'Ten Commandments Judge' Roy Moore poised to return to Ala. court

March 14, 2012

c. 2012 Religion News Service
MOBILE, Ala. (RNS) With 98 percent of state precincts counted, Roy Moore held on
to 51 percent of the vote in his bid to retake his former job as chief justice
of the state's supreme court.

Moore received 279,381 votes to Mobile Judge Charlie Graddick's 139,673
votes (25 percent), and incumbent Chief Justice Chuck Malone's 136,050 votes (24
percent).

If Moore slips below the magical 50 percent mark once all precincts are
reported, he would face either Graddick or Malone in a Republican run-off on
April 24.

"I'm very happy at what we thought was going to happen. The people support
me. So many tried to disparage me," Moore said after the vote on Tuesday (March
13). "My opponents are very good men, qualified judges. I've never made any
disparaging remarks."

Moore is hoping to regain a position he lost in 2003 when a state panel
expelled him from office for failing to comply with a federal court order to
remove a 5,280-pound granite monument to the Ten Commandments that he had placed
in the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery.

Moore argued -- and continues to maintain -- that he had a right to
acknowledge God and that following the order would have been a violation of his
oath to the Constitution.

Moore went on to run for governor in 2006 and 2010 and lost. His name was
also floated as a presidential candidate in 2004 and 2008 for the Constitution
Party but he never ran.

Moore, 65, was poised to win his old job back despite getting badly outspent
by his two GOP opponents. "That should tell you something," he said, giving
credit to God.

Malone, the incumbent chief justice, said he believes Moore had an advantage
since he could devote his full attention to campaigning while the other
candidates have full-time jobs.

"At this point, we're not conceding anything," Malone said. "I knew (Moore)
would do well. I didn't expect it would be at this level. He's run five times
statewide. I know name recognition has a lot to do with it."

Graddick said the vote is close enough that it could change when the final
results are in. "If it does, we're prepared to hit the ground running, and if it
doesn't, I'll call Judge Moore and congratulate him," he said.

Attorney Harry Lyon is running as the Democratic candidate for chief
justice; voters will decide between Lyon and the final Republican nominee in
November, but the GOP winner is widely expected to be the favorite.

In an attempt to sidestep any lingering controversy over the Ten
Commandments monument, Moore promised repeatedly throughout this campaign that
he would not try to bring it back if elected.

On the campaign trail, Moore also downplayed his open defiance with the
federal court that ordered the monument removed.

"I can't envision a set of circumstances or an order that would cause me to
be in conflict with a higher court," he said. "This is the only conflict I've
had with a higher court, and I can't envision another conflict."

Moore sought to make the race about his experience running the court system
during a financial crisis. He depicted himself as a steady hand who had
previously guided the judiciary through difficult budget cuts.