GADSDEN, Ala. – Roy Moore (search), who became a hero to the religious right after being ousted as Alabama's chief justice for refusing to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments (search) from the courthouse, announced Monday that he is running for governor in 2006.
Moore's candidacy could set up a showdown with Gov. Bob Riley (search), a fellow Republican, and turn the Ten Commandments dispute into a central campaign issue in this Bible Belt state.
Moore, 58, said that if elected, he has no plans to relocate the Ten Commandments monument from its new home at a church in Gadsden.
"But I'll tell you what I will do. I will defend the right of every citizen of this state — including judges, coaches, teachers, city, county and state officials — to acknowledge God as the sovereign source of law, liberty and government," he said.
In 2000, Alabama voters elected Moore as chief justice of the state Supreme Court, and the next summer he had a 5,300-pound granite monument of the Ten Commandments installed in the rotunda of the state judicial building. A federal judge ordered Moore to remove it as an unconstitutional endorsement of religion, but Moore refused.
His fellow justices had the monument moved to a storage site out of public view. And in November 2003, a state judicial court kicked Moore out of office for defying the federal court.
Moore took appeals all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court (search) and lost at every level.
Since then, he has traveled the country, speaking to church and conservative groups and promoting his book about the controversy, "So Help Me God." (search)
To those who have criticized him as a one-issue candidate, Moore said Monday that his main issue is summed up by his campaign theme: "Return Alabama to the people."
Moore signed a giant copy of his campaign platform that called for limiting legislators to three terms, barring lawmakers from holding two state jobs, ending annual tax reappraisals of property and imposing new penalties on businesses that employ illegal immigrants.