Alas, poor Roy! Alabama Supreme Court upholds his removal from the bench

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama’s former Supreme Court Homophobe in Chief Roy Moore.

Former Alabama State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore got a big diss from seven retired Alabama Supreme Court justices this week when they upheld a decision by the state’s Judicial Inquiry Commission removing him from the bench. The seven were chosen to form a special Supreme Court to hear Moore’s appeal of the commission’s ruling.

The retired justices wrote in their decision, “We have previously determined that the charges were proven by clear and convincing evidence … we shall not disturb the sanction imposed.” The decision was issued Wednesday, April 19.

The commission removed Moore from office last year after he instructed the state’s probate judges — the officeholders tasked with issuing marriage licenses in that state — to ignore the June 26, 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned bans on same-sex marriage nationwide. Despite federal court rulings, Moore insisted that the SCOTUS ruling didn’t count in Alabama, and that his state’s marriage equality ban still ruled supreme there.

The Judicial Inquiry Commission was neither amused nor convinced and charged Moore with having “flagrantly disregarded and abused his authority.” Moore continued to argue, but he was still removed from the bench.

This special supreme court decision effectively ends Moore’s career as a judge. He was suspended from his current term, which would not have expired until 2019, and because of his age — 69 — running for re-election then is not possible. And as the Alabama Media Group reported, “Moore can’t appeal the ruling to the federal courts because there are no federal issues.”

In a press conference after the ruling was announced, Moore insisted that he has “done my duty under the laws of this state to stand for the undeniable truth that God ordained marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” He also said that his prosecution, based on an ethics complaint filed by Southern Poverty Law Center, was politically motivated and insisted that he remains Chief Justice despite the suspension.

Richard Cohen, president of SPLC (which is based in Alabama), told Alabama Media Group that Moore “got what he deserved. We’ll all be better off without the Ayatollah of Alabama as our chief justice.”

Moore has threatened — I mean, suggested — that he might run for the U.S. Senate now.

—  Tammye Nash

Roy Moore receives ‘Bill of Rights Award’

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, 2016 Bill of Rights Award winner

Roy Moore, the former chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court who was suspended from that position last May after ordering the state’s probate judges to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling and instead continue to enforce Alabama’s unconstitutional ban on same-sex marriage, last month was named the recipient of the 2016 Bill of Rights Award.

Carris Kocher, chair of the Bill of Rights Bicentennial Committee of Concordville, Penn., the organization that sponsors the annual Bill of Rights Award, made the announcement last month at the 25th annual Bill of Rights Commemorative Banquet in New Holland, Penn.

Kocher said that Moore won the award for his “courageous standing on the 10th Amendment,” and the press release announcing the award points out that — to no one’s surprise — “Like Judge Roy Moore, Mrs. Kocher believes criminal law and marriage law fall entirely under the jurisdiction of state law.”

(The 10th Amendment, for those who may not remember, is the one that says any powers not expressly given to the federal government or expressly prohibited to the states by the U.S. Constitution is “reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”

Kocher added, “This is the constitutional ground on which Judge Roy Moore has standing in his actions as the chief justice of Alabama. It would be well for all of us to have a look at what rights ‘of the states’ and what other rights ‘of the people’ this amendment has reference to.”

Mat Staver, the “founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel” — that is the right-wing organization that provides pro bono legal representation to haters who don’t want to have to treat LGBT people as equal citizens — said that he “cannot think of anyone who deserves the 2016 Bill of Rights Award more than Chief Justice Roy Moore. This award is an honorable recognition of his courage to faithfully defend the Constitution. The Liberty Counsel stands proudly with Chief Justice Moore on the front lines of battle to uphold justice in the courts and to preserve the America our founders gave us.”

(What he really means is: “We agree with FORMER Chief Justice Roy Moore that since we don’t like gay people or anybody else that disagrees with us, we should be able to discriminate against them however we want, and we should be able to act like it is 1776 instead of 2017.”)

According to the press release, The Bill of Rights Bicentennial Committee was founded in 1990 to “promote observance of the Bill of Rights Bicentennial,” which was on Dec. 15, 1991. The first “commemorative banquet” was in 1992, and is now held each year on Dec. 15. “It includes musical entertainment and special speakers along with the announcement of the award recipients.” (Photos from this year’s event show about 40-50 people sitting at two long tables.)

And just in case you have some ideas on who deserves the 2017 Bill of Rights Award, nominations will be accepted through Dec. 1. Mail your nominations to P.O. Box 912, Concordville, Penn. 19331.

