Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore may have lost his position on the state high court, but he might not be giving up on elective office just yet. Recent reports say Moore is considering a run for the U.S. presidency.
Addressing a gathering of the far-right Constitution Party in Lancaster, Pa., Jan. 24, Moore was asked if he would consider running for president. He replied, "Not right now" but refused to rule out entering the race at a later date.
Jessica Atteberry, a Moore spokeswoman, later told WorldNetDaily.com, a right-wing news site, that Moore wants to regain his seat on the Alabama high court and that decisions about running for higher office will come after that matter is settled.
Moore made national headlines last summer after he defied a federal court order to remove a two-and-a-half-ton Ten Commandments monument he had placed in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building. A state judicial oversight body later voted unanimously to remove him from the court. Moore is appealing that vote, and the matter is pending before a special panel of state judges.
Americans United, the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama and the Southern Poverty Law Center sponsored the lawsuit against Moore on behalf of Alabama plaintiffs.
Remarking on a possible Moore candidacy, Atteberry said, "Anything is possible. However, until the appeal process has been run through, he'll make no decision for political office."
Since being ousted from the Alabama court, Moore has been making the rounds on the Religious Right lecture circuit, where he has been received with wild enthusiasm. His address to the Constitution Party was part of a series of lectures before conservative Christian groups. The fringe party, founded by longtime ultra-conservative operative Howard Phillips, was on the ballot in 41 states in 2000. The party, which espouses a form of fundamentalist Christian theocracy and argues that America was founded to be a "Christian nation," would seem to be a good match for Moore. (Herb Titus, a member of Moore's legal team, ran for vice-president under the party's banner in 1996.)
At least one analyst thinks Moore would have broad appeal among conservatives.
"If he can get on talk shows and stir up conservative voters he could easily get significantly more than the usual third-party vote totals," Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News, told WorldNetDaily.
Wall Street Journal columnist John Fund later wrote that a Moore candidacy could hurt President George W. Bush by siphoning away the votes of religious conservatives. Fund reported that associates close to Moore say the ex-judge is split between running for president this year or laying the groundwork to run for governor of Alabama in 2006.
Prior to his appearance in Pennsylvania, Moore told the Lancaster Intelligencer Journal that the controversy over the Ten Commandments monument has been hard on him.
"When I lost my job, I lost my income, I lost my health insurance, I lost my retirement account and I lost my benefits," he said. "I lost my place of work. I lost many things. It's been difficult."
Moore has also recently appeared at speaking engagements in Annapolis, Md.; Harrisonburg, Va. and Atlanta. In Harrisonburg, where he spoke at James Madison University, Moore was coy about a presidential run, commenting, "I wouldn't believe everything you read in the paper."
At least one Religious Right activist seems willing to back Moore. William J. Murray of the Religious Freedom Coalition issued an e-mail bulletin in early February asserting that many conservatives are angry with Bush and looking for an alternative.
"If Judge Roy Moore runs for President for the Constitution Party he will get millions of social conservative votes from Christians that are just plain tired of the 'Islam is a Religion of Peace' mantra that comes from the White House," Murray charged. "If Moore runs, Bush cannot win. This has led House and Senate Republicans to begin distancing themselves from the President."
Meanwhile, a new display that includes the Ten Commandments among other documents has been placed in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building. Acting Chief Justice Gorman Huston has approved the display, which also features other sources of Western law, among them the Magna Carta, the Code of Justinian and the U.S. Constitution. The display includes a 31-page booklet that explains how each document helped shape Western law.
Some federal courts have held that displays like this are permissible, since they are intended to educate about the sources of the law, not endorse religion.
Ironically, Moore is no fan of the new display.
"First, they hid the word of God in a closet, and now they tried to hide it among other historical documents," he told the Associated Press. "Neither is an acknowledgment of God, and they know it."