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Monument Backers Go to Court

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MONTGOMERY, Ala., Aug. 25 -- About 100 demonstrators prayed outside the Alabama Judicial Building on Monday as attorneys went to court to stop a federal judge's order to remove a 5,300-pound stone representation of the Ten Commandments from the building's rotunda.

ATTORNEYS for a Christian talk show host and a pastor asked U.S. District Judge William Steele for an injunction to block the monument's removal, arguing that taking it away would violate the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion.

The action named as defendants the eight associate justices of the state Supreme Court, who last week overruled Chief Justice Roy Moore and directed that the federal court order be followed, said one of the attorneys, Jim Zeigler.

Steele -- who was the first judge to order that the monument be removed -- scheduled a hearing for Wednesday.

Minutes after the lawsuit was announced, police blocked off the front of the building with metal barricades. The building's superintendent, Graham George, said they were erected to prevent protesters from leaning dangerously against the large windows and glass doors, where they have gathered for the last week.

Many of the monument supporters spent the night in sleeping bags on a plaza outside the building and nearby steps, and one scaled latticework on the side of the building and spent the night on a ledge. The unidentified man climbed down after daybreak.

Demonstrators have said they know the monument, installed two years ago by Moore, could be moved Monday or Tuesday.

Federal courts have held that the monument violates the U.S. Constitution's ban on government promotion of a religious doctrine.

Moore, who contends that it is his duty to acknowledge God in the public rotunda of the Judicial Building, was suspended last week by a state judicial ethics panel for disobeying the order by U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson to move the monument. Moore told supporters at the Judicial Building that he would fight to keep the monument in the rotunda even though he had been suspended. He has pledged to argue his case to the U.S. Supreme Court

"I have acknowledged God as the moral foundation of our law. It's my duty," Moore said. "Should I keep back my opinions at such a time



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