(CN) – Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore told a judicial discipline panel that it was absurd to accuse him of encouraging the state’s 68 probate judges to defy a U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage.
Moore said he was merely carrying out his duties when he reminded the judges that the Alabama Supreme Court had not rescinded its earlier order to refuse licenses to same-sex couples, and it remained in effect despite the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
“I don’t encourage anyone to defy a federal court or state court order … I gave them a status in the case, a status of the facts that these orders exist. That is all I did,” Moore said.
The chief justice could be removed from office for the second time in 13 years if the Court of the Judiciary finds he violated the state’s canons of judicial ethics.
Moore was to be cross-examined by a lawyer for the state’s Judicial Inquiry Commission later Wednesday.
The Court of the Judiciary is effectively trying to look back in time and into the mind of the often outspoken and controversial jurist when he issued his memo in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling.
The Judicial Inquiry Commission contends he was making a defiant stand to try and continue to block gay marriage in Alabama.
Moore says he was doing nothing of the kind, but only responding to the concerns of some probate judges who questioned the status of the state’s order.
Mat Staver, who is representing Moore, said the commission has overstepped its authority and the charges against the chief judge are politically motivated.
A lawyer for the commission told the court last month that Moore clearly did not want to recognize the federal ruling, and is now trying to “pretend away” the charges to save his own skin.
The Court of the Judiciary in 2003 removed Moore as chief justice after he refused to obey a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of the state judicial building.
He was re-elected in 2012.
His removal requires a unanimous vote by the Court of the Judiciary’s nine members.
William Nelson, left, of Double Springs, holds a sign while sitting amongst demonstrators during the trial of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore Wednesday Sept. 28, 2016, at the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery, Ala. (Julie Bennett/AL.com via AP)
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