Alabama Chief Justice Suspended For Order Defying Same Sex Marriage

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Kevin Daley Supreme Court correspondent
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Roy Moore, Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, is being suspended from his post for the second time, after he ordered state probate judges not to perform same-sex marriages.

Moore was previously removed from the bench in 2003 for refusing to carry out a federal order to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments from the state Supreme Court.

The chief justice issued an order in January ordering state judges to disregard the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. The order triggered a disciplinary hearing before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary, a panel of lawyers and judges who hear complaints against judges for violations of the Canon of Judicial Ethics. Their order suspending him for the rest of his term effectively ends his tenure on the state’s highest court. Moore will not be eligible to seek another term when his current one expires in 2019 due to his age.

“He was instructing state officers to disregard a binding injunction that was consistent with controlling Supreme Court precedent,” Ronald Krotoszynski, a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law, told The New York Times. “It was a remarkable thing for him to do.” (RELATED: Trump Deposition Videos Will Drop Today)

The panel found that the order jeopardized the chief justice’s partiality, and compromised his duty to enforce and uphold the law.

Moore’s lawyers argue that the suspension order is the functional equivalent of his removal. The Court of the Judiciary must vote unanimously to strip a judge of his office. Though the panel was unanimous in supporting his suspension, only a majority supported his full removal.

“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,” said Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, the public interest law firm representing Moore.

Though Moore tracks a conservative course on social issues, he is not an archetypal conservative. His opinions contain strong anti-big business streak, and he expresses misgivings about mandatory-minimum drug sentences.

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