Roy Moore announces candidacy in Alabama gubernatorial race

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    Associated Baptist Press
    October 5, 2005 (05-98)

    Roy Moore announces candidacy in Alabama gubernatorial race
    By Robert Marus
    GADSDEN, Ala. (ABP) -- The "Ten Commandments Judge" is back and is aiming for a higher Alabama office than the one from which he was fired two years ago.
    Roy Moore announced Oct. 3 that he was running for governor in his home state of Alabama. His colleagues on the Alabama Supreme Court removed Moore from his job as chief justice in 2003, after he openly defied a succession of federal court decisions. The courts had said
    Moore's action to place a Ten Commandments monument in the Alabama judicial headquarters building in Montgomery was unconstitutional.
    Moore's decision to run in the 2006 election means he will likely go head-to-head with current Gov. Bob Riley, who is a conservative and a Southern Baptist, in the Republican primary.
    Announcing his candidacy in Gadsden, near his home, the 58-year-old Moore said he wouldn't try to bring the monument back to a government building. It now sits in the narthex of an evangelical Protestant church in Gadsden.
    "But I'll tell you what I will do," he said, according to news reports. "I will defend the right of every citizen of this state – including judges, coaches, teachers, city, county and state officials --
    to acknowledge God as the sovereign source of law, liberty and government."
    Moore, a Republican, was elected to head the state's judiciary in 2000, after gaining fame for refusing to remove another tribute to the Decalogue from the wall of his courtroom as a county judge in rural Alabama. In the summer of 2001, he installed a two-ton granite monument,
    featuring the Protestant King James version of the commandments, in the center of the judicial building's rotunda. The installation took place without the permission or knowledge of Moore's colleagues on the court.
    A group of Alabama attorneys sued Moore for violating the First Amendment's ban on government establishment of religion. Federal courts at every level agreed with them, and ordered Moore to remove the monument.
    Moore refused to do so, contending -- as he had in the lawsuit over the monument itself -- that his oath of office required him to "acknowledge God" and that the monument was his way of doing so.
    A state judicial-ethics panel removed him from office for refusing the federal orders. Alabama Gov. Bob Riley and then-Attorney General Bill Pryor, both fellow Republicans, supported that decision, which was upheld by both a specially appointed state Supreme Court and the federal
    Supreme Court.
    Riley spokesman Jeff Emerson, in a statement released after Moore's announcement, said much of the former judge's proposed platform echoes the current governor's.
    "It appears Roy Moore is campaigning on an agenda that echoes the same positions Gov. Riley has already taken," he said. "Most of the issues Roy Moore outlined were detailed in Gov. Riley's 'Plan for Change' back in 2002, and Gov. Riley has worked ever since then to implement them."
    Besides the religious component, Moore's announced platform includes term limits for state legislators and immigration reform.
    Riley angered some of the state's conservatives in 2004 by endorsing an effort to reform the state's constitution and tax code, which many economists have said perpetuates poverty in Alabama. A wide array of Alabama's religious and other special-interest groups endorsed
    tax reform as a way to provide relief to poor and middle-class people. But some conservative groups -- including the state affiliate of the Christian Coalition -- feared it would have made it easier for legislators to raise taxes.
    Despite its broad official backing, tax reform was easily defeated by voters. Polls at the time showed that Moore could easily beat Riley in a hypothetical gubernatorial match-up.
    But one Alabama resident said the idea of Moore as governor reminded him of a darker period in Alabama history.
    "I can say safely that it would be the most tragic thing I can see for the state, to have him represent this state," said Jon Broadway, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. "It would make [late Gov.] George Wallace look like a distinguished gentleman."
     

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