Monday, August 25, 2003

Rights and Reason: In God I Trust

Alabama Judge Roy Moore explains his position in the Ten Commandments case in today's Wall Street Journal:

[W]e must acknowledge God in the public sector because the state constitution explicitly requires us to do so. The Alabama Constitution specifically invokes "the favor and guidance of Almighty God" as the basis for our laws and justice system. As the chief justice of the state's supreme court I am entrusted with the sacred duty to uphold the state's constitution. I have taken an oath before God and man to do such, and I will not waver from that commitment.

By telling the state of Alabama that it may not acknowledge God, Judge Thompson effectively dismantled the justice system of the state. Judge Thompson never declared the Alabama Constitution unconstitutional, but the essence of his ruling was to prohibit judicial officers from obeying the very constitution they are sworn to uphold. In so doing, Judge Thompson and all who supported his order, violated the rule of law.


The First Amendment says that "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." It does not take a constitutional scholar to recognize that I am not Congress, and no law has been passed. Nevertheless, Judge Thompson's order states that the acknowledgment of God crosses the line between the permissible and the impermissible and that to acknowledge God is to violate the Constitution.

Not only does Judge Thompson put himself above the law, but above God, as well. I say enough is enough. We must "dare defend our rights" as Alabama's state motto declares. No judge or man can dictate what we believe or in whom we believe. The Ninth and 10th Amendments are not a part of the Constitution simply to make the Bill of Rights a round number. The Ninth Amendment secured our right as a people. The 10th guaranteed our right as a sovereign state. Those are the rules of law.
Judge Moore speaks of individual rights in the same breath that he trashes them. Moore has an unquestioned right to place his monument to the Ten Commandments on private property. He does not have a right to place his monument on public property.

The basis for belief in the Ten Commandments is that they are an edict given to man by God, and that man must obey them or suffer God’s displeasure. Judge Moore specifically wants to use the statehouse to show what he believes is the link between the Ten Commandments and the constitution.

As the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals noted:

Thousands of people enter the Judicial Building each year. In addition to attorneys, parties, judges, and employees, every fourth grader in the state is brought on a tour of the building as part of a field trip to the state capital. No one who enters the building through the main entrance can miss the monument.
Yet there is no rational basis for belief in the Ten Commandments. They are not a refection of reasoned thought on the nature of man and his requirements of survival—such an analysis would reject intrinsic, other-worldly commandments out of hand. The Ten Commandments are an article of faith. The Founders were wise enough to recognize that while the freedom of individuals to their faith must be protected, the faithful do not have the right to use the power of government to establish their religion as the law of the land. In the public ream, reason must rule over all. The government and its agents have no place memorializing faith-based doctrine on public land.

Judge Moore has a right to his beliefs. He does not have the right to use the statehouse to transmit those beliefs to others.

No comments: