MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Protesters hoping to keep a Ten Commandments monument (search) in the state judicial building marched on Attorney General Bill Pryor's office Tuesday, demanding he resign for abiding by a federal court order for the marker's removal.
About 150 monument supporters marched from the judicial building to the nearby statehouse to meet with Pryor, but were met by 10 state police blocking the door. Seven representatives were allowed inside to meet with Pryor's chief deputy for about 20 minutes.
The rest of the group remained outside, chanting, "Resign now! Resign now!"
The 5,300-pound monument remained in the rotunda of the judicial building, where Chief Justice Roy Moore (search) installed it two years ago. A federal judge has held it violates the constitution's ban on government promotion of religious doctrine and gave Moore an Aug. 20 deadline to remove it.
When Moore refused, associate justices, supported by Pryor, ordered it out. On Friday, Moore was suspended on charges of violating canons of judicial ethics for refusing to obey the court order, and Pryor will oversee his impending prosecution on the ethics complaint.
Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition (search), accused Pryor of political grandstanding to aid his nomination to a federal appeals court. It has been stalled by Senate Democrats who attacked the Republican Pryor for stands against abortion and in favor of states' rights.
Pryor has said it is his duty to uphold a federal court order to remove the marker.
"Bill Pryor should be protecting the citizens of Alabama instead of campaigning to get confirmation to the 11th Circuit," Mahoney said.
Protesters also hoped to keep the monument in place at least until Wednesday, when a hearing is set for the last-ditch lawsuit they filed seeking a temporary restraining order.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court in Mobile says forced removal would violate the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion.
Pryor's office filed a motion Tuesday afternoon to dismiss the lawsuit, saying the Mobile court lacks jurisdiction and the complaint lacks merit. The motion said that while the associate justices may disagree with the federal court order to remove the monument, the suit wrongly was brought against them for complying with the order.
Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (search), said the lawsuit relies on "outlandish legal arguments to defend the justice's blatant promotion of religion in the state's judicial building."
In a brief speech Monday, Moore told a cheering crowd he would fight to return to his elected position and said the case against him is based not on something he did wrong but because "I've kept my oath."