Moore, Roy Stewart

Roy Moore Roy Stewart Moore (1947- ) is a politically and religiously conservative politician and former judge who is best known for the national controversy surrounding his placement of a two-and-a-half-ton monument to the Ten Commandments in the Heflin-Torbert Judicial Building while serving as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. He was removed from his position as chief justice, in 2003 for refusing to remove the Ten Commandments monument and was suspended in 2016 for defying the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage. Over four decades, Moore has also served as the Deputy District Attorney of Etowah County and judge on the Sixteenth Judicial Court of Alabama. He also ran unsuccessfully for governor. He lost a 2017 special election to the U.S. Senate after allegations surrounding inappropriate relationships with under-age girls became public, and he failed again in 2019. Moore established the Foundation for Moral Law in 2002 to promote his view that Judeo-Christian values are the basis for American government and law.

Moore was born in Gadsden, Etowah County, on February 11, 1947, to Roy and Evelyn Stewart Moore; he is the oldest of five children. Moore graduated from Etowah County High School in Attalla in 1965 and was admitted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point that same year. He graduated in 1969 with a bachelor of science in arts and engineering and was commissioned as a military police officer. He served at Fort Benning, Georgia, and Illesheim, Germany, and was then deployed to Vietnam, where he commanded the 188th Military Police Company in the 504th Military Police Battalion. For his strict adherence to military guidelines, soldiers reportedly nicknamed Moore “Captain America.”

After being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in 1974 at the rank of captain, Moore enrolled in the University of Alabama School of Law and graduated with a law degree in 1977. He then returned to Etowah County, becoming the deputy district attorney. In 1982, he unsuccessfully competed in the Democratic primary for the position of Circuit Court judge for Etowah County. After failing to win the election, the dejected Moore took a maintenance job in Galveston, Texas, before moving to Australia in 1984, where he worked on a ranch. Afterwards, he moved back to Alabama, where served as a lawyer in private practice. In 1985, he married Kayla Kisor Heald, a divorcee with one child, whom Moore later adopted. Together they would have three children.

In 1992, Moore switched his political affiliation to the Republican Party and, thanks to lobbying on the part of friends, was appointed by Republican governor Guy Hunt to serve as a judge on the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit Court of Alabama. During this time, Moore became known as the “Ten Commandments Judge” after hanging a wood-burned plaque of the Ten Commandments behind his bench. That action sparked a legal battle that led to widespread support among conservative Alabamians, who elected Moore to the position in 1994. In 1999, Moore ran for the seat of chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court left open by the retiring Perry O. Hooper Sr. Moore focused his campaign on the controversy surrounding his display of the Ten Commandments plaque as well as his belief that Judeo-Christian values underlay the moral and ethical foundation of American law and governance. He soundly defeated sitting Supreme Court justice Harold See to become the 28th chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2000.

Soon after the election, Moore commissioned a 5,280-pound (~2,390 kilogram) granite monument with quotes from the Declaration of Independence, the national anthem, and various founding fathers that was topped by two large tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments. It was carved by Huntsville sculptor Richard Hahnemann. Moore had the monument placed in the rotunda of the Heflin-Torbert Judicial Building, which houses the Alabama Supreme Court. The installation of this monument made national headlines, soon drawing the attention of various groups who successfully sued Moore for violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment regarding separation between church and state, in Glassroth v. Moore. After disregarding a federal district court order to remove the monument and a lengthy appeals process, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary removed Moore from his position as chief justice on November 13, 2003.

In 2002, while serving as chief justice, Moore founded the Montgomery, Montgomery County,-based Foundation for Moral Law and later served as its president. It is a non-profit legal foundation that promotes conservative political, religious, and social views such a prayer in schools and the acknowledgement of a Judeo-Christian God in American public life. It represents individuals in religious liberties cases, files amicus curiae briefs regarding religion and Constitutional law, and conducts seminars on the relationship between Judeo-Christian values and American government. While Moore was president, questions arose about the organization’s finances when it was discovered that he was receiving a salary even though he stated publicly that he did not receive a “regular salary” from the organization. The foundation also paid for Moore’s health care benefits, travel expenses, and a bodyguard. More controversy arose when it was discovered that there were financial errors in the foundation’s tax documents and that there was considerable overlap between the charity and Moore’s political activities. His wife, Kayla Moore, later took over as president, in 2013, and several of their children have also worked for the foundation.

In 2006 and 2010, Moore ran in the Alabama Republican gubernatorial primaries, losing both times. In 2012, Moore was again elected chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, becoming the state’s 31st chief justice in January 2013. In 2015, in the Obergefell v. Hodges case, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in the United States. In response, Moore ordered state probate judges and offices to withhold marriage licenses from same-sex couples and in effect defy the Supreme Court ruling. His order led to his suspension the following year by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. In April 2017, after appealing his suspension and losing, Moore resigned as chief justice.

In September 2017, Moore again ran in a Republican primary, to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions after his appointment as U.S. Attorney General by Pres. Donald Trump. While campaigning, multiple women came forward accusing Moore of either sexually assaulting them or initiating improper social contact with them while they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. Though he vehemently denied the allegations, many members of the Republican Party, including President Trump, supported Luther Strange in the Republican primary and called on Moore to drop out of the race. Moore defeated Strange in the primary but unpredictably lost to Birmingham attorney and former federal prosecutor Doug Jones, who became the first Democrat to win a U.S. Senate seat in Alabama since 1992. Moore ran in the 2019 Republican primary for Jones’s seat but came in a distant fourth to Jeff Sessions and former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville.

Over the years, Moore has made many controversial statements in public and to the media. He claimed falsely that Pres. Barack Obama was not a U.S. citizen. He has said that Muslims should not be allowed to serve in Congress and that homosexuality should be outlawed and has rejected the theory of evolution. He has written several books that promote his legal, political, and religious views.

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