MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has been suspended following complaints over his instructions to probate judges.
The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission issued a complaint charging Moore with failing to uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary and failing to perform the duties of his office impartially related to his administrative order to state probate judges on January 6, 2016.
The dispute centers on Moore’s instructions that probate judges in Alabama should follow state law regarding same-sex marriage which conflicts with a federal court ruling.
The complaint says Moore’s order directed or appeared to direct probate judges to violate a federal court injunction they were required to obey.
From their headquarters overlooking the Alabama Supreme Court, Southern Poverty Law Center president Richard Cohen is rejoicing over Moore’s suspension.
“You know in 2003 Moore was thrown off the bench because he defied a federal court order. This time he’s a suggested or told 68 probate judges to violate a federal court order. So I think it’s much, much worse. And I think the Court of the Judiciary will absolutely consider the case very carefully I think, but I think that ultimately they’ll do the same thing they did before, throw him off the bench,” Cohen said.
Moore says there’s nothing in writing where he ever told anybody to disobey a federal court order. Moore’s supporters argue the Judicial Inquiry Commission has overstepped its boundaries. Moore’s attorney calls the charges baseless and says he expects to have them thrown out. He’s planning to go on the offensive—over what he calls a serious breach—relating to the release of the complaint.
“The charges are outrageous,” Moore’s attorney Mat Staver said. “We believe that these charges have no basis, no foundation, and we’ll get them dismissed. We’ll go before the court of judiciary and we will get these cases, these charges dismissed. Moreover in addition to that we will go after the members of the JIC who leaked this information to the media before the charges were made public.”
Staver says that unlike the 2003 10 Commandments controversy, Moore is not a federal defendant in this case.
Lt. Gov Kay Ivey released a statement about the complaints Moore is facing. Her statement can be read below.“I am deeply concerned by the charges the Judicial Inquiry Commission filed against Chief Justice Roy Moore. It is my understanding Alabama is the only state suspending a Judge while a complaint is considered by the Court of the Judiciary. The rule of law and due process are concepts fundamental to our legal system. I hope the Court of the Judiciary will act quickly. In this interim, I’m thankful that Alabama has public servants like Justice Lyn Stuart to keep our courts on track during this difficult time. Currently, there are clouds hanging over all three branches of state government. As a result, the World is watching – all eyes are on the State of Alabama, for the wrong reasons. I continue to pray for our State and believe our best days are ahead of us – I believe in Alabama, its people and the rule of law.”
Unless Moore reaches a settlement, the next step will be a trial before the Alabama County of the Judiciary on the charges.