The Alabama circuit judge famous for posting the Ten Commandments in his courtroom is one step closer to the state's highest court. And he promises to make a place for the Decalogue in the state Supreme Court if he is elected chief justice. Judge Roy S. Moore, who serves a circuit in northeast Alabama, defeated three other judges June 6 to become the Republican nominee for state Supreme Court chief justice. Moore won 56 percent of the primary vote. His strongest challenger, state Supreme Court Associate Harold See, attracted 29 percent of the vote, even though he outspent Moore 3-to-1. The two other candidates received 8 and 7 percent. Moore faces Democrat Sharon Yates, a Court of Civil Appeals judge, in the November election. Observers give Yates little chance of overcoming Moore's popularity in a state well-known for its religious conservatives. Moore, 53, was thrust into the national spotlight five years ago when he refused to remove a hand-carved Ten Commandments plaque from his courtroom wall. A local atheist group, backed by the Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, sued to have Moore remove the plaque, but a federal judge ruled the plaintiffs had no standing in the case. Moore has since received both praise and scorn for his actions. After his primary victory, Moore reiterated his right as a government official to acknowledge God.
"What I stand for is the proper interpretation of the law as the Founding Fathers intended," he says. "The acknowledgment of God was never prohibited by the First Amendment."
John Giles, president of the Christian Coalition of Alabama, says many Alabamians could identify with Moore and his strong religious convictions. The group's exit polls found that "81 percent of Alabamians are conservative ...1