Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has been suspended from the bench for the remainder of his term for encouraging probate judges to defy federal order and refuse marriage licenses to gay couples.
The nine-member Alabama Court of the Judiciary (COJ) unanimously found Moore guilty on six charges relating to violations of the canon of judicial ethics, and issued his suspension from the bench on Friday.
“For these violations, Chief Justice Moore is hereby suspended from office without pay for the remainder of his term. This suspension is effective immediately,” the order stated.
Moore’s term ends in 2019, but due of his age, 69, he cannot run for re-election.
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley will not name a replacement as he says Moore was suspended from the bench, rather than removed.
According to Yasamie August, press secretary for Bentley, Justice Lyn Stuart will continue in the role of Acting Chief Justice. The court will only function with the eight remaining justices.
Moore issued the following statement following his suspension:
This decision clearly reflects the corrupt nature of our political and legal system at the highest level.
After the Attorney General of Alabama declined to prosecute this case, the JIC employed the former legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) which filed the charges against me, at a cost of up to $75,000.00 to the taxpayers of Alabama.
During the trial which lasted approximately four hours, the JIC produced no witnesses, no affidavits, and no evidence to meet their burden of proving by “clear and convincing” evidence that the Administrative order of January 6, 2016 violated the Canons of Judicial Ethics.
This was a politically motivated effort by radical homosexual and transgender groups to remove me as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court because of outspoken opposition to their immoral agenda.
This opinion violates not only the legal standards of evidence but also the rule of law which states that no judge can be removed from office except by unanimous vote.
The canons of judicial ethics Moore was found guilty of violating are:
- Canon 1: in that he failed to uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary.
- Canon 2: in that he failed to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all his activities.
- Canon 2A: in that he failed to respect and comply with the law and failed to conduct himself at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
- Canon 2B: in that he failed to avoid conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute.
- Canon 3: in that he failed to perform the duties of his office impartially.
- Canon 3A(6): in that he failed to abstain from public comment about a pending proceeding in his own court.
The suspension is Moore’s second, his first ending in an eventual removal from office in 2003 for violating a federal judge’s order to remove a large Ten Commandments monument from public property. Moore was subsequently re-elected to his position in 2010 in a landslide win.