Chief judge who de­fied mar­riage law is re­moved

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Kim Chan­dler

The same ju­rist got in trou­ble more than a decade ago for re­fus­ing to re­move a Ten Com­mand­ments mon­u­ment.

Alabama Chief Jus­tice Roy Moore was re­moved from the bench Fri­day for de­fy­ing the U.S. Supreme Court on gay mar­riage, more than a decade af­ter he got in trou­ble for re­fus­ing fed­eral or­ders to move a Ten Com­mand­ments mon­u­ment.

By sus­pend­ing Moore for the rest of his term, the nine­mem­ber Alabama Court of the Ju­di­ciary has ef­fec­tively re­moved him from of­fice for the sec­ond time.

The out­spo­ken Christian con­ser­va­tive was ousted from of­fice in 2013 for his stand in de­fense of the 2 ½ ton mon­u­ment he had in­stalled in the state ju­di­cial build­ing, but vot­ers later re-elected him.

The ju­di­ciary court ruled that Moore de­fied law al­ready clearly set­tled by the high court’s Oberge­fell vs. Hodges rul­ing when he told Alabama’s pro­bate judges six months later that they were still bound by a 2015 state court or­der to deny mar­riage li­censes to gays and les­bians.

“Be­yond ques­tion, at the time he is­sued the Jan­uary 6, 2016 or­der, Chief Jus­tice Roy Moore knew about Oberge­fell and its clear hold­ing that the United States Con­sti­tu­tion pro­tects the right of same-sex cou­ples to marry,” the court wrote in the unan­i­mous de­ci­sion.

They said Moore also flouted a fed­eral judge’s or­der that en­joined the judges from en­forc­ing Alabama’s same sex mar­riage ban af­ter the U.S. Supreme Court’s de­ci­sion.

The 50-page de­ci­sion in­di­cated that a ma­jor­ity of jus­tices wanted to com­pletely re­move Moore — not just sus­pend him with­out pay — but they didn’t have the unan­i­mous agree­ment. The ef­fect, though, is the same. Moore is off the bench.

Moore’s pun­ish­ment comes as all three branches of Alabama’s gov­ern­ment face up­heaval. The Repub-

li­can speaker of the state House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives was re­moved from of­fice this sum­mer for crim­i­nal ethics vi­o­la­tions.

A leg­isla­tive com­mit­tee is weigh­ing whether Gov. Robert Bent­ley should be im­peached over a scan­dal in­volv­ing a top aide.

The pres­i­dent of the civil rights or­ga­ni­za­tion that filed the ethics com­plaint against Moore praised the de­ci­sion as a vic­tory for the state.

“Moore was elected to be a judge, not a preacher. It’s some­thing that he never seemed to un­der­stand.

The peo­ple of Alabama who cher­ish the rule of law are not go­ing to miss the Ayatollah of Alabama,” said Richard Co­hen, of the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter.

A lawyer for Moore called the de­ci­sion a “mis­car­riage of jus­tice” and an­nounced an ap­peal to the Alabama Supreme Court.

“The rule of law should trump po­lit­i­cal agen­das. Sadly, to­day that is not the case. What this de­ci­sion tells us to­day is that Mont­gomery has a long way to go to weed out abuse of po­lit­i­cal power and re­store the rule of law,” said at­tor­ney Mat Staver, who also rep­re­sented Ken­tucky clerk Kim Davis in her re­fusal to is­sue mar­riage li­censes to gay cou­ples.

Moore, 69, had al­ready been sus­pended from the bench since May, when the state’s Ju­di­cial In­quiry Com­mis­sion ac­cused him of vi­o­lat­ing ju­di­cial ethics. By the end of his term in 2019, he’ll be be­yond the age limit of 70 for judges, un­less vot­ers raise the limit in Novem­ber.

Tes­ti­fy­ing un­der oath Wed­nes­day, Moore said he was sim­ply not­ing a fact — that the Alabama Supreme Court’s or­der af­firm­ing the state’s mar­riage ban had not been lifted.

“I gave them a sta­tus in the case, a sta­tus of the facts that these or­ders ex­ist. That is all I did,” Moore tes­ti­fied.

But lawyers for the Ju­di­cial In­quiry Com­mis­sion told the court that Moore — who once re­ferred to ju­di­cial rul­ings al­low­ing gay mar­riage as “tyranny” — had been on a mis­sion to block gay mar­riage from com­ing to Alabama.

“We are here 13 years later be­cause the Chief Jus­tice learned noth­ing from his first re­moval. He con­tin­ues to defy the law,” ar­gued John Car­roll, a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing the com­mis­sion.

Moore

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