FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For More Information, Contact :
Joy Patterson (334) 242-7491
Suzanne Webb (334) 242-7351
August 21, 2003
"Today the eight associate justices of the Supreme Court of Alabama unanimously entered an order to remove the Chief Justice's monument from the public area of the State Judicial Building. Specifically, the Supreme Court today ordered the Judicial Building Manager to comply with the federal injunction as soon as practicable. In the meantime, access to the State Judicial Building has been limited to persons with official court business.
I have filed a certified copy of the order with the Clerk of the U. S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. I am hopeful that these actions will remove any risk that State officials will be ordered to pay fines for contempt of court from taxpayer funds. In my judgment, the taxpayers of Alabama should not be penalized for the refusal of the Chief Justice to obey the orders of the federal courts. This moment in our history is already one of financial crisis for our State government and especially our court system.
Although I continue to believe that the Ten Commandments are the cornerstone of our legal heritage and can be displayed constitutionally as they are in the building of the Supreme Court of the United States, this controversy is no longer one involving a debate in the federal courts. The Supreme Court of Alabama has now spoken and ordered compliance with the federal injunction. Under our Constitution, federal and state courts must respect the orders of each other.
Today is a day to be proud of the eight associate justices of the Supreme Court of Alabama. They have been faithful to the rule of law. There has been a lot of talk about the rule of law in recent days. The rule of law means that no person, including the Chief Justice of Alabama, is above the law. The rule of law means that when courts resolve disputes, after all appeals and arguments, we all must obey the orders of those courts even when we disagree with those orders. The rule of law means that we can work to change the law but not to defy court orders.
The associate justices of Alabama today have done their duty. As Attorney General, I applaud them, I congratulate them, and I thank them."