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  • MIKE AND MOORE

    Filed at 12:17 pm under by dcobranchi

    Mike Farris, founder of HSLDA, is a strong supporter of Alabama’s Cheif Justice Moore (of Ten Commandments fame).

    Another prominent voice being raised in support of the Commandments is that of Mike Farris, a well-known constitutional lawyer and Christian minister. Farris is the president of Patrick Henry College and founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association.

    As an attorney who has successfully argued religious freedom cases before the Supreme Court, Farris says he has deep respect for Judge Roy Moore, whose defiance of the court order to remove the monument has resulted in the Alabama chief justice’s suspension. Farris says he agrees substantively with Moore and holds him in high esteem for sacrificing his career to uphold a principle.

    “I’m not sure that I wouldn’t have exhausted my legal avenues a little bit first, but that’s debating the small points of it,” Farris says. He feels the larger point is that something had to be done “to point out the aggressive actions of our federal courts in ways that are clearly outside the bounds of what the founding fathers intended,” he says.

    Farris and a group of his Patrick Henry students wrote a brief in support of Judge Moore in the Eleventh Circuit. Farris says he hopes Moore’s sacrifice works, and he feels sure the judge will prevail in the next election — perhaps more so than the other eight justices on the Alabama Supreme Court.

    Y’all know my feelings on this.

    I know my history. Most of the original 13 states had an “official” church in the 18th century and the Constitution only prohibits Congress from establishing a national church. BUT- the world and the country have changed dramatically in the last 200 years. When the Constitution was written, the states were still considered sovereign. We don’t really think of them that way anymore. So, do we really want to go back to 50 different micro-countries with different rights in each one? You Baptists living in Maryland, do you want Roman Catholicism to be the state religion again? No. For better or worse, the states long ago gave up their sovereignty. We really are one country and the First Amendment proscription against Congress establishing a religion applies equally to the states.

    2 Responses to “MIKE AND MOORE”


    Comment by
    Dave
    September 1st, 2003
    at 12:51 pm

    This is a very interesting topic – and a great way for folks to bone up on their understanding of US history and its founding. The best source of general information on this topic (IMHO) is wallbuilders (wallbu...rs.com). In fact, I recommend that people read David Barton’s essay regarding the relationship of the 10 Commandments (Decaloque) to our laws. I also recommend that people read Judge Moore’s Op-Ed that the Wall Stret Journal printed last week. (www.opinionjounal.com)


    Comment by
    Skip Oliva
    September 1st, 2003
    at 2:06 pm

    As I see it, Moore did not violate the Establishment Clause. While I, like you, don’t accept the “state sovereignty” defense in and of itself, the real issue with that clause deals with how religion can be established by the state. What I mean is that Roy Moore, acting as a single official of the judicial branch, cannot by definition “establish” religion. The federal Constitution clearly recognizes that only the legislative branch can make such an establishment. What’s happened in recent times, however, is that the courts have read any official endorsement by a public official as an establishment. This is not only incorrect from a constitutional perspective; it also gives men like Moore something of a loophole to exploit for populist benefit.

    The problem, as I see it, stems from the misunderstanding of the “sovereign” concept. Most people think the separation-of-powers divides sovereignty, where it really just diffuses power. A few years ago, I remember watching a debate in the British House of Commons (you have to love C-Span) over a government bill to create a local Scotch assembly. Conservative MPs argued the bill would harm British sovereignty. Tony Blair replied that wasn’t so, that “sovereignty remains with the Westminster parliament.” Note he didn’t say sovereignty resides with the Crown, which would be the traditional European view of sovereignty (divine right of kings and such.) Ultimately, in a republican or parliamentary system, sovereignty is vested in the legislature. The delegation of certain incidental functions to other entities does not divide or dilute fundamental sovereignty. The federal Constitution understands this, for although the executive and judicial branches have certain reserved powers, Congress in the end gets the final say, since they can remove the president and federal judges and regulate the use of their powers.

    Similarly, to the extent Alabama retains any sovereignty, that sovereignty is vested wholly in the state legislature. Had the legislature ordered Moore to put a giant Decalogue in the State Suprem Court building, that arguably would constitute establishment. Moore acting alone, however, cannot exercise any sovereign power. Nor did Moore’s actions violate any individual’s constitutional rights; in the 11th Circuit opinion upholding the district court’s injunction, that court found the constitutional violation occurred because the plaintiffs, practicing lawyers in Alabama, felt intimidated by the monument’s presence. That doesn’t strike me as a constitutional rights violation; if anything, Chief Justice Moore’s presence in office is far more intimidating than the monument, yet I don’t think the 11th Circuit would hold electing a fundamentalist Christian to the bench violates the Establishment Clause.

    That’s not to say Moore should be let off the hook. He didn’t violate the Establishment Clause, but he did use the power of his office to advance a personal agenda unrelated to his duties. In the process, he compromised the integrity of the judicial process by attempting to undermine the district court’s authority. The best comparison for this is what Bill Clinton did in the events leading to his impeachment. Clinton used his office for a personal reason–covering up his affair–unrelated to his official duties, and in the process compromised the integrity of the judicial process by subverting the authority of the district court overseeing the Paula Jones case and, to a lesser extent, the investigation of the Independent Counsel.

    In my judgment, Moore and Clinton are guilty of the same basic offense, although they were motivated by different standards of personal morality.

    – Skip