Alabama GOP calls for changes in how the state punishes judges

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Alabama’s process for punishing judges needs to be revised, says the Alabama Republican State Executive Committee, spurred by the case against Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.

The group overwhelmingly passed a pair of resolutions this week aimed at the rules leading to the suspension of Moore, as well as those governing the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC).

Moore is facing charges filed by the JIC over an administrative order he issued in January 2016. The chief judge reminded probate judges that the Alabama Supreme Court barred them from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite rulings by both federal and the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

Alabama law maintains a judge being punished can only appeal to the state Supreme Court.

The Alabama Republican Party’s executive committee is asking the state Legislature pass a law abolishing the rule that automatically suspends when charges are filed by the JIC. A bill would require final legislative approval of any Alabama Supreme Court decisions that support the removal of a judge from the bench.

The resolution also seeks to change the JIC to an elected post.

Represented by Liberty Counsel, Moore, under suspension since April, faces trial Sept. 28.

“The current situation allows the JIC too much power and the ability to punish judges without due process,” said Mat Staver, founder and chair of Liberty Counsel. “Chief Justice Roy Moore should have never been suspended from his bench from these baseless charges. The JIC has become an arm of the Southern Poverty Law Center and other politically motivated groups. The JIC is not supposed to be politically biased, but it has become so. The JIC needs to be reined in.”

Founded in 1989, Liberty Counsel is a nonprofit legal and policy organization which they say is dedicated to providing pro bono assistance and representation related to topics of “advancing religious freedom” and the “sanctity of life.”

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