Moore's Ten Commandments ordered to be removed by August 20
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has two weeks to remove the 5,280-pound display of the Ten Commandments from the state judicial building rotunda. U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson, who last November ruled that the display was unconstitutional, made good yesterday on his promise to issue a 15-day removal order once the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Moore's appeal.

The 11th Circuit affirmed Thompson's decision in July. The decision immediately sparked a series of responses in Alabama. Moore said he would take the case straight to the U.S. Supreme Court. Christian groups encouraged civil disobedience and nonviolent protests to block the monument's removal. And the Alabama House passed a bill prohibiting U.S. marshals from removing the display.

In response to the actions to protect the monument, Thompson carefully worded his order yesterday. "It is the initial obligation of the State of Alabama, not this court and not any federal official, to remove the monument," Thompson said in his eight-page order. "The court, at this time, does not envision a scenario in which there would be an opportunity for any physical confrontation between federal and state officials or between federal officials and anyone else."

Thompson suggested that monument be moved to a private office in the state judicial building. The state judicial building houses the Alabama Supreme Court chamber and offices of appeals court judges.

Because Thompson is placing the responsibility to remove the monument on Moore and state officials, he also set a consequence if it is not out of the rotunda by August 20. In his order, Thompson wrote that the state of Alabama would face "a fine of $5,000 a day for the first week…with the amount of the fine perhaps to double at the beginning of each and every week thereafter." The Birmingham News reports that the order was delivered to the governor, attorney general, treasurer, state comptroller, and director of the administrative office of courts.

A spokesman for Moore has called the removal mandate an act of "judicial tyranny."

The day before Thompson's order, Moore filed a brief statement with the court anticipating a removal notice. Moore said in the two-paragraph statement that Thompson, as a federal judge, has no authority to demand the monument's removal because Alabama's constitution permits the acknowledgement of God by the state.

This is the argument that Moore plans to make to the Supreme Court. Last week Moore said in an interview with The Birmingham News thathe is "pretty confident" that the U.S. Supreme Court will review the case. But precedent is not in favor of Moore. The court has recently denied hearing similar Ten Commandments cases from Kentucky and (two from) Indiana.

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