constitute an establishment of religion.

Justice Moore would later be removed from office for judicial misconduct for failing to comply with the order of the federal court.

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