Last edited: February 14, 2005

Letter: Moore Lacks Faith in the Constitution

Birmingham Post Herald, March 22, 2002
2200 N. 4th Avenue, Birmingham, AL 35202
Fax: 205-325-2410

The word "sin" has no place in a legal opinion, just as the Ten Commandments have no place in a courtroom. When Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore took office, he took an oath to uphold our Constitution. However, he refuses to uphold the Establishment Clause. In a recent child custody case, Moore referred to homosexuality as "a sin" and cited Genesis and Leviticus to support his belief that homosexuality "violates both natural and revealed law." Moore is also in the midst of litigation because he will not accept that the Ten Commandments cannot constitutionally be displayed in a court house in the manner he insists upon.

Moore’s refusal to uphold the U.S. Constitution, and to follow the Supreme Court’s holdings, raise serious doubts about his fitness to be a judge. It is not for a judge to tell us what the Bible requires of us. That is a job for our religious leaders, families and our individual consciences. The purpose of the Establishment Clause is simple. It is intended to protect religion from these intrusions from the government. Many people of many faiths do not believe homosexuality is a sin. It is both unconstitutional and intolerant for Moore to endorse one set of religious beliefs from the bench.

Moore’s duty in hearing the child custody case was very narrow: it was to ensure the courts of Alabama appropriately applied the laws of the state to protect the best interests of the children involved. Their best interests are not served by extraneous religious instruction on what the justice perceives is the evil nature of their mother’s relationships. Religious education is a job for parents, not judges.

Sadly, these issues go beyond Moore. Under Alabama law, homosexuality is still considered criminal. Moore’s opinion illuminates the unfortunate history of discrimination that underlies such laws. As the chief justice himself points out, these laws are a remnant of a time when the government in Britain imposed an established religion on their country. Our country was founded to put an end to such government intrusions.

It is time for Alabama to change these laws. It is also time for the people of Alabama to insist on a judiciary that upholds the U.S. Constitution as fervently as the laws of the state. It is ironic that a judge who prides himself in having so much faith, has so little in our Constitution. If he cannot uphold his oath of office and the Constitution of the United States, he has no place on the bench. Perhaps Judge Moore should judge less.

— Deborah M. Lauter, Southeast regional director
Anti-Defamation League
One Securities Centre, 3490 Piedmont Road, N.E., Suite 610, Atlanta

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