Roy Moore's defiant road in pursuit of a US Senate seat

Over his nearly three-decade career, Moore has generated plenty of controversy.

ByABC News
September 27, 2017, 12:16 PM

— -- In his nearly three decades in the public eye, Roy Moore has never been one to shy away from controversy or confrontation.

Whether it’s the public display of the Ten Commandments or his refusal to enforce the U.S. Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage, Moore has gained national attention for his dogged and bombastic defense of Christianity’s role in the American political system.

The twice-removed former Alabama Supreme Court chief justice is now vying to become Alabama’s next U.S. senator, having defeated sitting Sen. Luther Strange, who was backed in the Republican primary by both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump.

The race became a proxy war between the populist and establishment wings of the Republican Party and pitted the president against his former top aides Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, who supported Moore.

Moore will now take on former U.S. attorney and Democratic candidate Doug Jones in the general election in December.

Here’s a look back at some of Moore’s most controversial moments since his first appointment to public office.


Moore’s first appointment as a judge came in 1992 when then-Governor H. Guy Hunt appointed him to the 16th Circuit Court of Alabama.

Moore quickly generated controversy by hanging a wooden plaque inscribed with the Ten Commandments on the wall of his courtroom and started the practice of beginning his court proceedings with a prayer.

In 1995, the American Civil Liberties Union sued Moore, claiming his display of the Ten Commandments and courtroom prayers were unconstitutional.

The suit was eventually dismissed after it was ruled the ACLU lacked standing in the case, and Moore was allowed to keep his plaque up and to continue praying in the courtroom.

In 1999, Moore announced his campaign for chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, largely focusing on his defense of the Ten Commandments and status as a defender of religion in the public sphere.

Surprising many, Moore won the seat, defeating sitting Alabama Associate Supreme Court Justice Harold See in the GOP primary. Moore went on to win the seat easily in the general election.

After his election, Moore began designing a monument that he said was meant to depict “the moral foundation of law.”

What was eventually unveiled in the summer of 2001 was a 5,280-pound, granite monument affixed with the Ten Commandments in the rotunda of the Alabama state judicial building in Montgomery.

That fall, the ACLU, along with the Southern Poverty Law Center, sued Moore for violating “the constitutional principle of separation of church and state.”

In November of 2002, U.S. District Court Judge Myron H. Thompson ordered Moore to remove the Ten Commandments monument within 30 days, ruling that its placement violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment.

Judge Thompson’s ruling was affirmed by the U.S. Court of Appeals in July of 2003, and in August, Moore was again ordered to remove the monument. He refused, appealing the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to hear the case.

In November of 2003, Moore was removed from the Alabama Supreme Court by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary for “willfully and publicly” defying the orders of a United States District Court.


After his removal from office, Moore turned his attention to the Foundation for Moral Law, a group he founded in 2002 in order "to restore the knowledge of God in law and government and to acknowledge and defend the truth that man is endowed with rights, not by our fellow man, but by God!" according to the group's website.

In 2005, during an interview on CSPAN with political commentator Bill Press, Moore stated that he believes "homosexual conduct" should be illegal in the United States.

Responding to a question about the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Lawrence v. Texas, which invalidated anti-sodomy laws nationwide, Moore said that the Court had "usurped the role of the legislature and ruled something about our moral law that is improper."

In 2006, Moore penned an op-ed on the website in which he said that Keith Ellison, the first Muslim ever elected to the U.S. Congress, should not be allowed to serve because of his religious beliefs.


Nearly a decade after his removal, Moore was again elected to be the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2012.

Moore’s next battle came in June of 2015 when the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

In defiance of the ruling, Moore –- who had already been battling a U.S. District Court that ruled the state’s marriage laws unconstitutional –- ordered Alabama’s probate judges to continue enforcing the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

In September of 2016, after numerous ethics complaints, the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission found Moore guilty of six ethics charges in connection with his refusal to comply with "binding federal law," and he was suspended for the remainder of his term on the Alabama Supreme Court.


Moore announced his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat once held by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April of 2017, and his candidacy thus far indicates he has no desire to temper his controversial rhetoric or beliefs.

In speeches and radio appearances reviewedby CNN, Moore has speculated as recently as December 2016 that there was a “big question” about whether or not Barack Obama was a U.S. citizen.

In a speech at an Alabama church this past February, Moore suggested that the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 may have been the result of the U.S. turning away from God, according to a video of the speech reviewed by CNN.

Moore also told a Vox reporter in August that he believed there are communities in the United States that are currently living under Sharia law. When pressed for evidence, Moore was unable to substantiate his claims.

Last week, Moore again caused controversy after he appeared to refer to Native Americans and Asians as “reds” and “yellows” in a campaign speech, later tweeting similar language.

Moore's win over Strange delivered a blow to McConnell and Trump, and if history is any indicator, Moore can't be expected to change his fiery, controversial style if he eventually earns the title of United States senator.

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