Commandments Battle to Cost Taxpayers $500,000

Ousted Chief Justice Roy Moore's (search) fight to keep a Ten Commandments monument in a courthouse rotunda will cost Alabama taxpayers nearly $550,000, officials said Wednesday.

The state reached a settlement to pay $500,000 in attorneys' fees and about $49,000 in expenses to lawyers for three organizations that sued Moore.

Under the terms, Americans United for Separation of Church and State (search) receives $190,000, the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama $175,000, and the Southern Poverty Law Center $135,000.

Moore was removed from the bench in November for refusing a federal judge's order to remove the 5,300-pound monument he installed in the summer of 2001. He is appealing.

Though Moore paid for lawyers to argue against his removal, the cost of his defense of the monument fell on taxpayers. "It certainly would be the right thing for Justice Moore to assume this liability," said Danielle Lipow, an attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center (search).

Jessica Atteberry, a spokeswoman for Moore, said the three groups used the monument case to raise money for themselves, and the attorneys were already getting salaries.

"The taxpayers of Alabama should not be taxed on this," she said.