Alabama Supreme Court chief justice loses job over same-sex marriage refusal

By Allen Cone
Alabama Supreme Court chief justice loses job over same-sex marriage refusal
Roy Moore was removed as chief justice from the Alabama Supreme Court for the remainder of his term on Friday for his efforts to block gay marriage in the state. Moore, who also was removed from his position in 2003 but reelected in 2012, is shown here testifying in 2004 before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the U.S. Constitution and Public Religious Expression. File photo by Greg Whitesell/UPI | License Photo

MONTGOMERY, Ala., Sept. 30 (UPI) -- Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore was removed from the court through the remainder of his term after telling probate judges to defy federal orders on same-sex marriage licenses despite a Supreme Court ruling.

He was suspended in May, and the nine-member Alabama Court of the Judiciary issued the order Friday to keep the suspension in place until his term ends in 2019. Because of his age, 69, he can't run for election again.


It was the second time he was removed from office. In 2003, he refused to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building.

Gov. Robert Bentley won't fill the opening because it is a suspension and the court will continue with eight justices, said Yasamie R. August, press secretary for the governor. Justice Lyn Stuart will remain as acting chief justice, she said.

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"This decision clearly reflects the corrupt nature of our political and legal system at the highest level," Moore said.

Moore is filing an appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court, his attorney Mat Staver said.


In a press release, Staver said "to suspend Chief Justice Moore for the rest of his term is the same as removal. The COJ lacked the unanimous votes to remove the chief, so the majority instead chose to ignore the law and the rules."

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Mat Staver is founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, international nonprofit organization "dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics," according to the release.

In May, the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission filed a complaint with the court about Moore.

The court found him guilty of six charges of violation of Canons of Judicial Ethics in the order issued on Jan. 6 to the 68 probate judges.

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"For these violations, Chief Justice Moore is hereby suspended from office without pay for the remainder of his term. This suspension is effective immediately," the order stated.

In its 50-page order, the panel noted its decision is only about following the canons and is not about same-sex marriage.

"At the outset, this court emphasizes that this case is concerned only with alleged violations of the Canons of Jucial Ethics," the COJ wrote. "This case is not about whether same-sex marriage should be permitted: Indeed, we recognize that a majority of voters in Alabama adopted a constitutional amendment in 2006 banning same-sex marriage, as did a majority of states over the last 15 years."


And they discredited Moore's claim that his order was "merely to provide a 'status update' to the state's probate judges."

The court's choices were to acquit Moore, remove him from the bench, suspend him without pay or issue a statement of censure expressing disapproval. Removal from the bench required a unanimous decision and the other sanctions required a minimum 6-3 vote.

Moore testified in his own defense Wednesday in front of the COJ.

Nine years after being removed from office the first time, he was was elected to the job in 2012.

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