February 26, 2004
Judge Myron Thompson to Deliver Dean's Lecture, "Judging in Alabama: Deciding the Tough Cases," March 2
Judge Myron H. Thompson '72 of the United States District Court, Middle District of Alabama, will give a Dean's Lecture on "Judging in Alabama: Deciding the Tough Cases," on Tuesday, March 2, at 12:30 p.m., in the Faculty Lounge. The talk is free and open to the public.
Amidst the swell of controversy around the "Ten Commandments Judge" last year, Judge Myron Thompson had to make dispassionate decisions about the law. Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore had installed a large stone monument depicting the Ten Commandments in the Alabama State Judicial Building. When several civil liberties groups sued Moore over the presence of the monument, the question came before Judge Thompson: Was the monument a statement about the Judeo-Christian foundation of American law, as Moore contended, or an unconstitutional state endorsement of religion? Thompson ruled that the monument had to be removed. He has faced both public praise and criticism for his decision, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld his judgment.
This was one of many difficult choices Thompson has made in his time on the bench. He has also presided over cases dealing with the racial diversity of the Alabama state post-secondary education system, redistricting in the City of Montgomery, and an Alabama law barring gay and lesbian groups on college campuses from receiving public money or official support.
Thompson was first nominated to the District Court by President Carter in 1980 and served as Chief Judge from 1991-98. Thompson was born in Alabama and graduated from Yale Law School in 1972. He served as assistant attorney general of Alabama and worked in private practice before becoming a judge.