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August 7: Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore Explains Why He Feels The Ten Commandments Belong in the Alabama Courthouse

This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, August, 7 2003  that has been edited for clarity. Click here to order a transcript of the entire show.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST : There's a battle going on in an Alabama courthouse over the Ten Commandments (search). Chief Justice Roy Moore placed a monument to the Ten Commandments in the Alabama judiciary building more than two years ago and he has been fighting a legal battle to keep them there ever since. Earlier this week, a federal judge ordered the chief justice to remove the monument by August 20. But is the fight over? Chief Justice Roy Moore joins us now. Sir, thank you very much for being here with us live in New York.

CHIEF JUSTICE ROY MOORE, ALABAMA SUPREME COURT: Thank you.

COLMES: Are you going to remove it by August 20?

MOORE: Well, I am going to make an announcement on what I plan to do on next Thursday.

COLMES: You won't say it here on HANNITY & COLMES?

MOORE: No, I think I better not.

COLMES: Do you know what you're going to do?

MOORE: I know what I'm going to do.

SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST : I know what he's going to do. I'm guessing.

COLMES: Would you take this all the way to the Supreme Court? Is this...

MOORE: Well, I am going to take this to the Supreme Court, but that's not...the question is whether I'll remove the monument. The petition, first of all, doesn't have to be filed until the end of September.

COLMES: Why are you doing this? And why did you...when you put it there, it was all reported that it was in the dead of night, that you know, and why must there be a two-ton monument and why in the dead of night?

MOORE: Well, that's a very good question. It's one I appreciate you asking. It's because the press have reported it was the dead of night; it was scheduled to go in at 6:00, after the work day so people wouldn't be injured by moving a two and a half ton granite monument into a building, and we couldn't get it in because the monument company didn't deliver it in until 9:30.

But the press keeps on this dead of night simply to confuse the issue in this case, which is can the state acknowledge God.

COLMES: All right, why are you doing this, and why is it so important for you to have the state acknowledge God? Because, I mean, if you certainly have firms beliefs, as I know you do, you can do it anywhere you want, you can do it at home, you have a church. Why is it so important for you to make this statement on state property?

MOORE: Because as chief justice of Alabama, I'm sworn to uphold the Alabama Constitution. I'm the chief administrative officer of the justice system. And our justice system is established invoking the favor and guidance of almighty God. It says, 'we the people of the state of Alabama, in order to establish justice, invoking the favor and guidance of almighty God.' When the federal judge says I cannot acknowledge God, I can't do my job.

COLMES: So you say acknowledging God is part of your job.

MOORE: Absolutely.

COLMES: Does that mean that if you're an atheist or someone who doesn't believe in God, you cannot be a judge in Alabama?

MOORE: There is no requirement to acknowledge God to be a state official. But when you take an oath to swear, to uphold that constitution and you don't acknowledge God, you judge for yourself.

HANNITY: Hey, Judge, thank you for being with us. I think you're taking a great courageous stand. I admire what you're doing. I'm assuming I know where you're going. Just...just go down my path here. I'm assuming you're not removing those Ten Commandments. I'm assuming that. Let's assume I'm right. What will happen next?

MOORE: Well, if that were the case, then on August 20, the judge would shortly thereafter set a hearing for contempt, I presume.

HANNITY: Could you be...could you end up in jail for this?

MOORE: Well, that's up to the judge, of course. He's indicated that he would assess fines against the state, which I think is a terrible way to enforce your will on the state in violation of the Tenth Amendment.

HANNITY: Let me ask this, I really firmly believe that there is a movement afoot right now in this country to remove all reference to God in the public square, that I don't think they want 'in God we trust' on U.S. coins, 'one nation under God' in the pledge. If they could go back and rewrite Thomas Jefferson's declaration, they'd have 'endowed by their creator' taken out. You have pointed out historically that these are our roots, this is our foundation, this is where our law...

