Since that fateful day Dwight Eisenhower named Earl Warren chief justice, the U.S. Supreme Court has been engineering a social revolution.
Seizing legislative power, the court legalized pornography, declared abortion a constitutional right, abolished the death penalty for a generation and prohibited a once-Christian people from paying public homage to their God. Yet, Americans have not rebelled.
Why not? Because they were raised to believe the court was the final judge of what the Constitution says, and to defy it is to dishonor the Founding Fathers. Andy Jackson would have hanged judges like Warren, Brennan, Blackmun and Douglas as high as Haman.
Missing in our 50-year struggle against judicial dictatorship has been a Sam Adams, with the courage and kidney to go down to the docks and toss His Majesty's tea into the harbor. But in the new chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, we may have found such a man.
Roy Moore, a Vietnam vet, was lately a judge in Etowah County. Presented a carving of the Ten Commandments, Moore proudly hung the plaque in his courtroom, where it attracted the horrified notice of the ACLU, which found a federal judge to order Moore to take it down.
If the feds want this plaque down, said Moore, tell them to send U.S. marshals to tear it down. Moore's defiance was electrifying. And Gov. Fob James backed Moore up, saying that if the feds sent in marshals, he, his state troopers and the Alabama National Guard would meet them on the courthouse steps.
The prospect of Janet Reno leading units of the 82nd Airborne to Etowah County to rip the Ten Commandments off a courtroom wall was exhilarating. But a higher court averted a showdown by ruling the plaque could stay.
Moore was a hero across Alabama, and decided to run for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Moore won. And the night before he took the oath, he had moved into the rotunda of the judicial building in Montgomery a 5,300-pound block of granite on which was carved the Ten Commandments Moses brought down from Mount Sinai.
Moore's coup stunned Morris Dees, the McGovernite fund-raiser who runs a racket called the Southern Poverty Law Center. Dees went to court to demand that the commandments be purged. "This monument was snuck in during the middle of the night, and they can sneak it out just as easily," he ranted, "It's a gross violation of the rights of the citizens of Alabama." Since the citizens of Alabama elected Moore and nobody elected Dees, it would seem Dees speaks only for the usual minority of malcontents.
Unfortunately for Dees, a copy of a confidential letter he sent to a fellow attorney in the case was mailed to the counsel for Moore. In it, Dees revealed himself as a Christian-basher. "You might remember that from the start," he wrote his colleague, "I was laying our trial theme -- i.e., how this was the act of a lone religious nut in partnership with a fanatical church."
The "nut" is Justice Moore. The "fanatical church" is Coral Ridge Ministries of TV evangelist Dr. James Kennedy. But Dees did find a like-minded U.S. judge, Myron Thompson, who has ordered Judge Moore to remove the commandments within 30 days. Wrote Thompson, "The court is impressed that the monument and its immediate surroundings are, in essence, a consecrated place, a religious sanctuary, within the walls of the courthouse."
Moore has appealed Thompson's ruling, and the granite block with the carving of the commandments remains in the rotunda as the Dec. 17 deadline for its removal approaches. The stage is set for a constitutional confrontation.
If Moore refuses to remove the monument, and both sides go up to the Supreme Court, the issue will come down to this: Either the Supreme Court will back Moore and the Ten Commandments will remain in the rotunda -- or the court will give a final order to remove the Ten Commandments.
If the judge refuses, U.S. marshals may be ordered to go in and remove the monument. Would Bush instruct U.S. marshals to carry out such an order? Would Alabama Gov. Bob Riley follow Fob James and send the Alabama National Guard to impede the marshals? Would Bush federalize the Alabama Guard or send in U.S. troops to take down the Ten Commandments from the rotunda in Montgomery, with thousands of Christians roaring their enraged opposition?
This one is going down to the wire. And for once, Christians and traditionalists have a champion willing to put himself on the line. The next civil rights revolution in America may be Christians standing up to an anti-Christian bigotry that has captured the third branch of the American government.