Alabama Chief Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore has denied that he encouraged probate judges to defy the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that legalized marriage equality nationwide.
Calling the charges “ridiculous,” Moore argued that he merely provided a status update to Alabama’s 68 probate judges, reports FOX News. Moore’s administrative order to those judges explained that, because an earlier ruling to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples had not been rescinded, the order remained in effect even after the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision.
“I don’t encourage anyone to defy a federal court or state court order,” Moore said. “I gave them a status in the case, a status of the facts that these orders exist. That is all I did.”
The Court of the Judiciary is tasked with considering the intent behind Moore’s order. The Judicial Inquiry Commission, which brought the charges against him, alleges that Moore was trying to abuse his power to block same-sex marriage.
But Moore insists his memo was meant to provide guidance to probate judges who had been asking for guidance about whether the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling was still in effect.
John Carroll, a lawyer for the Judicial Inquiry Commission, told the court in August that Moore’s purpose was clear and now he’s simply trying to avoid the consequences of his actions.
“He was on a mission not to recognize federal law on same-sex couples,” Carroll said.
Mat Staver, an attorney from the right-wing legal organization Liberty Counsel, which is representing Moore, has accused the Judicial Inquiry Commission of bringing “politically motivated” charges against his client.
Even if found a majority of the members of the Court of the Judiciary believe Moore violated judicial ethics, it would require a unanimous vote to remove Moore from the bench. If that happens, it would mark the second time in 13 years that Moore was forcibly removed from office. In 2003, Moore was removed for defying a court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state court building.
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