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Judge Roy Moore: Ten Commandments & the Law

Moore's Beliefs, Decisions, Reactions


Roy Moore is a genuine celebrity for the Religious Right in America — his perpetual court cases over his various displays of the Ten Commandment have become a popular cause for fundamentalists around the country. Because of this, the court cases involving Moore play an important role in the relationship not only between church and state, but also between separationists and America’s religious right.

It is, therefore, important to have a better understanding of who Roy Moore is, what he believes, and the history of his various court cases and legal battles. The Religious Right certainly focuses on him as a key to their efforts to “reclaim” America, whatever the cost, so it is worth learning a bit about this situation.


Roy Moore’s Beliefs
Perhaps the most important and fundamental idea of his, one which plays a role in his other beliefs and in his actions, is that America is a Christian Nation. At a Christian rally in Tennessee in early 2002 he told supporters that the United States was founded as a Christian nation and that Christians should “take back our land.” He then went on to say:

Judge Roy Moore’s Anti-Catholicism
Recently a number of conservative Republicans complained that Democratic Senators had been using religious tests which effectively prohibited devout Catholics from being appointed as federal judges. It was suggested that the Democrats were engaged in anti-Catholic discrimination. Why haven’t we heard similar complaints bout Judge Roy Moore in Alabama?

Judge Roy Moore’s Court Battles
What has Moore done which has caused so much controversy and attracted so much attention? He has done two things, basically: he posted a hand-carved wood plaque of the Ten Commandments in his court room, and he opened court sessions with prayers led by a local clergyman.

Who Cares?
Does it really matter if Roy Moore opens his court sessions with prayers, places a plaque of the Ten Commandments in his courtrooms, or installs a massive monument to the Ten Commandments in Alabama Judicial Building? Are any of these actions really unconstitutional? The answers to both questions is an unqualified Yes.

Reactions to Roy Moore
Moore has received quite a lot of support from across the nation. Thousands have shown up to hear him speak about his ideas and his legal battles. Hundreds of thousands have signed petitions supporting him. On the other hand, many others — including many religious leaders and legal scholars — have opposed his efforts and said that he is wrong.

Glassroth v. Moore (2002)
Roy Moore installed a huge granite monument to the Ten Commandments in Alabama, saying that their presence would help to remind people that God was sovereign over them and over the laws of the nation. A District Court, however, found that his actions were an obvious violation of the separation of church and state, ordering him to remove the monument.

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