Supporters of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore have been handcuffed and led away from the Ten Commandments monument in Montgomery. They had refused to leave the monument after Moore lost an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday afternoon.
The federal judge who ordered the monument's removal is now expected to consider a contempt of court finding on Friday. That could set the stage for the monument to be removed or fines to be imposed on the state.
Scores of Moore supporters sang and prayed outside the building as about twenty inside were removed from the rotunda. It wasn't immediately known if they would be charged by Montgomery police.
Associate Justice Douglas Johnston issued a statement saying he had proposed moving the monument to a private area of the judicial building after 6:00 p.m. He said that would avert any fines while Moore pursues appeals that could take months.
But Johnston said fewer than five of the justices concurred, and his proposal was not approved. The associate justices have indicated they may take action later.
"This is not about a monument. It's not about religion or politics. It's about the acknowledgement of God," said Moore on ABC's Good Morning America Wednesday.
The controversy surrounding the Ten Commandments received similar support from Choctow County residents.
"I think it should stay," said Roy Washington in Butler Wednesday.
"I think they should keep it, not take it away," said Nancy Adams. "I just think that is wrong."
"It's about values and today our children are not taught values and that is why our crime rate is so high," said Ruby Nettles.
Of the people NewsCenter 11 talked to in Butler, only one said the Ten Commandments should be removed.
"One of those Ten Commandments is 'don't take the Lord's name in vain' and that's what this is about, vanity," said Jim Evans, an attorney.
The issue revolves around a contentious issue, does the religious- based monument violate the Constitutional separation of Church and state?
To U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson, it did. He ordered the sacred rules be removed by midnight Wednesday. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, but Justice Moore, who installed the monument two years ago, does not.
"We have no intentions of moving the monument and we have appealed to the United States Supreme Court to prevent this judge's order from taking effect," Moore said early Wednesday.
But later the high court said it would not delay the removal while Moore's appeal is pending. Meanwhile, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley supports the issue politically but is keeping his distance.
"It is in Judge Moore's hands now," Riley said.
For now, the deadline stands. If the monument is not removed by midnight the state could face a $5,000 a day fine.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.