Judge: Commandments Must Go

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A federal judge in Montgomery ruled Monday that a Ten Commandments monument installed in Alabama's Judicial Building by the chief justice violates the constitution's ban on government promotion of religion and must be removed.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson gave Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore 30 days to remove the 5300 pound granite monument from the rotunda of the state building. The monument was installed on the night of July 31, 2001.

Moore testified during last month's trial that the commandments are
the moral foundation of American law. He said the monument acknowledges God, but does not force anyone to follow his religious beliefs.

Morris Dees, lead counsel and co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, urged Moore to remove the monument immediately.

Neither Moore nor his lead attorney, Stephen Melchior, had any immediate comment on the ruling. In the past, they have indicated they
would appeal an order to remove the monument.

One of Moore's supporters, Alabama Christian Coalition President John Giles, said he was shocked that Thompson would order the monument removed. He said he believes there may be a backlash against the ruling in Alabama, a Bible Belt state in which Moore won easily two years ago.

Another Moore supporter, Dean Young, executive director of the Gadsden-based Christian Family Association, called the ruling a case of ``a liberal federal judge standing up and saying we can't acknowledge God in our courtrooms.''