MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A federal judge said Friday that the state of Alabama is in compliance with his order requiring the removal of a Ten Commandments monument (search) from the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building (search).
The 5,300-pound monument that Chief Justice Roy Moore (search) installed two summers ago was moved Wednesday and is now inside a locked storage room off an employee lunchroom, Attorney General Bill Pryor said in a conference call Friday with U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson.
"We told the court that we had verified the monument was moved and are satisfied the state is in compliance with the court order," said Richard Cohen, an attorney for plaintiffs who sued to have the monument removed.
The judge told attorneys he would issue an order later Friday declaring the state in compliance, according to Cohen, of the Southern Poverty Law Center (search).
More than 1,000 supporters of the monument and Moore rallied on the steps of the building Thursday, the largest crowd since the two-week vigil over the monument began.
Christian radio host James Dobson (search) told the crowd that their fight is about "an unelected, non-accountable, arrogant, imperialistic judiciary determined to shove their beliefs down our throats."
A group that sued to have the monument removed said Dobson and other religious leaders were trying to fan the United States into a full-scale culture war.
"It won't work," said Barry Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State (search). "Very few people have any interest in starting political fights with their neighbors over religion."
Moore skipped the rally, saying he wants the fight to be about the public acknowledgment of God -- not about him.
Thompson ruled last year that the monument, when it sat in the building's rotunda, violated the Constitution's ban against government promotion of religion. Moore refused to comply with the order to move it, was overruled by his eight colleagues on the court, and was suspended on ethics charges.
Moore plans to file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court next month and has pending a petition asking the court to stop Thompson from enforcing his order.
Pryor has defended the associate justices' decision to overrule the chief justice. Moore has been critical of them all, as well as of Gov. Bob Riley, a fellow Republican.
On Thursday, rally speakers under a hot sun promised political retaliation.
"I don't think it's nearly as hot for us here as it's going to get in the political climate of Alabama for all of those who have cooperated with this federal judge," said former presidential candidate Alan Keyes.