Suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is scheduled to go on trial Nov. 12 on ethics charges stemming from his refusal to obey a federal judge’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building’s rotunda.
In setting the date Thursday, the Court of the Judiciary refused a request by Moore to delay the trial until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on his planned appeal in the monument case, which could take weeks or months.
Moore faces six charges of violating Alabama’s canons of judicial ethics for defying a federal judge who said the 5,300-pound monument was an unconstitutional endorsement of religion by government. The state Supreme Court’s eight associate justices voted to move it to a private area of the judicial building last month.
Moore plans to file his appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday. He contends the monument is a proper acknowledgment of God and the federal court has no authority to tell a state’s chief justice to move it.
Attorney General Bill Pryor, whose office is prosecuting Moore, issued a statement saying he was pleased with the November trial date.
The judicial court’s order Thursday warned attorneys not to enter any motions designed to stall proceedings, a warning apparently directed at a Moore attorney, Terry Butts, for making comments about disqualifying some members of the court.
Butts said asking judges about potential biases is a matter of “routine due process.”
“I think I have the right at the appropriate time to ask any member of this panel, `Have you discussed this case with anyone, or made comments about Roy Moore or the Judicial Inquiry Commission?”‘ Butts told the judges.
In a case over another Ten Commandments monument, a federal judge in Madison, Wis., set aside her July decision finding a monument in downtown La Crosse to be unconstitutional.
U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Crabb said she erred when she made her decision without hearing from the Fraternal Order of Eagles, a private club that bought the land surrounding the display from the city.
But Crabb, who had ruled in July that the sale was a sham, said chances were slim that the Eagles’ challenge would be successful.