The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is calling for the removal of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore after news that Moore said state probate judges remain under a court order to refuse marriage licenses to gay couples despite a U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage over six months ago.
The SPLC filed a supplement Wednesday to an ongoing ethics complaint they have against the chief justice.
“Chief Justice Roy Moore is once again demonstrating that he is unfit to hold office,” SPLC President Richard Cohen said. “Despite the fact that Alabama probate judges are under a federal court order that bars them from discriminating against same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses, Justice Moore has irresponsibly advised them to do the opposite. You would think after being removed from the bench once before that the chief justice would know better.”
The SPLC complaint describes how it thinks Moore’s administrative order issued violates the Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics, which instruct judges to “respect and comply with the law” and promote “public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”
Following the complaint, the Judicial Inquiry Commission could recommend Moore face ethics charges in the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. That’s nothing new to Moore, who was removed as chief justice 13 years ago after refusing to comply with a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building in Montgomery.
“Just as Chief Justice Moore’s previous refusal to comply with a federal court order disqualified him for judicial office and necessitated his removal from the bench, his advising other judges to violate a federal court order also requires his removal as Chief Justice of this state’s highest court,” the supplement from SPLC states.
Moore doesn’t see it that way. He says the Alabama Supreme Court never lifted a March directive to probate judges to refuse licenses to gay couples.
“Until further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court, the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court that Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act remain in full force and effect,” Moore wrote.