—  Tammye Nash

Judge rejects Roy Moore’s efforts to have ethics complaint dismissed

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is scheduled to go on trial Sept. 28 on charges that he violated judicial ethics by repeatedly refusing to abide by the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2015 ruling, in Obergefell v. Hodges, on marriage equality, and that he encouraged the 68 probate judges in the state — the elected officials that issue marriage licenses in Alabama — to ignore the ruling, too.

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary, the panel that disciplines judges in the state, refused Moore’s motion to dismiss the ethics complaint against him. But the panel also refused a motion from the group of civil rights organizations, led by the Southern Poverty Law Center, that filed the complaint to have Moore removed from office immediately.

At the September hearing, a panel of nine judges will determine whether Moore did, indeed, violate judicial ethics and if he did, what punishment he will face. If the judges determine that he did violate ethics, Moore could be removed from his seat on the state Supreme Court.

If that happens, it will be the second time that Moore will have been removed from the court. He was ousted from the office in 2003 after refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monuments from the state judicial building. But the state’s voters returned him to the same office in 2012.

Alabama’s Judicial Inquiry Commission suspended Moore in May based on the complaint.

The Associated Press has compiled this timeline of Moore’s efforts to stop same-sex marriage in Alabama.

—  Tammye Nash

Alabama’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore suspended

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama’s Homophobe and Asshole in Chief, state Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, has been suspended for refusing to acknowledge the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last summer recognizing marriage equality nationwide.

The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission, in a filing released Friday, May 6, wrote, “Chief Justice Moore flagrantly disregarded and abused his authority as the chief administrative officer of Alabama’s judicial branch.

As reported by The Washington Post, Moore faces six charges of violating judicial ethics, all stemming for his Jan. 6 order telling state probate judges — the ones who issue marriage licenses in Alabama — that they have a “ministerial duty” to abide by state law (even though a federal Supreme Court ruling overrides state law) limiting marriage to opposite-sex cases.

The commission ruled that Moore’s order violated not only the June 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, but two other court decisions as well.

As a result of the ruling, Moore is automatically suspended from the bench. The state Court of the Judiciary will ultimately decide whether Moore is guilty of violating judicial ethics.

Moore was removed from his seat as state Supreme Court chief justice in 2003 after refusing a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument he had erected in the state judicial building in Montgomery. But the people of Alabama re-elected him 2012.

Last week’s ruling is a result of complaints filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In a statement following the ruling, SPLC President Richard Cohen said, “Moore has disgraced his office for far too long. He’s such a religious zealot, such an egomaniac that he thinks he doesn’t have to follow federal court rulings he disagrees with. For the good of the state, he should be kicked out of office. … We look forward to his trial in the Court of the Judiciary and his eventual removal from office once again.”

Moore, for his part, accused the Judicial Inquiry Commission of being influenced by LGBT rights advocates, saying “The JIC has chosen to listen to people like Ambrosia Starling, a professed transvestite, and other gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals, as well as organizations which support their agenda. We intend to fight this agenda vigorously and expect to prevail.”

Starling, the Post explained, is a self-described drag queen who Moore has singled out before, suggesting that she suffers from mental illness and alleging that she performed an “illegal” wedding ceremony. A local Unitarian Universalist minister, the Rev. Fred Hammond, disputed that latter claim in a blog post late last month, saying that it was he who performed the cerem

—  Tammye Nash

Marriage equality leads to new marriage equality rulings

PaulDavid5

Charles David Fancher, left, and Paul Hard. (Photo from Association of LGBT Issues in Counseling in Alabama)

Paul Hard filed one of the Alabama marriage equality lawsuits to force the state to recognize his marriage to Charles David Fancher. That case has now been resolved, according to Alabama Media Group.

Residents of Montgomery, Ala., Hard and Fancher were married in Massachusetts in 2011. Three months later, Fancher was killed in a car accident. Hard sued to get Alabama to recognize his marriage so he could pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.

The family opposing Hard was represented by the Foundation for Moral Law headed by Kayla Moore, wife of Alabama state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. Moore ordered Alabama county officials not to issue marriage licenses after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a stay on a lower court ruling that declared the state’s marriage law unconstitutional. That put marriage on hold in the state until the final marriage equality ruling.

The Foundation for Moral Law argued Hard’s marriage should not be recognized retroactively and even if it was, Hard is not entitled to money that was awarded in the case and being held in escrow because the couple was only married three months.

The judge in the Hard case ruled his marriage must be recognized retroactively and is entitled to the full spouse’s share. Nowhere in case law has a marriage been considered less valid because a couple was only married a few months.

