Man of the Year: Roy Moore

Uttering the standard liberal cliché a few years ago, Richard Reeves described “representatives of the new South” as “Republicans of old Puritan definition, righteous folk afraid that someone, somewhere, is having fun.” (I’ll skip the context of Reeves’ insight, except to note that apparently aging liberals view sodomy with the chubby intern in the back office as “having fun.”) Like all beliefs universally held by liberals, Reeves’s aphorism is the precise opposite of the truth. It’s the blue states that are constantly sending lawyers to the red states to bother everyone. Americans in the red states look at a place like New York City—where, this year, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade featured a gay transvestite as Mrs. Claus—and say, Well, I guess some people like it, but it’s not for me. Meanwhile, liberals in New York and Washington are consumed with what people are doing in Alabama and Nebraska. Nadine Strossen and Barry Lynn cannot sleep at night knowing that someone, somewhere, is gazing upon something that could be construed as a religious symbol. Ten Commandments It’s never Jerry Falwell flying to Manhattan to review high school graduation speeches, or James Dobson making sure New York City schools give as much time to God as to Mother Earth, or Pat Robertson demanding a crèche next to the schools’ Kwanzaa displays. (Is it just me, or is Kwanzaa becoming way too commercialized?) But when four schools in southern Ohio have Ten Commandments displays, sirens go off in Nadine Strossen’s Upper West Side apartment. It will surprise no one to learn that the ACLU promptly sued and the schools are now Ten Commandments-free. From the Chelsea section of Manhattan, the gay executive director of the ACLU, Anthony Romero, tossed and turned all night thinking about the Ten Commandments display on the Elkhart, Ind., Municipal Building, which had been there, without incident, since 1958. The ACLU sued and the monument was hauled off. In Ohio, Richland County Common Pleas Judge James DeWeese had a framed poster of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom. The ACLU sued and the Ten Commandments came down. Compare that to the late New York judge Elliott Wilk, who famously displayed a portrait of Communist revolutionary Che Guevara on his office wall. (Che, Castro, Hussein—evidently the only bearded revolutionary these people don’t like is Jesus Christ.) And yet, no one from Ohio ever sued Wilk. The ACLU got word of a Ten Commandments monument in a public park in Plattsmouth, Neb. (pop. 7,000), and immediately swooped in to demand that the offensive symbol be removed. Not being from New York, the people of Plattsmouth didn’t want to litigate. Soon cranes were in the park ripping out a monument that had sat there, not bothering anyone, for 40 years. ACLU busybodies sued Johnson County, Iowa, demanding that it remove a Ten Commandments monument that had been in a public courtyard since 1964. Within a year, the 2,500-pound granite monument was gone. Moore Didn’t Fold Barry Lynn’s “Americans United For Separation of Church and State” sued little Chester County, Pa., demanding that it remove a Ten Commandments plaque that has hung on the courthouse wall since 1920. The alleged legal basis for removing all of these Ten Commandments monuments is the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment. That clause provides: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” The vigilant observer will note instantly that none of the monuments cases involve Congress, a law, or an establishment of religion. Monuments are not “laws,” the Plattsmouth, Neb., court-house is not “Congress,” and the Ten Commandments are not a religion. To the contrary, all three major religions believe in Moses and the Ten Commandments. Liberals might as well say the Establishment Clause prohibits Republicans from breathing as that it prohibits a Ten Commandments display. But over the past few years, courts have ordered the removal of dozens of Ten Commandments displays. Only the attack on Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s Ten Commandments got national attention. And it was a newsworthy event: When liberals attacked, Moore didn’t fold. The ACLU began its onslaught against then-Etowah County Circuit Court Judge Moore in 1995, when an ACLU lawyer, apparently depressed that he was not chosen to play Mrs. Claus in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade that year, wrote a letter to all the state judges in Alabama protesting their practice of having a prayer in the courtroom every few weeks. (Obviously you can’t have prayer in court: It might distract all the people holding their hand over a Bible and swearing before God Almighty to tell the truth.) Everything had been going just fine in Alabama—no defendant had ever complained about the practice—but upon receiving a testy letter from the ACLU, all the other Alabama judges immediately ceased and desisted from the foul practice of allowing prayer in court. Judge Moore did not. ACLU Bullying For resisting the ACLU’s bullying, Moore became High Value Target No. 1. Soon the ACLU and their ilk were filing lawsuits and anonymous ethics complaints against Moore. The ACLU, along with the Southern Poverty Law Center, sued Moore for having a Ten Commandments plaque in his courtroom. (Poverty had been nearly eliminated in the South until a poor person happened to gaze upon Moore’s Ten Commandments—and then it was back to square one.) Another judge found that the Ten Commandments plaque violated the 1st Amendment. Apparently, in a little-noticed development, Judge Moore had become “Congress,” his Ten Commandments plaque was a “law,” and the plaque established a national religion. The Taliban had better legal justification to blow up centuries-old Buddha statues in Afghanistan. The then-governor of Alabama, Fob James, responded to the inane ruling by saying he’d send in the Alabama National Guard if anyone tried to take down Moore’s Ten Commandments. That’s all it took. The Alabama Supreme Court backed off from a confrontation with the governor by dismissing the ACLU’s suit on technical grounds. James went on to reelection as governor, and Moore won election as chief justice of the state Supreme Court. Liberals reacted to the overwhelming popularity of the state officials who resisted the ACLU by accusing them of stirring up the Ten Commandments dispute as a publicity stunt. The president of the Alabama ACLU said “the whole thing is political” and the officials were using it as an election issue. The ACLU sued, and for not surrendering immediately, Moore and James were media-whores. Inasmuch as the Ten Commandments turned out to be extremely popular nationwide, claiming Moore was a publicity hound became the left’s rallying cry. As Time magazine described Judge Moore’s wily ploy: “Sessions of Congress open with prayer, the attorney general holds prayer meetings each morning in his office, the Supreme Court routinely asks that ‘God save the United States and this honorable court.’ All that seems required for such conduct to persist unchallenged is not to call attention to it.” (Emphasis added.) Just don’t call attention to it? That strategy didn’t work out so well for Johnson County, Iowa; Plattsmouth, Neb.; Elkhart, Ind.; and dozens of other towns, schools and courthouses across the nation that have been forced over the last few years to remove their Ten Commandments displays. Yet according to Time, Judge Moore has been on a “crusade” since—in Time‘s own words—”he defended his right to display” the Ten Commandments. Thus, the magazine continued, “it should have surprised no one” when Moore installed the Ten Commandments monument in the courthouse lobby and “forced a showdown by refusing to remove it.” In other words, he defended himself from one ACLU lawsuit and then—as if that weren’t enough—he did not instantly surrender when the ACLU filed a second lawsuit! That guy sure knows how to get publicity. Indeed, Moore maintained his disagreement with the ACLU’s interpretation of the Constitution as creating a universal ban on God right up until he was out of a job. A lot of conservatives said Moore was wrong to refuse to comply with the court’s idiotic ruling. Conservatives keep trying to play fair in the faint hope that, someday, liberals will play fair too. Note to conservatives: That will never happen. The conservative argument for enforcing inane court rulings is that the only other option is anarchy. But we are already living in anarchy. It’s a one-sided, Alice-in-Wonderland anarchy in which liberals always win and conservatives always lose—and then cheerfully enforce their own defeats. Oh, you see an abortion clause in there? Okay, I don’t see it, but we’ll enforce it. Sodomy, too, you say? Okay, it’s legal. Gay marriage? Just give us a minute to change the law. No prayer in schools? It’s out. Go-go dancing is speech, but protest at abortion clinics isn’t? Okie-doky. No Ten Commandments in the courthouse? Somebody get the number of a monument removal service. What passes for “constitutional law” can be fairly summarized as: heads we win, tails you lose. The only limit on liberal insanity in this country is how many issues they can get before a court. If a federal judge can issue an opinion premised on the finding that Chief Justice Moore is “Congress,” why can’t Moore, in his capacity as “Congress,” tell the judge he’s impeached? But we can’t do that, conservatives say, because that’s not really what the liberals mean. And if we don’t give liberals everything they want, when they want it, it will lead to anarchy. Apparently the only thing standing between a government of laws and total anarchy is the fact that conservatives are good losers. If we don’t obey manifestly absurd court rulings, the argument goes, then liberals won’t obey court rulings when they lose. Point one: They almost never lose. Point two: They already refuse to accept laws they don’t like. They do it all the time—race-discrimination bans, bilingual education bans, marijuana bans. If you don’t let them win every game, they walk off with the football. Liberals disagreed with the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore and consequently refuse to allow the President to appoint judges. (And consider that the media consortium recount has now proved that under any recount ordered by any court or requested by any party in Bush v. Gore, Bush would still have won Florida.) Texas Democrats fled rather than accept lawful re-districting. Frank Lautenberg entered the New Jersey Senate race after the deadline when it became clear the Democrats’ lawful candidate was going to lose. Clinton openly perjured himself, hid evidence and suborned the perjury of others rather than obey court rulings. So we had better take down those Ten Commandments pronto—otherwise liberals won’t respect the rule of law! The perfect example of liberal fair play comes from Chief Justice Moore’s own case. The great conservative attorney general of Alabama, Bill Pryor, openly disagreed with the court’s ruling in the Ten Commandments case. But he said, as attorney general, he would have to enforce it. His nomination to a federal appellate court is still being blocked by Senate Democrats—because, they say, he won’t enforce laws he disagrees with. No way will they let Pryor through. So that’s worked out well. But someday, perhaps, liberal hearts will be warmed by conservative magnanimity and they will start playing fair, too. We’ve been waiting for that result for 40 years. Of course, it’s easy for me to say conservatives should start ignoring the unending barrage of inane court rulings: I am not a government official, so I don’t have to do it. I don’t even have to talk to liberals and I know how tiresome that can be. But if I were a man rather than part of the frivolous, nonproductive chattering class, Roy Moore is the man I’d like to be. He lost his judgeship because he did what was right. He took an oath to uphold the Constitution, not to uphold whatever blather a liberal judge manages to put on paper. He followed the real law, not liberals’ make-believe law. He put principle above his personal interest or comfort. He was actually brave—and this is the only newspaper in the country that will say so. The Ten Commandments monument was removed, but this time, not without a fight. Judge Moore photo by Carrie Devorah