By Kaija Wilkinson
MOBILE, Ala., Nov 7 (Reuters) - A former chief justice of
the Alabama Supreme Court who was removed from office nine years
ago for refusing to take down a Ten Commandments monument has
won back his job.
Republican Roy Moore defeated Democrat Bob Vance, a circuit
judge, in Tuesday's election for the Supreme Court seat. Moore
won 52 percent of the vote with 99 percent of precincts
reporting, according to local media.
Alabama voters also rejected a ballot measure to strip
racist language from the state constitution.
Moore was ousted from office in 2003 for refusing to take
down a two-ton monument of the Ten Commandments from the rotunda
in the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery. He was first
elected to the chief justice job in 2000.
In a legal fight that drew national attention, a federal
judge ruled Moore was placing himself above the law and
violating the U.S. Constitution by refusing to remove the
religious monument, and the Alabama Court of the Judiciary
unanimously removed him from office.
Moore began his comeback in March, when he pulled off a
surprise victory over both the current chief justice and a
former state attorney general who had been favored to win the
Moore has said he will not do anything to create further
friction with the federal courts - including bringing back the
"God is great," Moore told Reuters on Tuesday night. "He has
directed us throughout this campaign and it shows. Compared to
the millions spent against us, it's a really big victory."
Vance, the son of a federal judge who was killed by a mail
bomb at his Birmingham home in 1989, raised more than two times
as much as Moore and was endorsed by a bipartisan group of 10
former state justices.
Moore's victory was part of a Republican sweep of statewide
offices in Alabama on Tuesday. It was the first time since the
post-Civil War Reconstruction era in the late 19th century that
Democrats were shut out of office on the state level.
"Life is good," said Republican Senate Majority Leader J.T.
"Jabo" Waggoner. "It took us 136 years to get control back."
Alabama voters also defeated an amendment that would have
deleted references in the state's 111-year-old constitution to
separate schools for white and black children and a poll tax,
wording already invalidated by federal law.
Supporters of the measure said the changes were needed to
help Alabama move beyond its history of racial segregation.
But some black legislators and the Alabama Education
Association teachers union opposed the amendment, arguing that
removing the controversial language while also leaving in
wording that did not guarantee a free public education to school
children could do more damage.
(Additional reporting by Verna Gates)
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