The judge was asked to stay his ruling but he refused.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING (sorta): Alabama Supreme Court has lost its mind

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

The Alabama Supreme Court today (Monday, June 29) ordered all probate judges in the state to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately — even though the highest court in the land ruled three days ago that same-sex couples do have a constitutional right to legal marriage and that bans on same-sex marriage have been struck down, according to NewCivilRightsMovement.com.

The Alabama court’s reasoning is that parts of SCOTUS’ ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges are subject to appeal. To whom they plan to appeal wasn’t clear.

According to AL.com, Chief Justice Roy Moore initially said that the state court’s order prohibits probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but later backtracked to say he only meant they don’t have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Moore said that parties have 25 days in which to contest the U.S. Supreme Court ruling before it becomes a mandate, and that “In that 25-day period that [U.S. Supreme Court] order is not in effect. The [Alabama Supreme Court] order speaks for itself.”

Shannon Minter, an attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights who was involved in one of the lawsuits challenging Alabama’s marriage equality ban, said the Alabama Supreme Court’s order “has no practical effect. U.S. District Court Judge [Ginny] Granade [who struck down the marriage ban in two separate cases] already ordered Alabama’s probate judges to stop enforcing the marriage ban as soon as the Supreme Court rule, and that is binding immediately.”

NewCivilRightsMovement.com posted a Tweet from Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin saying probate judges should not stop issuing licenses. HRC’s Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said, “There is no justification for delaying or obstructing the clear message of the Supreme Court of the  United States — marriage equality must begin in Alabama, and probate judges who stand in the way of that legal imperative risk exposing themselves to legal consequences. There is zero chance of marriage equality being reheard by the Supreme Court … .”

Alabama ACLU head Susan Watson called the Alabama Supreme Court’s order “a stalling tactic” and also warned that judges that refuse to issue the licenses could face sanctions. And Jefferson County Probate Judge Sheri Friday told AL.com, “I am not real clear what it’s saying .. it’s very unclear,” and that she is continuing to issue licenses.

—  Tammye Nash

Alabama Senate OKs bill scrapping marriage completely

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore

Ever heard the expression “Cutting off your nose to spite your face”? That’s exactly what Alabama legislators are doing when it comes to the issue of marriage equality.

The Alabama Senate passed, on a 22-3 vote, SB 377 that eliminates marriage licenses all together in the state, instead requiring folks who might previously have gone to a probate judge to get a marriage license to enter into a contract basically stating they would have gotten a marriage license if they could have and then file that contract with the probate judge.

Attorney Jake Watson explained to WHNT 19 News: “[SB377] really does away with the traditional sense of a marriage certificate and what we’ve been dealing with in Alabama as far as marriage certificates for more than a hundred years, I believe.”

The problem, Watson added, is that SB 377 creates all kinds of confusion for those who rely on marriage to prove the connection between to the federal government, insurance companies and anyone else that might require them to be legally married. And, he said, it would put up another barrier for same-sex marriage.

“A statement that the parties are legally authorized to be married, that’s going to be the catch. What is legally authorized to be married? Under the State of Alabama Law, that would not include same-sex marriage,” he said.

SB 377 is, of course, Alabama’s way of saying, once again, “can’t make me! Nyahh, nyahh, nyahh” to the federal government, in the shadow of a looming U.S. Supreme Court decision that is expected to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide later this month. It is Alabama Legislature’s way of crawling along in the footsteps of right-wing-nut state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who ignored federal trial court rulings upholding marriage equality by Judge Callie Granade in his own state, who got the Alabama Supreme Court to follow along and has since pledged to fight equality to the bitter end.

SB 377 is making its way through the Alabama House right now. You can read the full text of the bill here.

—  Tammye Nash

Caleb Moore, son Alabama’s Chief Homophobe, blames drug arrest on vengeful liberals

Caleb Moore

Caleb Moore

Caleb Moore — the 24-year-old son of Alabama’s Chief Homophobe, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore — was arrested Sunday, March 15, and charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana. But Caleb swears he is innocent and blamed the whole thing on those nasty liberals who are out to get his dad, according to AL.com.

Roy Moore is the one who declared that Alabama doesn’t have legally acknowledge same-sex marriages, no matter what the federal courts — including the U.S. Supreme Court — say. Despite federal court rulings, Roy Moore told Alabama county probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and later led the state Supreme Court in ordering the probate judges not to abide by the federal court rulings.

