Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was ousted from office thirteen years ago over his refusal to remove Ten Commandment display from the state judicial building, has been suspended from his office and faces a hearing before state's Court of Judiciary for telling probate judges to comply with the state's same-sex marriage ban rather than the US Supreme Court ruling which legalized same-sex marriages across the country.
Moore's instructions to the probate judges on same-sex marriage ban resulted from months-long complex legal battle in Alabama, when in his capacity as chief justice, he asked them to uphold state's earlier law to end "confusion and uncertainty."
"Confusion and uncertainty exist among the probate judges of this State as to the effect of Obergefell on the 'existing orders'," he wrote. "Many probate judges are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in accordance with Obergefell; others are issuing marriage licenses only to couples of the opposite gender or have ceased issuing all marriage licenses. This disparity affects the administration of justice in this State."
The state's Judicial Inquiry Commission charged Moore with six counts of violating judicial ethics and suspended him for acting in opposition to the Supreme Court's order to validate same-sex marriages. Moore maintained that the federal court's decision only pertained to the four states that were involved in the legal battle over this matter. He argued that issuing same-sex marriage licenses would violate the Alabama Constitution.
"By issuing his unilateral order of January 6, 2016, Chief Justice Moore flagrantly disregarded a fundamental constitutional right guaranteed in all states as declared by the United States Court in Obergefell," the Judicial Inquiry Commission wrote in its 32-page report.
The Court of Judiciary will assess the charges against Moore which cite violation of judicial ethics, and if found guilty, he could face further action including removal from office.
In his response, Moore said he did not ask probate judges to reject federal court order, but told them that the Alabama Supreme Court order of same-sex marriage ban remained in force.
"There is nothing in writing that you will find that I told anybody to disobey a federal court order. That's not what I said," he said last month.
Moore said that the commission had no authority to preside over his administrative orders given to probate judges, and that the issue can be resolved in Supreme Court only. His attorney Matt Staver also said that Alabama court's decision regarding same-sex marriage ban was "a disagreement between state and federal courts on an issue."
"We intend to fight this agenda vigorously and expect to prevail," Moore said in a statement.
This is the second time a complaint has been filed against Moore. In 2003, he was removed from his position as chief justice by the JIC after he defied federal court orders to remove a two-ton Ten Commandment monument from court building. He was voted back into the office in 2012.