Action Alert!

Alabama battleground

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Aug 26, 2003

The poll on our home page shows that a solid majority of our readers back Judge Moore in his argument with a federal court order. I agree with his argument, too. But I question whether this is the time or the place for a battle.

Sooner or later, we're going to have to settle the question of church-state relations in the US. The court decisions over the past few decades have been seriously skewed against Christianity-- and, for that matter, against the sense of the Constitution.

But this case in Alabama strikes me as a strange place to draw the line. Judge Moore clearly set up this confrontation; he has been spoiling for a fight. That's OK with me; I think my own track record will show that I'm generally ready for a good fight.

However, the case law weighs heavily against Judge Moore. If you go by the established precedents-- and that is what courts go by-- this doesn't even look like a close call. Judge Moore and his supporters are going to lose this case in the courts.

Again, you might say that the courts have decided those prior cases wrongly. And I'd agree with you. But that suggests to me that we should fight harder to get more solid judges on the courts, to reverse the judicial trend and undo those adverse precedents.

Christian activists are headed for Alabama, to show their support for Judge Moore. They may defy the courts; they may go to jail. Again, I have nothing in principle against civil disobedience; I've been in jail myself. But in this case I don't see what will be gained. I suggest that the time and energy would be better spent putting more judges like Moore on the courts, rather than more Christians behind bars.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: John J Plick - Aug. 28, 2003 6:04 PM ET USA

    Addendum...So Phil, now that they've taken the monument down and our rights have been trampled on once again where are YOU going to be this Saturday night? Come to think of it...if I drove hard right after work I could be in Kentucky by midnight on Friday (Easy to reach Alabama by Saturday night...) but then again they were desperate for overtime at the hospital that day and I said I would be there...ah...priorities...priorities...

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Aug. 27, 2003 8:03 PM ET USA

    The way a figure it , Phil, it's suffer a little now or suffer a lot later. Tragically enough, we may not have the priviliege of "demonstrating" before we get taken away to jail in a few years. We had better take our best shots now, making firm and uncompromising statements before the options close down completely. The Evil one is not playing a game here.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 26, 2003 7:49 PM ET USA

    The Left rolled their opposition and took over our country's institutions in large part by staging such protests against their opponents and constantly challenging deeply-rooted legal precedent. And you think that this tactic doesn't work? To the contrary, it seems to be the only one that does.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 26, 2003 1:29 PM ET USA

    If you've read Judge Moore's writings you'd know he has some solid legal arguments on this. Just because most precedent is decided wrongly is not a reason to abandon the attempt to change it. Look at Roe v. Wade and that line of precedent. At this stage in the process both political pressure and legal pressure is needed. Without the public support and political pressure Christian Activists give, we're not likely to see more judges like Moore nominated or appointed to the bench.