Alabama Supreme Court chief justice suspended over same-sex marriage refusal

Roy Moore was removed as chief justice from the Alabama Supreme Court 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

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 Judiciaryissued the order Friday to keep the suspension in place until his term ends in 2019.

Gov. Robert Bentley will name a replacement for Moore.

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

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.

“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, who testified in his own defense Wednesday in front of the COJ, can appeal the ruling to the Alabama Supreme Court.

In 2003, Moore was removed as chief justice on the decision by the COJ and upheld by the state Supreme Court after refusing a federal court order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments he placed in the state judicial building. He was re-elected to the job in 2012.


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