In a speech delivered in Mississippi at the Pastor for Life Luncheon, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore revealed a completely different interpretation of the First Amendment, one that I don’t think has ever been expressed in public by any individual in the history of the United States.
From Raw Story:
Speaking at the Pastor for Life Luncheon, which was sponsored by Pro-Life Mississippi, Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court declared that the First Amendment only applies to Christians because “Buddha didn’t create us, Mohammed didn’t create us, it was the God of the Holy Scriptures” who created us.
“They didn’t bring the Koran over on the pilgrim ship,” he continued. “Let’s get real, let’s go back and learn our history. Let’s stop playing games.”
Does a Chief Justice of a State Supreme Court impugn his credibility by completely reinterpreting the First Amendment to the Constitution? How can a judge have any credibility or appearance of impartiality if that judge is openly suggesting that only a portion of Americans are covered by the First Amendment?
I know Moore is quite the religious man. We’re from the same hometown, and the one time I was summoned for jury duty, it was in his courtroom at the Etowah County Courthouse. I was still living in Alabama (Montgomery at the time) when the whole legal wrangling went on about his 10 Commandments plaque in his courtroom. That said, I wonder how any defense lawyer or defendant could expect fair and impartial judgement from a judge who has openly expressed an interpretation of the Constitution that runs counter to what it actually says.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
There’s nothing there that implies this only applies to Christians, no matter how you try to twist it. Thomas Jefferson, a Founding Father, had a copy of the Quran as well as other religious texts. In the Treaty of Tripoli, there is Article 11 that reads, “As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”
I don’t want to appear as though I’m attacking his religious beliefs, as that’s not my intent. However, there’s no way to try to wedge favoritism for one religion over all others within the First Amendment. I would feel much better knowing that judges, who hold the fate of fellow citizen’s futures in their hands, are capable of reaching impartial decisions based upon the application of all existing and constitutional laws, regardless of political leanings. Knowing that a judge has a biased view which could incapacitate his ability to be impartial seems to be grounds for removal from the bench. I’m quite protective of my native state, but when things need to be called out, I have no problem with doing so. This is one of those times. Knowing how the Christian Right rallies around Chief Justice Moore, I’m almost certain that nothing will happen.