Antigay Alabama chief justice Roy Moore said Friday he doesn't consider himself a martyr after losing his job for refusing a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building. But Moore said he plans to continue the fight that has made him a darling of fellow conservative Christians. "I consider myself a man who has upheld his oath and done what I had to do to keep the constitution of Alabama, the constitution of the United States as the rule of law," Moore said on NBC's Today show. Moore said he would unveil proposed legislation next week to rein in the power of federal courts. Asked if he might run for governor--or president--Moore replied, "I haven't decided on running for anything yet. I'm just trying to get over this latest episode in my life."
Moore angered gay rights advocates across the country in February 2002 when he wrote in a legal opinion that homosexual conduct is "immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of nature's God, upon which this nation and our laws are predicated." The comments were part of a ruling that prevented a lesbian mother from winning custody of her three children from an allegedly abusive father.
In Thursday's decision to remove Moore, the nine members of Alabama's Court of the Judiciary handed out the harshest penalty possible, saying Moore left them with no choice by repeatedly insisting he would never obey a federal judge's order to move the 2 1/2-ton block of granite from the courthouse rotunda. "The chief justice placed himself above the law," said presiding judge William Thompson. Moore spent eight months designing the monument and helped move it into the building in the middle of the night in 2001. He soon became a lightning rod for criticism from civil liberties activists who said the stone tablets promoted religion in violation of the separation of church and state. A federal judge ordered the monument removed, and it was finally wheeled away on August 27 to a storage room on instructions from Moore's eight fellow justices. Moore, 56, had been suspended since August but was allowed to collect his $170,000 annual salary.