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Roy Moore Speaks at Church of the Apostles in Atlanta

Aired September 7, 2003 - 11:20   ET


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: We want to tell you a little bit about something we've been keeping our eye on this morning, and that is Chief Justice Roy Moore, you know him from the Ten Commandments debate and whether that monument should be in the courthouse. As you know, it has been removed. He is speaking here in Atlanta at the Church of the Apostles, a live shot there now that you see on your screen.
We want to bring in Jayne Weintraub and Michael Smerconish one more time as we look at this. In fact, maybe we will listen in with him. We'd like to do that first. All right, we'll listen in to Chief Justice Moore for just a moment once he begins speaking here, any minute.



MOORE: Thank you. What a beautiful place this is. What a beautiful crowd you are. When I walk into a crowd like this, I think that heaven must look like this someday, only much, much more magnified. I'm very honored to be here. I'm watching the video that I haven't seen for several months. I realize that the questions you may have, well, what's happened now, the courts have ruled against this. Well, we are pursuing this in the United States Supreme Court in September, and we have a petition for a writ of mandamus before the court now, and have not been ruled upon. And we're waiting to go before that court.

But something else has happened. This isn't a human thing. This is a God thing. And God is opening up the hearts of men and women across this nation and around the world concerning this issue. When they took that monument and put it in a closet and turned the key, God laughed in heaven because they thought they could contain him in a closet.


MOORE: I want to say thank you very much to Pastor Yousef and his wife for the wonderful hospitality they've shown us. I regret my wife is not here. She had to stay home with a sick child. I do have my daughter somewhere that's going to help me with the presentation. And we're very honored to be here. He's been so kind and hospitable.

Which, you know, I didn't think it would be that way yesterday. I came into Atlanta and saw the Auburn Tigers at Georgia Tech. And I knew this was going to be much more difficult than I assumed, but, you know, with all that controversy I still had to find something that we had in common, something that I could talk about to explain what's happening in our country to you. And I got it last night as I drove back from a reception back to the hotel and I looked on both sides of the road, and I know you know what I'm talking about, there were cows everywhere.


MOORE: I saw so many cows in downtown Atlanta...

COLLINS: All right. We are listening in to Chief Justice Roy Moore, whose name you have heard over the past few weeks several times. Birmingham, Alabama, he is the Chief Justice who was involved, and we've been calling him an embattled Chief Justice, that is, of the Ten Commandments monument taken out of the courthouse. And there was also, just to update you, a federal judge on Thursday rejected a bid by his supporters to actually have that monument returned to public view in the courthouse. You may have seen on our coverage live that monument being moved into sort of the hallway, no longer in public view.

I want to bring back in today Jayne Weintraub and Michael Smerconish, our legal analysts, to talk a little more about this. He said just moments ago this is a human thing -- it is not a human thing, it's a God thing. Michael Smerconish, what do you think about that comment?

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, ATTORNEY: Heidi, I like this fellow. I think Judge Moore is a heck of a nice guy. I'd love to have him as a neighbor. But he doesn't belong on the bench. The man does not belong on the bench. He belongs in the setting in which you are watching him now, because he just cannot contain the religion from the law, and it pains me to say it, but that's how I feel.

COLLINS: And Jayne?

JAYNE WEINTRAUB, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And it pains me to agree with Michael so much, but that comment that the suspended Chief Justice made, that it's not a human thing, it's a God thing, is precisely why he should not be where he is, and precisely why the courts have ruled the way they have.

But the issue is bigger than that, Heidi. The issue is he deliberately disregarded a court order. The man clearly behind -- belongs behind a pulpit on a cable network, rather than a podium in a courtroom. I mean, it's become so much of his persona, that that's where he should stay.

COLLINS: Now, let me ask a question, and maybe you is clear it up for me, because I've been thinking about it for a while now. Isn't this issue about exclusion? My understanding is that the monument, obviously, is of the Ten Commandments, which includes Christians and Judaism. Now, wouldn't it be different if there was a monument brought in by, for example, a Muslim faith and was not allowed to be there? Would that make this ruling any different? WEINTRAUB: The ruling is because it violates the establishment clause. It deals with an established religion, and we need to have a separation of church and state. That's what our forefathers decided in our constitution. And for this very reason of what's going on, it's so important. Our church and state should be separate. And it should not overlap. And having the Ten Commandments was viewed as a violation of the establishment clause of the established religion. Whatever it is, it excluded others, and so it has no place in a public rotunda, as it was displayed.

Now, there are conflicting views. Now, Heidi, there are federal courts that have permitted things like this throughout the country.

COLLINS: And Jayne, we're running out of time and have to give Michael the last word here. When does exclusion take place, Michael?

SMERCONISH: It takes place when I, as someone - and I'm not in this category -- who doesn't believe that God handed to Moses the Ten Commandments, now has to walk into the rotunda of that Alabama Supreme Court building, and has to walk past that two-ton tablet. You can't do it. Forget the law. It just doesn't pass the gut check.

COLLINS: Michael Smerconish, we appreciate your time, and Jayne Weintraub, as well. And we'll be back in just a moment.


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