Friday, September 30, 2016

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore suspended from office over same-sex marriage order

Court of Judiciary finds him guilty on all six counts

By Tim Lockette, Star Staff Writer,

45 min ago

A panel of judges suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore from office for the remainder of his term Friday, finding Moore guilty on all six charges related to his order telling probate judges to enforce the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Members of the Court of the Judiciary cited Moore’s “disregard for binding federal law” and “his history with this court” as their reasons for suspending the judge without pay, according to their 50-page ruling against the judge.

In January, six months after the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, Moore issued an order telling the state’s probate judges they had a “ministerial duty” to enforce Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage, due to a challenge filed in state court.

The order had little impact. Most counties continued to issue marriage licenses to all, gay and straight. Some counties don’t issue marriage licenses to anyone, but those battle lines were largely drawn before Moore’s order.

Same-sex marriage proponents filed a complaint against Moore with the state’s Judicial Inquiry Commission, arguing that by telling probate judges to defy federal court orders, Moore had violated judicial ethics. On the stand Wednesday, Moore claimed that his order was not a directive to judges, just advice.

“I would never tell them what to do, except to advise them,” Moore said Wednesday.

The nine-member court disagreed. They cited Moore’s last trial before the court – he was removed from office in 2003 after disobeying a court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the Supreme Court building in Montgomery – as evidence of a pattern of behavior.

“Chief Justice Moore’s arguments that his actions and words mean something other than what they clearly express is not a new strategy,” the judges wrote.

The order notes that Moore’s complete removal from office would require a unanimous vote, and says that a majority of judges support Moore’s suspension.

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