In early August 2001, Roy Moore, Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, defied a Supreme Court ruling and smuggled what was deemed a religious monument into Alabama's state judicial building. Moore, a Christian fundamentalist, supervised the workmen who did the work, which took six hours, under the cover of dark. The two-ton monument has the Ten Commandments on it.
The Constitution separates the church and the state in America. Therefore, technically schools and other public buildings would be acting in an unconstitutional manner if they put any form of religious monument within them. This single issue of whether religious displays should be tolerated in public buildings has aroused huge controversy in America.
In May 2001, the Supreme Court maintained the rule that keeps church and state separate entities. The Supreme Court stated that public displays of the Ten Commandments remained unconstitutional. Therefore, Justice Moore is technically acting in an unconstitutional manner and breaking a Supreme Court ruling despite the fact that he is an important member of the judicial system in America.
Moore is no stranger to controversy. He was sued by civil liberty groups in 1994 for hanging a wooden plaque of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom. He has also stated that God and not governments give people rights and he wants God to be put at the centre of American life to restore standards to the nation.
What will the Supreme Court do? What can it do? It is unlikely that Alabama's governor will dismiss Moore as it would be too controversial and because the people of Alabama are likely to be sympathetic to Moore as this is a God-fearing state. It is probable that a compromise will occur as the monument also contains quotes from other sources and documents and Moore's supporters claim that the monument should be seen as a historical object rather than a religious one.