Metro Weekly

Alabama’s anti-LGBT Chief Justice to be tried for ethics violations

Roy Moore is accused of ordering probate judges to defy the Supreme Court's marriage equality decision

Roy Moore - Credit: Alabama Supreme Court
Roy Moore – Credit: Alabama Supreme Court

Alabama Chief Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore will be tried next month on judicial ethics charges stemming from an order telling state probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Moore’s fate was sealed on Monday after the Alabama Court of the Judiciary issued an order denying his lawyers’ request to drop the charges, the Birmingham News reports. Moore has been suspended from the bench while he awaits trial.

He is accused of trying to block same-sex marriages even after federal courts ruled in favor of allowing gays and lesbians to marry. In January, Moore issued a ruling telling judges that an Alabama Supreme Court order from March 2015, which ordered them not to issue same-sex marriage licenses, was still in place.

Moore’s reasoning directly defied the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission argued that the court should immediately remove Moore from the bench, but their motion was denied.

Mat Staver, Moore’s attorney from the conservative legal organization Liberty Counsel, argued that there was no need for a trial. Staver said the court already has all the information it needs to issue a ruling as to whether Moore violated judicial ethics.

He also argued that Moore’s order was not intended to urge probate judges to disobey pro-gay rulings from the Supreme Court and other federal courts. Rather, the intent was to simply inform probate judges that the Alabama Supreme Court had never rescinded its March 2015 order.

But John Carroll, representing the Judicial Inquiry Commission, argued that Moore “has abused his power to pursue his personal agenda.”

Moore’s trial has been scheduled for Sept. 28. Attorneys for Moore and the Judicial Inquiry Commission don’t see the trial lasting more than a day.

Moore was previously removed from the bench in 2003 after defying a court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state court building. He ran for governor twice, in 2006 and 2010, appealing to social conservatives as part of his platform, but lost the Republican primary both times. He then ran for his old position as chief justice in 2012, winning in a tight race with 51.8 percent of the vote.

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