Nine years after a battle over a stone monument listing the Ten Commandments inside a state court building in Alabama, the state Supreme Court chief justice who was removed from office by a state judiciary panel is the leading candidate – to be the state Supreme Court chief justice.

Judge Roy Moore had installed the 5,280-pound stone monument as part of an acknowledgement of God’s sovereignty over American life, and when he refused to haul it away as a federal judge wanted, a state judicial panel removed him from office.

But after a stunning upset victory over two better-funded competitors for the GOP nomination for the office, incumbent Chuck Malone and former state Attorney General Charlie Graddick, Moore now is leading in the statewide race in Alabama, where voters choose the chief justice.

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