Alabama Chief Justice Removed from Bench for Advising Lower Courts to Uphold Alabama Marriage Laws
The Court of the Judiciary suspended Chief Justice Moore without pay through the end of his term — a de facto removal from the bench.
Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s defense of traditional marriage has cost him his seat on the bench.
Moore was suspended today without pay through the end of his term following a hearing by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary (COJ) today on six ethics violations charges.
The judiciary court ruled that Moore defied law already clearly settled by the Supreme Court’s June 2015 Obergefell vs. Hodges same-sex marriage decision when he told Alabama’s probate judges six months later that they were still bound by a 2015 state court order to deny marriage licenses to gays and lesbians.
“Beyond question, at the time he issued the January 6, 2016, order, Chief Justice Roy Moore knew about Obergefell and its clear holding that the United States Constitution protects the right of same-sex couples to marry,” the court wrote in the unanimous decision.
Things weren’t so clear, his lawyers say. At the time Moore sent the administrative orders to the probate judges, the Alabama Supreme Court had yet to consider the effect the Obergefell decision would have on an ongoing Alabama case; thus the case was, in effect, still pending.
“The 2016 Administrative Order was merely a status report of the pending case before the Alabama Supreme Court,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and representing Moore. “The order did not change the status quo. It did not create any new obligation or duty. To suspend Chief Justice Moore for the duration of his term is a miscarriage of justice and we will appeal this case to the Alabama Supreme Court. This case is far from over,” said Staver.
The COJ found Moore guilty of all six charges and suspended him through the end of his term. However, since he is 69 years old, he will be ineligible to run for office once his term ends in 2019. The order of suspension effectively removes him from the bench, which is a violation of COJ rules without a unanimous 9-0 vote, Staver said.
In a statement Friday, Moore said that the COJ “had no authority” over administrative orders to probate judges. He said the Judicial Inquiry Commission chose to listen to the LGBT community, and the decision “clearly reflects the corrupt nature of our political and legal system at our highest level.
“This was a politically motivated effort by radical homosexual and transgender groups to remove me as chief justice of the Supreme Court because of outspoken opposition to their immoral agenda. … We intend to fight this agenda vigorously and expect to prevail.”