MOORE: It's not only that. It's our organic law. Under the United States...today, if you look up the Declaration of Independence (search), it's listed as the organic law of our country. It's there we find that God gave us our rights, our life, our liberty, and the government's role is to secure those rights for us.

HANNITY: Well, Mr. Chief Justice, I agree with that. Do you think the courts above you will agree with you?

MOORE: I think the courts throughout the history of this country have agreed that God is the foundation of our law. For example, in 1961, in Miguelian v. Smerla, it was said the institutions of our society are founded upon the belief that there is an authority higher than the authority of the state, that there is a moral law which the state is powerless to alter, and that the individual possesses rights conferred by the creator which the government must protect.

HANNITY: I wouldn't want to go up against you in court.

All right, so this is going to go forward here. This...why is this a case so important? If you were to capitulate here, what would happen? What do you think the net effect would be if you got rid of the Ten Commandments?

MOORE: Well, I think the net effect of capitulation on an issue like this is to allow the federal courts to continue to come into the state and take away the states' rights. You see, it's right of the state to establish justice. It's the Tenth Amendment (search). The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution nor prohibited by it to the states are reserved to the states.

HANNITY: And what's so important here is that in the constitution in Alabama, this is very straightforward.

MOORE: That's right. Almighty God is acknowledged, and there's a reason for that basis of a justice system. It gives people the freedom of conscience and it also gives people the freedom to be prosecuted not according to what they think but according to what they do.

HANNITY: What is the reaction to you? I mean, there are some people that are against you, obviously. But the overwhelming reaction to you is pretty positive, isn't it, in the state of Alabama?

MOORE: Yes, it is. Yes, it is. But this is a matter of constitutional law, it's the matter of the First Amendment, it's a matter of the Tenth Amendment, and people need to know what this issue is. It's about the acknowledgment of God. Can we do that?

HANNITY: All right, but now that you've been told to remove it, I'm assuming you are not going to remove it. What is the next court level you get to? Because if you try to take it to the Supreme Court, you know and I know how difficult it is for them to accept a case.

MOORE: Right. I mean, it's up to the Supreme Court. But there is a good reason for them to...this case, a very good reason. It's the fact that no judge has said the Alabama Constitution is unconstitutional, and I'm sworn to uphold it.

HANNITY: Absolutely. You're just doing your job.

MOORE: This judge says simply that we can't acknowledge God.

COLMES: Chief Justice, one of the things reported about you, and tell me if this is accurate, is that at a certain point in your career, you invited ministers in to offer prayers during jury organizational sessions.

MOORE: That's true.

COLMES: But were there people of all religions, were they Islamic (search), members of the Islamic faith, were there Jews (search), were there other...

MOORE: No. But I had no objection to inviting a Jewish minister in...or a Jewish rabbi. The fact is, in Adaval County, this has been going on continuously before I took office and after I took...it's going on today. They traditionally have the churches from the area send a pastor in to open the jury session with prayer.

COLMES: Did you invite people from other faiths beside Protestant (search)? Were their Catholics (search)? Were there...

MOORE: We've invited people from around. I couldn't tell you all the people we've invited over the period of eight years while I was on the bench.

COLMES: Is there a higher law than the Constitution of the United States? Do you believe the Constitution is subservient to a higher law to which we must all answer, legally in this case?

MOORE: We're sworn to uphold the constitution. That constitution is based upon the laws of nature and of nature's God, according to James Madison, Federalist 43, January 23, 1788, when he said the first question can be answered at once by recurring to the absolute necessity of the case, to the great principle of self-preservation, because the transcendent law of nature and of nature's God.

COLMES: Is there ever a conflict between what it says in the U.S. Constitution and what that higher law says?

MOORE: I find no conflict.

COLMES: No conflict whatsoever?

MOORE: I find no conflict, no.

HANNITY: Mr. Chief Justice, I will never debate you on the law, ever, you have encyclopedic knowledge. Best of luck to you. Thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

MOORE: My pleasure.

COLMES: Appreciate it, thank you, Mr. Chief Justice, thank you for being here.

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