Alabama’s “Ten Commandments Judge” Roy Moore has made it official: He will run for governor in 2006.
The announcement is the latest twist in a long-running saga over Moore, a great favorite of the Religious Right who insists that religion is the basis of all law.
Moore gained notoriety as a local judge in Etowah County in 1997 when he refused to remove his personally hand-carved Ten Commandments plaque from his courtroom. Moore used the media attention he received during that fracas to launch a successful electoral bid to become chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in November of 2000.
But Moore’s tenure was short lived. In July of 2001, Moore, without consulting with fellow justices, arranged to have a 2.5-ton Commandments monument brought into the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building. State residents, represented by Americans United, the Amer\xadican Civil Liberties Union of Alabama and the Southern Poverty Law Center, promptly filed suit.
Moore lost in federal court, but defied the ruling and vowed not to remove the monument, which led to his ouster from the Alabama high court. Since then, Moore has become a folk hero to many in the Religious Right and frequently travels the country speaking at right-wing gatherings.
Moore flirted with a presidential bid on a third-party ticket in 2004 but ultimately declined to run. For months, rumors swirled that he would challenge incumbent Alabama Gov. Bob Riley (R). Moore made the race official Oct. 3.
Moore made the announcement in Gadsden, the community where he work\xaded as a local judge during his first Com\xadmandments bout. In an effort to expand his base and move beyond the religious symbol issue, Moore unveiled a huge poster outlining his platform. It calls for applying term limits to state legislators, blocking legalized gambling, increasing fines on businesses that employ illegal aliens, opposing the political influence of teachers’ unions and ending tax reappraisals of property.
Asked if he would display the Com\xadmandments in the governor’s mansion if elected, Moore replied that he has no plans to relocate the granite monument from its current home at a Gadsden church.
“But I’ll tell you what I will do,” Moore added. “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.”