Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore suspended over stance on gay marriage

Chief Justice Moore has maintained that Alabama's state law supersedes the US Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

Mickey Welsh/Montgomery Advertiser/AP
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore testifies during his ethics trial before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary at the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery, Ala., on Sept. 28, 2016.

The chief justice of Alabama's Supreme Court, charged with defying federal court rulings that permit same-sex marriage, was suspended on Friday for a second time after being found guilty of violating judicial ethics, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary ruled.

Chief Justice Roy Moore had gone on trial Wednesday on charges that he violated Alabama's canons of judicial ethics with a Jan. 6 order that said probate judges were bound by state law banning gay marriage.

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended Justice Moore, effective immediately, without pay for the remainder of his term, saying in a ruling that it had found "clear and convincing evidence" of ethical violations.

Moore's attorney said in a statement that he planned to appeal the decision to the Alabama Supreme Court.

The judiciary court's decision said Moore's Jan. 6 order to the probate judges showed "disregard for binding federal law."

This followed the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark June 2015 decision giving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry in all 50 states.

The chief justice, an outspoken opponent of same-sex unions, has insisted there was uncertainty among the state's probate judges after conflicting opinions on gay marriage from state and federal courts.

Moore's stance may seem odd given the Supreme Court decision but, as the Christian Science Monitor's Patrik Jonsson has reported, the chief justice is anything but typical.

He’s been compared to a modern-day George Wallace, the former Alabama governor who made the iconic “stand in the school house door” in defiance of federal rulings to integrate schools.

For many Americans, the attempt to essentially rewrite law is puzzling. But for many in Alabama and the broader South, Moore is just the sort of man they want atop their highest courts – someone not inclined to bow to Washington and who openly admits that his highest law is the Bible.

And he isn't bowing to the judiciary court's decision either.

"To suspend Chief Justice Moore for the duration of his term is a miscarriage of justice and we will appeal this case to the Alabama Supreme Court. This case is far from over," said Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, which is representing Moore, in a statement.

The ruling also noted Moore's history with the state's judiciary court. In 2003, Moore was removed from the bench for defying a federal order to take down a Ten Commandments Monument he had installed in the state's judicial building. Voters re-elected him as chief justice in 2012.

The charges against him came after a series of ethics complaints filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has said Moore should be removed from office.

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