Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has appealed his suspension from office to a special Supreme Court appointed to hear that appeal. Liberty Counsel filed an appeal brief on Moore’s behalf on Tuesday night. Today was the deadline to file it. In September, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended Moore without pay for the remainder of his term, finding that he violated judicial ethics.
The main issue was an administrative order Moore wrote to probate judges in January telling them they still had a duty to enforce Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriages. The administrative order came about six months after the U.S. Supreme Court had legalized gay marriage nationwide in June 2015.
Moore has said his order was to advise judges on the status of an Alabama Supreme Court ruling from March 2015 upholding the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and to clear up confusion. But the Court of the Judiciary said it did not find that argument credible, finding that Moore sought to have probate judges defy the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
From the Liberty Counsel:
Liberty Counsel filed a 95-page brief on behalf of Chief Justice Roy Moore with the specially selected panel of judges at the Alabama Supreme Court. The brief contains an array of legal arguments against the charges brought against him by the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) and the ruling by the Court of the Judiciary (COJ).
The brief argues that the JIC does not have jurisdictional authority to review administrative orders of the Alabama Chief Justice. Review of such administrative orders are sole prerogative of the Alabama Supreme Court. In this case, the Alabama Supreme Court did not take any action to modify, set aside, and overrule the Administrative Order of January 6, 2016, which is the sole basis of the JIC charges.
The COJ violated Rule 16 which requires a unanimous 9-0 vote to remove a judge from office. The 27-month suspension is a de facto removal and the COJ admitted it did not have the required nine votes to remove Chief Justice Moore. This action clearly violates Rule 16, and for this reason alone the decision by the COJ should be dismissed. The penalty of the permanent suspension from the bench is the most severe in the history of Alabama. The longest any judge has been suspended since Rule 16 was adopted in 2001 was six months.
From the Southern Poverty Law Center:
“The facts of this case are crystal clear. As Alabama chief justice, Roy Moore made a decision to advocate for his personal religious beliefs rather than fulfill his oath to uphold the United States Constitution. He told the state’s 68 probate judges to violate a federal court order. In our opinion, the Court of the Judiciary got it right and was well within its authority to suspend Moore from the bench. The rule of law won the day.”