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.