Roy Moore, the chief justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court, was suspended on Friday for the rest of his term by the Court of the Judiciary, which ruled that he violated judicial ethics.
Moore issued an order in January, six months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling which legalized same-sex marriage across the country, prohibiting probate judges in Alabama from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Soon after, the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission filed a complaint against Moore in May.
The Court of the Judiciary voted unanimously that he was guilty of failing to “perform the duties of his office impartially,” to “comply with the law,” and to “uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary,” among other charges, according to the ruling.
Moore’s suspension takes effect immediately, and will last until the rest of his term which was set to end in 2019. Given Moore’s age (69), he will be unable to be re-elected into judicial office, as Alabama law prohibits individuals 70 or older to be elected or nominated as a judge.
Additionally, the ruling stated Moore will be responsible to pay for the proceedings, and he will be suspended without pay for the rest of his term.
Liberty Counsel, which has been representing Moore, argued that the move was a “violation of the law” in that suspending Moore for the rest of his term was a “de facto removal from the bench” without actually undergoing the process of removal, which requires a unanimous 9-0 vote by members of the Court of the Judiciary.
“To suspend Chief Justice Moore for the rest of his term is the same as removal. The COJ lacked the unanimous votes to remove the Chief, so the majority instead chose to ignore the law and the rules,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said in a statement.
Liberty Counsel said that it is filing an appeal with the Alabama Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the Southern Poverty Law Center said the Court of the Judiciary “has done the citizens of Alabama a great service” in suspending Moore.
“Moore was elected to be a judge, not a preacher,” the group stated.
Justice Lynn Stewart has been taking on the role of chief justice since Moore’s suspension.