This is a partial transcript from Hannity & Colmes, August, 21 2003 that has been edited for clarity.
SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Last night, Chief Justice Roy Moore (search) told us right here on HANNITY & COLMES that he would fight to keep a monument of the Ten Commandments (search) inside the Alabama state judicial building, despite a federal court order to remove it.
Thousands now have rallied and are rallying in support of Judge Moore, including our next guest.
Joining us from Montgomery, Alabama, is former presidential candidate, our good friend, Ambassador Dr. Alan Keyes.
How are you, sir? Welcome back. It's been awhile. We missed you. Good to see you again.
DR. ALAN KEYES, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's good to be with you, Sean. Thank you.
HANNITY: You've got thousands of people vowing to lay down and try and prevent any effort to remove this monument from that building. Where does it stand right now?
KEYES: Well, right now, in the course of the day, as you probably know, the eight associate justices have taken action to overrule Judge Roy Moore and have ordered the removal of the monument. As yet, no action has, in fact, been taken. But that is where things stand at the moment.
HANNITY: Yes, but we have two things that happened in the last, what, 24, 36 hours, ambassador. One, the Supreme Court refused to block the removal of this. And also, Judge…Chief Justice Roy Moore's colleagues have come out against him and asked that they remove this monument expeditiously, which was a big disappointment to him.
KEYES: Well, I think it was. Though, of course, he anticipated the fact that we have been watching as folks in the state hierarchy showed that, what I think is real cowardice, in defense of the right of the people of the state of Alabama to acknowledge God in and through their state institutions as the Constitution provides, free from federal interference, free from federal meddling and intervention. That's what the First Amendment in its first clause is, in fact, all about.
HANNITY: Yes. I don't know …I can't see really fully behind you as you are right outside the judicial building there. How many people are there now?
KEYES: I'm really not sure. I just arrived. It looks like a goodly crowd that has gathered for the evening rally. It's actually now starting to be a nightly event.
HANNITY: Yes. I want to ask you this question here.
Our Declaration of Independence…and you know this. You're a great scholar of this nation's history. They speak of God, they speak of natural rights. Our founders similarly speak of God, they speak of natural rights.
If it's a natural-right issue, if our rights come from God as the Declaration says, ambassador, then Justice Moore is correct in saying he should stand against courts when he's wrong. Correct?
KEYES: Well, see, I think the great problem in the first instance, though, Sean, and the problem I have most of all that is Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. That is to say…and some people say that means they can't establish religion. No.
It means they can't address this issue. They can't touch it. It is very clear. Those words are simple. No law respecting this issue.
And when people say you're breaking the law if you don't do what this court says, I say, ‘Where is the law? What law?’ Do judges now get to have dictates? Are we under a dictatorship of the bench where they outlaw our foundation and they can simply tell you what to do?
HANNITY: Let me ask you this, quick. And I can hear the sound of the crowd. It sounds pretty enormous there.
Is there not a concerted effort or a campaign to replace God-given rights, if you will, with man-made privileges here? Isn't that what they're ultimately saying, that there's a choice here?
If the effort begins here, if this is a watershed mark, is it not ‘in God we trust’ in coins, ‘one nation under God’ in the pledge, Congress can't start with a prayer, God save the court, all of these things now go away?
KEYES: Sean, I think that we have to focus, though, on the clear constitutional issue.
At the national level there is no doubt we are not supposed to have any kind of national, uniformly imposed regime with respect to religion. And Congress shouldn't make any laws, the federal government has no lawful basis for doing so. That was clear in the founders' statements and intentions.
They wanted these issues to be handled at the level of the state governments and the level of the people themselves in and through their state governments. They were to decide to what extent they would acknowledge God, in what way, in what manner they would do so in and through their government institutions.
ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Hey, Alan...
KEYES: What we're seeing is an effort to impose a uniformed national regime of atheism on religious matters and that is deeply constitutionally...
COLMES: I don't know how you get from a decision not to allow the Ten Commandments to sit there to imposing atheism. That's quite a leap.
But welcome to the show. It's good to have you back. It's been a while.
Look, also, one man doesn't get to decide. You have the associate justices, who have now overruled Justice Moore and they say, and I quote, that "they are bound by solemn oath to follow the law, whether they agree or disagree with it."
Aren't they right? Don't they have an oath to follow the law? If a higher court says you must do this, doesn't it mean they have to obey?
KEYES: Well, as usual, you're not listening.
COLMES: No, no, that's a cheap shot, Alan. That's a cheap shot.
KEYES: Let me finish.
COLMES: That's a cheap shot. And it's unfair.
KEYES: Can I finish, Alan?
COLMES: Yes. I was listening. Go ahead.
KEYES: No, because you need to address the issue I raised.
You keep saying respect for the law. Respect for the law does not mean respect for lawyers. And the rule of law does not mean the rule of lawyers and judges. It means the rule of law. They, too, are bound by law. They, too, are required to have a basis in law for what they do.
And when people say some law is being broken here, I say what law? He's a federal judge. He needs a federal basis for what he's doing. But Congress can make no law respecting an establishment of religion.
He has no grounds, no basis whatsoever from which to address this issue. He's a lawless judge, taking his opinions from out of the air, not on the basis of the law, and imposing them against…not because I disagree.
COLMES: Because you disagree. Now you're filibustering, Alan. And you're accusing me of not listening. This judge is not listening to a higher court. And he's not even listening to his associate justices on his own state Supreme Court. He's the one not listening.
