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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 13, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 20
Suspended!
Alabama Chief Justice out after ordering state judges to defy SCOTUS on marriage
Section One
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Suspended!
Alabama Chief Justice out after ordering state judges to defy SCOTUS on marriage

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Alabama Chief justice Roy Moore has been suspended from his post as a result of charges filed against him on May 6.

The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission - a state ethics agency - charged that Moore 'flagrantly disregarded and abused his authority' when he ordered the state's probate judges to turn down applications for marriage licenses by same-sex couples.

In January, six months after the US Supreme Court's Obergefell ruling that legalized same-sex marriage, Moore issued an administrative order telling the state's probate judges that they had a 'ministerial duty' to enforce the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

In his order, Moore falsely informed Alabama judges that the Supreme Court decision only applied to the four states explicitly cited in the Obergefell ruling, not to Alabama. According to the formal complaint against him, Moore's order is 'contrary to clear and determined law about which there is no confusion or unsettled question.'

Since Moore's order, nearly all of the probate judges in the state have been issuing licenses to same-sex couples, though a few have stopped issuing marriage licenses altogether.

Moore now faces a hearing before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary, a panel of judges, lawyers, and other experts.

This is not Moore's first run-in with the Court of the Judiciary. In 2003, he was ousted by the same body from his position as Chief Justice after disobeying a federal court order to remove a two-ton monument of the Ten Commandments that he had installed in the rotunda of the state judicial building.

He was reelected Chief Justice nine years later.

Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which had filed a series of complaints to the commission, said Chief Justice Moore 'has disgraced his office for far too long.'

'For the good of the state he should be kicked out of office,' he added.

On his side, Moore was defiant.

'We intend to fight this agenda vigorously and expect to prevail,' he said in a statement, adding that the Judicial Inquiry Commission, which filed the complaint, had no authority over the charges at issue.

Moore also appeared in person, clad in his judicial robes, at a news conference in the rotunda of the state court building.

'This is about legalism,' he said. 'There is nothing in writing that you will find that I told anybody to disobey a federal court order.'

Then referring to a noted Transgender activist in Alabama, Moore said the ethics commission had 'chosen to listen to people like Ambrosia Starling, a professed transvestite, and other gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals, as well as organizations which support their agenda.'

Moore's attorney, Mathew Staver, asserted that the issue could only be decided by the US Supreme Court.

'The Judicial Inquiry Commission has no jurisdiction to resolve legal disputes,' he said, 'and the complaint is solely focused on a legal dispute between federal and state courts.'

Meanwhile, HRC said Moore got what he deserved.

'Roy Moore is an embarrassment to the state of Alabama,' said HRC Alabama State Manager Eva Walton Kendrick.

'He has repeatedly used his authority to discriminate against LGBT people and their families, and to defy federal marriage equality rulings. Moore's suspension is welcome news, and we expect the Ethics Commission will permanently throw him out of office after reviewing his pattern of intentionally flouting the laws he vowed to uphold.'

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