Alabama Supreme Court Upholds Chief Justice Removal

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (CN) – Embattled Alabama  Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is officially out of a job.

In a 66-page decision, the Alabama Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a decision from the Court of the Judiciary that ousted Moore from his position after he ordered probate judges across the state to disobey federal rulings that required them to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

On September 30 2016, Moore was suspended by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary for the remainder of his term after he was found guilty of violating the canons of judicial ethics following an investigation by the Alabama Judicial Commission.

In its decision, the Supreme Court upheld all six charges against Moore finding the Court of Judiciary had “clear and convincing evidence to support its finding that Chief Justice Moore willfully issued an order directing the probate judges to disregard a binding federal-court injunction”.

Moore had argued on his appeal that the Judicial Inquiry Commission and the Court of Judiciary lacked jurisdiction to investigate the administrative order he gave to the probate judges and the Commission had failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that he violated any of the Canons of Judicial Ethics.

However, the Supreme Court order says that Moore had “ordered and directed” each of the probate judges to halt the issuance of marriage licenses knowing they were subject to the federal-court ruling. Additionally, the JIC and Court of Judiciary were not tasked with reviewing his order, but rather if, in issuing the administrative order to the judges, Moore violated a Canon of Judicial Ethics.

The Supreme Court determined that there is “no indication that the sanction imposed was plainly and palpably wrong, manifestly unjust, or without supporting evidence, we shall not disturb the sanction imposed.”

In a press conference following the decision, Moore said he still considers himself chief justice and that his removal was political. Moore said, “This was a politically motivated prosecution from the very beginning, from the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Judicial Inquiry Commission, with certain transgender and homosexual groups to remove me from public office because of my stand on same-sex marriage.” Moore continued, “I have done my duty under the laws of this state to stand for the undeniable truth that God ordained marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

President of the Southern Poverty Law Center Richard Cohen said in a statement after the ruling, “Roy Moore’s violation of the Canons of Judicial Ethics was egregious. He got what he deserved. We’ll all be better off without the Ayatollah of Alabama as our chief justice.”

Moore’s public office days may not be over. He said today that he will reveal plans next week about whether he will be running for the US Senate seat left by Jeff Sessions when he became Attorney General under the Trump administration.