Thursday, March 17, 2005
On this day:

Should Judge Moore Pay?

In a post Monday, I said: "The Alabama Supreme Court has ruled that Chief Justice Roy Moore will not have to reimburse the state for legal fees sustained during the court fight over his Ten Commandments monument."

As one reader pointed out in a comment to that post, my statement wasn't quite accurate. The Court merely ruled that the plaintiffs in the case didn't have legal standing to sue Judge Moore for repayment of the fees. Sorry for the sloppiness.

As this Mobile Register editorial says,

The fact is that the high court still hasn't ruled on the merits of whether Mr. Moore should repay the $549,430 paid by the state in his defense. Instead, the court merely ruled that a group of taxpayers did not have legal standing to force such a repayment.

Relying on two court precedents and applicable state law, the Supreme Court noted that the law clearly delegates to "the governor" the responsibility for "the recovery of any public moneys ... which have been wrongfully disbursed."

In other words, individual taxpayers cannot exercise powers that, through their own elected officials, they already have delegated to the governor as their agent.

Having determined that the taxpayers have no standing to sue, the high court did not consider what should happen if the governor tried to collect court costs from Mr. Moore. Gov. Bob Riley, therefore, has reason to press the issue.

The editorial goes on to state that Judge Moore should foot the bill, expecially since he has "gained fame and possibly fortune" as a result of the Ten Commandments case. Their argument is that Moore has a moral obligation to pay, if not a legal obligation, which was exactly the point that Cheif made in his comment yesterday.