Alabama's Ten Commandments Monument
Usually this blog covers election law and campaign finance issues, but a minor theme is "politicians in trouble with the law." I think the time has come for me to consider Chief Justice Roy Moore such a poltician in trouble. Here's the story to date for those who missed it. Moore got elected to the Supreme Court on the basis of his fame as the judge who put the Ten Commandments in his courtroom (he was a circuit judge at the time). After he was installed, he and a religious group designed, financed, created, and copyrighted a granite monument (usually described by the Birmingham public radio station as "washing machine-sized") depicting the Ten Commandment on an open book and the four sides of the monument contain quotes from Founding Fathers and other political leaders regarding the influence of God on America. Here is a picture of the monument at a website devoted to defending Moore.
Three lawyers brought suit against the monument. Private groups provided the attorneys who defended Moore, although the Attorney General of Alabama obligingly appointed them as "special assistant attorneys general." The Federal Court in Montgomery issued an injunction against the monument. The injunction has been stayed while an appeal to the 11th Circuit is pending. The plaintiffs' attorneys have now filed a request for payment of their fees, totalling over $700,000. Guess who will pay that fee when it is awarded? The people of Alabama and not Justice Moore or his erstwhile defenders.
Now this prospect has caused lots of editorial opinion and letters to the editor denouncing the idea that Moore is costing the State court system money (In addition to the $7 million deficit the court are facing this year). On the other hand, there are lots of letter writers explaning that the First Amendment does not apply to the states, does not prohibit an ackowledgement of God, etc. Here is one editorial from the Montgomery Independent, a weekly in Montgomery.
Will the good people of Alabama turn against Moore if he loses his appeal and costs the State even more money? Don't count on it.