KEYES: He's listening to the constitution of the state of Alabama and the Constitution of the United States, which he is sworn to uphold and which, by the way, the governor and even the president and everybody else is sworn to uphold and preserve, protect, and defend.
And that Constitution is clear…the federal government should not meddle in these matters. The Tenth Amendment (search) leaves them under the purview of the states.
The whole train of legal precedent that has been fabricated fraudulently from the bench has no basis in our Constitution, and to say we must simply submit to baseless dictation from the bench is, as Jefferson himself pointed out, to surrender to judicial despotism.
COLMES: I'd like to ask you this. How is it, as you've just accused, and you're quoted by the Southern Baptist group, you accuse these people who want the Ten Commandments plaque removed, of promoting atheism? What is that? Because you don't believe that you should establish a plaque or a symbol in a courtroom you're promoting atheism?
KEYES: No. Did you read the decision?
COLMES: Yes. Yes, I did.
KEYES: Because in the decision…let me finish…in the decision, the judge himself says that the issue is whether the state can acknowledge God. That's what he says. I didn't make that up. He says that that's the core issue and he says the answer is no. He is imposing, through his order, this atheism and he has said so himself.
So you say I'm inventing it because you haven't looked at the clear, plain words.
COLMES: You're wrong. Again, you're making a false accusation.
KEYES: You need to look at the clear, plain words of the Constitution.
COLMES: I've looked at it. And here's what the decision said. If you adorn the walls this way, should you adorn them with murals with decidedly religious quotations? Should every government building be topped with a cross, a menorah, a statue of Buddha? Where do you draw the line? How many monuments of Ten Commandments should you have? If you have one, can you have 12? Can you have 14 other symbols?
KEYES: Excuse me. Alan…Alan, the clear issue is he says whether the state can acknowledge God. My clear question, based on the Constitution is whatever arcane disagreements you want to get into, the Constitution said this is not a matter for the federal government.
KEYES: It is a matter for the people in their state government.
HANNITY: Hang on.
KEYES: And they can have this debate. They can have this argument.
COLMES: Taking your argument, Alan, that only the state, not the federal government, can make decisions having to do with religion, does that mean a state could decide that they are a Christian state, a Muslim state? Could Alabama say we are going to declare ourselves a Christian state or an Islamic state because we can't be interfered with by the federal government? Would that be constitutional?
KEYES: When the First Amendment (search) was written and adopted, there were, I believe, 7 of the states that had the Church of England established. There were 5 other religions that were established in other states. There was one state that did not have an established church. There were varying degrees and extents of what this meant and how they implemented it.
But in point of fact, it was in place at the time and, yes, the founders did mean that one could go even as far as England has gone if that was. Now, that wouldn't be the will of anybody in America today, you can bet, but it shows the extent to which this amendment was meant to countenance on the part of the people of a state an expression of the desire to see reflected in the laws and the institutions their religious beliefs.
I'm not saying it. This was the way it was when the amendment was written.
COLMES: Your view and interpretation is that the state can declare itself a particular religion.
But here you have a chief justice that is being disagreed with by his own associate justices. They are saying this is wrong. They want to obey the law. They're telling him he is not obeying the law. These are other people on the state level who don't agree with you or Justice Moore.
KEYES: Excuse me for saying so, but I think it's time we got away from this way of believing, that we live under arcane priesthood of lawyers and that we don't use our own common sense and eyes when we read the documents of our country's history.
We should not turn over our liberties to arcane interpretations and fabrications by a legal clique that desires to amass great power over our lives and tells us what we should say. That despotic dictatorship was predicted by Thomas Jefferson and he said that we should reject it and we must now.
HANNITY: Ambassador, I want to ask you this question. Explain how the Ten Commandments provides the basis for America's jurisprudence. Explain that.
KEYES: It seems to me quite clear. As a matter of fact it was acknowledged by the founders that the Ten Commandments are the 10 basic and simple rules. What do we need to know?
"Thou shalt not steal." That's laws against theft. "Thou shalt not kill." Laws against murder. "Thou shalt not bear false witness," the whole apparatus that exists in our courts and in our lives to guarantee testimony in courts will be truthful and where, by the way, throughout history the oath has been "so help me God."
It seems to me we are trying to destroy the moral foundation evident in every age of our history and let a clique, a handful of people, rob us of to the collective right we have to see our…the acknowledgment of God.
HANNITY: We are rejecting the moral underpinnings of our society which our founders…there's no ambiguity when you read our founders. There's no ambiguity in their writings. They were crystal clear.
What's more interesting, you and Alan were going back and forth over the issue of jurisdiction as it relates to is there any federal jurisdiction here. But the Alabama Constitution, which Chief Justice Roy Moore is sworn to uphold, clearly it says, as a matter of fact that the recognition of God is the foundation of that state's Constitution.
KEYES: Well, I think that that is very clear, and that means that as the chief justice…this is not just an individual. He's an elected chief justice. He has told the people of his state what he stood for, the Ten Commandments. He was known as the Ten Commandments judge when he ran. And he had an obligation to the Constitution...
HANNITY: And they elected him.
KEYES: He is actually a representative of the people of his state. He's not just an individual. And he has an oath that he has to abide by at the highest level of his state, representing the sovereignty in this matter of his people.
If he simply surrenders to the dictates of a federal judge on a matter where there is no clarity of federal jurisdiction, he...
HANNITY: One last question. Are you willing to go to jail? And I have to break.
KEYES: I have made it very clear. People say that Roy Moore will be threatened with jail. I will not let him stand alone, come what may.
COLMES: All right, Alan. Thanks very much for being with us.
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