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House Offers Support for Alabama Judge in Ten Commandments Dispute

March 06, 1997| From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The House threw its support Wednesday behind an Alabama judge who has refused to remove a Ten Commandments plaque from his courtroom and has asked for military protection against those trying to take it down.

The resolution, adopted 295-125, said the Ten Commandments should be permitted in government offices and courthouses because they are "a declaration of fundamental principles that are the cornerstones of a fair and just society."

Opponents of the measure said Congress had no right to intervene in a matter best left to the courts and churches and that the House should be dealing with more substantive issues.

The measure, which is not binding, was introduced by freshman Republican Rep. Robert B. Aderholt of Alabama on behalf of Judge Roy S. Moore of Etowah County, Ala.

Moore is involved in a two-year dispute over his display of a wood carving of the Ten Commandments in his courtroom and his practice of opening court sessions with prayer.

The American Civil Liberties Union argued in the lawsuit that Moore's courtroom religious practices violate the Constitution's required separation of church and state. Montgomery County Circuit Judge Charles Price agreed, ordering Moore last year to halt the court prayers. Price later ordered Moore to remove the plaque as well. The Alabama Supreme Court has stayed Price's ruling while it decides Moore's appeal.

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