Legal Ethics

Alabama chief justice is blocked from office for a second time

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Roy Moore

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has once again been blocked from his post for ethics violations stemming from his refusal to comply with court rulings on social issues.

In a judgment (PDF) on Friday, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended Moore without pay for the rest of his term for telling probate judges to enforce the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. His advice to the judges was delivered after the U.S. Supreme Court had found a constitutional right to gay marriage., the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Associated Press covered the decision.

The suspension “effectively ended his career as a Supreme Court justice,” the Times says. Moore’s term ends in 2019, and he won’t be able to run again because of his age.

Moore was removed from office in 2003 for refusing to obey a federal judge’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the judicial building which houses the state supreme court.

In the judgment on Friday, the Court of the Judiciary said Moore “failed to respect and comply with the law” and failed to perform the duties of his office impartially.

Moore was represented by Liberty Counsel, which says in an online statement that the order will be appealed to the Alabama Supreme Court. The group says the suspension is the same as removal from office, which requires unanimous agreement of the Court of the Judiciary.

The opinion states that the court was unanimous in agreement on the suspension, though a majority would have gone further and removed Moore from office. The Liberty Counsel statement called the suspension “an unbelievable violation of the law.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center had filed the ethics complaint against Moore. SPLC President Richard Cohen said in a press release that the decision had “done the citizens of Alabama a great service.”

“Moore was elected to be a judge, not a preacher. It’s something that he never seemed to understand. The people of Alabama who cherish the rule of law are not going to miss the Ayatollah of Alabama,” Cohen said.

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