Caleb Moore was arrested in Troy, Ala., after officers responding to a report of a break-in found him and some friends standing nearby, close to a pickup truck that reeked of pot. When they searched the truck, the officers found a bag containing marijuana and some Xanax pills in the glove compartment, along with Caleb’s passport. So they arrested him and took him to jail. He was later released on $8,500 bond.

But Caleb Moore has denied any wrongdoing, taking to Facebook on Monday to defend his honor and point out the real criminals with this post: “This is nothing more than a prime example of how media and crooked police officers and critics of my dad try to not only destroy his career for what he stands for but will go as far as trying to destroy his family. I am not a drug user as the drug test taken today will show. As for the malicious possession charges, justice will be served.”

Caleb Moore didn’t say Monday, March 16, whether his guilty plea to drug-related charges in St. Clair County in 2013, and his 2011 arrest in Crenshaw County for drug possession and driving under the influence were also the fault of vengeful liberals.

In an article posted Wednesday, March 18, on AL.com, Caleb Moore’s lawyer, Richard Jaffe, said that his client’s comments about crooked cops was just a product of his frustration and he really didn’t mean it. Jaffe also noted that Caleb Moore was one of five young men arrested on drug charges related to the Sunday incident. All of them have denied knowing there were any drugs in the truck.

Jaffe pointed out that Caleb Moore took a drug test the day he was arrested and that he passed that test.

AL.com’s Wednesday story notes that this was just the latest in a string of arrests for Caleb Moore, although he has apparently never served any jail time. Read about the previous arrests here.

Caleb Moore has acknowledged that he has had a troubled past and that he has struggled with drugs and drinking. But he says he is much more mature now (compared to March 2014, a month in which he was arrested twice in separate incidents related to possession and DUI) and that he now has “a closer walk with the Lord.” He said he never did anything more than most college students, but that his indiscretions were blown way out of proportion because of who his father is.

Caleb Moore attends Troy University and works for The Foundation for Moral Law, an organization founded by his father and of which his mother is president.

—  Tammye Nash

Alabama Supreme Court defies federal courts, orders judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

The Alabama Supreme Court late today (Tuesday, March 3) ordered all of the state’s probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in defiance of orders from a federal district court judge overturning the Alabama same-sex marriage ban, and a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court refusing to block the district judge’s order.

The Alabama Supreme Court is headed up by right-wing Chief Jerk… uh, Chief Justice Roy Moore, who has fought marriage equality tooth and nail. He has told probate judges they didn’t have to follow the federal court rulings, and last month told Fox News he has a moral responsibility to defy the U.S. Supreme Court if the court violates “God’s organic law” by ruling in favor of marriage equality.

The state’s highest court said Alabama wasn’t bound by this “new definition” of marriage, though marriage equality has “gained ascendancy in certain quarters of the country,” including the federal judiciary.

The supreme court’s ruling said: “As it has done for approximately two centuries, Alabama law allows for ‘marriage’ between only one man and one woman. Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law. Nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides this duty.”

The court also said, “ … state courts may interpret the United States Constitution independently from, and even contrary to, federal courts.”

Probate judges have five days to respond to the order.

Lawyers who represented same-sex couples seeking the right to marry in Alabama decried the ruling.

Shannon Minter with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, one of the organizations representing same-sex couples fighting for marriage equality in Alabama, called the ruling “deeply unfortunate” that “the Alabama Supreme Court is determined to be on the wrong side of history.”

—  Tammye Nash

Alabama GOP chair thinks God is really pissed

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore

The chair of Alabama’s Republican Party thinks God is pissed because same-sex couples can marry in his state.

“The state of Alabama and the United States of America will reap God’s wrath if we embrace and condone things that are abhorrent to God, such as redefining marriage as anything other than a union between one man and one woman,” Alabama Republican Party Chair Bill Armistead wrote this week.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Alabama:

A police officer in Madison, Ala., was arrested on Thursday, Feb. 12, for badly injuring an Indian man who doesn’t speak English who was walking around the neighborhood. He was visiting his son who lives there.

A 74-year-old child abuser was arrested in Alabama this week after being on the run for 30 years.

A Klan group is rallying the troops against those pesky new rights that began to be offered in Alabama. The state’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore must be very proud to have such reputable backers.

A teacher at Bob Jones High School in Madison, Ala., was placed on leave this week while Homeland Security investigates him and a DeKalb County, Ala., woman was indicted for torture and willful abuse of a 4-month-old child.

But God is pissed about same-sex couples getting married in Alabama. Interesting.

—  David Taffet