Vital Signs

The Habitation of Justice

Judge Roy Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, is in big trouble again.  Judge Moore’s first 15 minutes of fame happened when, as a lower-court judge, he refused to remove a plaque containing the Ten Commandments from the wall of his courtroom.  The plaque, it was said, amounted to an impermissible establishment of religion and could not be tolerated in a public building.  One court did order the judge to give up his Commandments, but he refused, arguing that, since our country’s system of justice was, ultimately, based on the Ten Commandments, it was perfectly appropriate to recognize them in a courtroom.  Judge Moore went on to capitalize on his notoriety by winning a seat on Alabama’s highest court.

The latest flap concerning Moore comes as a result of a concurring opinion he published in a recent 9-0 decision affirming a trial court’s denial to a lesbian of physical custody of her three children.  At the time that her divorce was granted, the woman, a Californian, shared joint legal custody with the father and had primary physical custody of the kids, but she later petitioned the California courts to modify the custody arrangement in order to give physical custody to the father, who subsequently moved to Alabama.  She desired this change, apparently, in order for her to pursue a same-sex relationship without the children getting in the way.  The California...

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