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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Chief Justice Roy Moore Removed From Bench

Aired November 13, 2003 - 12:35   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And let's go right back to Montgomery, Alabama. The former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Justice Roy Moore, speaking out now on the decision to strip him of his job.
ROY MOORE, FMR. ALABAMA CHIEF JUSTICE: ... inside the courtroom. The reason this trial has been kept from public view is this very reason. So I want to read to you from the transcript of the exact questions that was asked by Bill Pryor (ph) of me when I was on the stand so that no one in this country or in this state can confuse what the real issue is.

And this is the question: "Mr. Chief Justice, and your understanding is that the federal court ordered you that you could not acknowledge God, is that right?" My answer was yes. His question: "And if you resume your duties as chief justice after this proceeding, you will continue to acknowledge God as you have testified you would do today?" My answer: "That's right."

(APPLAUSE)

MOORE: The question so as not to confuse anybody, "No matter what any other official says?" My answer: "Absolutely. Without -- let me clarify that. Without acknowledgment of God, I could not do my duty. I must acknowledge God. It says so in the Constitution of Alabama, it says so in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, it says so in everything I have read."

So -- question by Mr. Pryor (ph): "The only point I am trying to clarify, Mr. Chief Justice, is not why, but only that, in fact, if you do resume your duties as chief justice, you will continue to do that without regard to what any other official says. Is that right?"

My answer: "I'll do the same thing this court did with starting with prayer. That is an acknowledgment of God. Now we did the same thing that justices do when they place their hand on the bible and say, 'So help me God.' It is an acknowledgment of God."

"The Alabama Supreme Court opens with 'God save the state and this honorable court.' It's an acknowledgement of God. In my opinions, which I have written, many opinions, acknowledging God as the source, a moral source of our law, I think you must."

Ladies and gentlemen, that is what the case was about. It's about whether or not we can acknowledge God as the source of our law and our liberty. That is all I have done. I have been found guilty of that very thing. I've been found guilty by a code of ethics that is established on the acknowledgment of God as its source.

I will be discussing with my attorneys what course to pursue in this action. I have consulted with many state, political and religious leaders. And I will be making an announcement next week which could alter the course of this country and the course of our state and our nation. I will let you know when that announcement comes.

But right now, we're concerned with the present time. This case is about whether or not we as a state can acknowledge God. The federal court said no. And now the court of the judiciary, in secret -- that is the reason you can't go up on the steps of this public building -- has said that I will be removed from office because I would continue to acknowledge God.

Forty years ago, in the case of Forcaso (ph) v Watkins in 1961, a public notary from Maryland was allowed to continue to hold his position even though he didn't acknowledge God. And the Supreme Court said that was a right. Forty years later, the highest public official, highest judicial officer in the state is being removed from his job because he does acknowledge God.

In 40 years, we have come from the source of this country to a denial of that very God upon whom our law and our nations are predicated. I thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

QUESTION: Were you surprised by the verdict?

MOORE: Pardon?

QUESTION: Were you surprised by the verdict?

MOORE: No, we were not surprised at the verdict. We knew that there was something up in this trial when all our motions were denied, when it was held excluding the media from the viewing of the area. We knew that they did not want anyone to know what was going on inside the building. And I was not really surprised at this verdict, no.

QUESTION: If this is God's will, do you understand God's will?

MOORE: Oh, yes. I understand God's will. And God's will is what happens, yes.

QUESTIONED: How do you feel about the people who found you guilty?

MOORE: I have no animosity toward anyone on the court. There is a basic philosophical difference in this country of what law is. Law is not an order of court. And we've got to get that straight.

If we follow the rule of man, and not the rule of law, we are disregarding everything we are sworn to uphold. The rule of law is contained within the Constitution. We're sworn to uphold under Article 6 of the United States Constitution. And that is the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which itself acknowledges God.

The Alabama Constitution says our justice system is established on God. That is the rule of law. When a federal judge comes in unelected, and appointed for life, and says the state of Alabama cannot acknowledge God, we have a serious problem.

I will leave it to the rest of the states of this union to stand up for their constitutions and their right to acknowledge God. And unless we do, public acknowledgment of God will be taken from us. "In God We Trust" will be taken from our money and "One Nation Under God" from our pledge.

QUESTION: (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

MOORE: Well, I will take it out of the closet, sir. We have asked the United States Congress to take this monument and put it in their capitol, so that people would know the true meaning of "Congress shall make now law respecting the establishment of religion or (UNINTELLIGIBLE) the free exercise thereof." You see, by placing this monument in the capitol, the legislature of this nation, Congress, would stop an overactive judiciary and restore the balance of power, and would be making a statement that it is our right, an unalienable right to acknowledge God. And people should ask their Congress for a readdress of grievances.

QUESTION: Any regrets?

MOORE: I have absolutely no regrets. I have done what I was sworn to do.

(APPLAUSE)

MOORE: I have said repeatedly, that unless we can acknowledge God, we cannot uphold the oath of our office. We've got to stop the hypocrisy in this country. We've got to stop courts that will open with "God save the United States and this honorable court" and then say they can't acknowledge God.

We have to stop judges who put their hands on the bible and say, "So help me God," and then go into court and the first thing they do is deny the very creator, God, upon which this nation and our laws are founded. We have got to stop hypocrisy.

QUESTION: Are you going to ask for your job back?

BLITZER: All right. So there you have it. Roy Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, showing absolutely no willingness to back down whatsoever, saying that these judges were simply wrong in stripping him of his job. He is no longer the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

He did will fromfully and publicly defy federal court order. This court of the judiciary of Alabama concluded unanimously the former chief justice, they said, placed himself above the law. He is now deciding what steps to take next. We will continue to monitor that story for you. We anticipate at some point shortly to be speaking directly with Justice Moore. Stay with CNN for that.

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