Roy Moore, Alabama Chief Justice, Suspended Over Gay Marriage Order
by Campbell Robertson of The New York Times
SEPT. 30, 2016
The chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy S. Moore, was suspended on Friday for the remainder of his term in office for ordering the stateâ€™s probate judges to defy federal court orders on same-sex marriage.
The suspension was imposed by the stateâ€™s Court of the Judiciary, a nine-member body made up of selected judges, lawyers and others. While the court did not remove Chief Justice Moore from the bench entirely, as it did in 2003 after he defied orders to remove a giant monument of the Ten Commandments from the state judicial building, it effectively ended his career as a Supreme Court justice. His term ends in 2019, and Chief Justice Moore, 69, will be barred by law from running again at that time because of his age.
The court was unanimous in its judgment, the decision said, because of both â€śhis disregard for binding federal law,â€ť exhibited in a January order to the stateâ€™s 68 probate judges to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and â€śhis history with this court.â€ť
He is most known for his unyielding social conservatism and his insistence that the law reflect his theology. The federal court decisions on same-sex marriage, including the ruling in June 2015 by the United States Supreme Court that it was a constitutional right, outraged him; in a 93-page concurrence to an Alabama Supreme Court decision on the matter earlier this year, he condemned the gay rights movement as leading to a â€śwasteland of sexual anarchyâ€ť and wrote, in the context of the federal Supreme Court decision, of the â€śduty to disregard illegal orders.â€ť
In his view, the federal Supreme Courtâ€™s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, guaranteeing same-sex couples the right to marry, was not binding on Alabama directly. Without a final ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court, he insisted, the question was still open, and in January he issued an order to the stateâ€™s 68 probate judges, informing them that they had a â€śministerial dutyâ€ť to refuse licenses to same-sex couples until a state-level decision was handed down.
It was this action that brought charges from the Judicial Inquiry Commission, a state oversight body, that he was violating Alabamaâ€™s canon of judicial ethics. â€śHe was instructing state officers to disregard a binding injunction that was consistent with controlling Supreme Court precedent,â€ť said Ronald J. Krotoszynski Jr., a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law. â€śIt was a remarkable thing for him to do.â€ť