Thursday, January 7, 2016

SPLC expands ethics complaint against Chief Justice Roy Moore

  Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore should be removed from the bench for advising state probate judges to enforce Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban, the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a new supplement filed yesterday in its ongoing ethics complaint against Moore.

  “Chief Justice Roy Moore is once again demonstrating that he is unfit to hold office,” SPLC President Richard Cohen said. “Despite the fact that Alabama probate judges are under a federal court order that bars them from discriminating against same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses, Justice Moore has irresponsibly advised them to do the opposite. You would think after being removed from the bench once before that the chief justice would know better.”

  The SPLC complaint describes how Moore’s administrative order issued yesterday violates the Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics, which instruct judges to “respect and comply with the law” and promote “public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”

  The Judicial Inquiry Commission could recommend that Moore face ethics charges in the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. That court removed Moore from the office of chief justice 13 years ago after he refused to comply with a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building.

  The opinion removing Moore from the bench states that the oath of chief justice commands Moore “to support both the United States and Alabama Constitutions.” It also notes that if there is a conflict between the documents, “the Constitution of the United States must prevail.” The 2003 opinion followed a successful SPLC lawsuit to remove the judge’s Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building and a complaint that the SPLC filed with the Judicial Inquiry Commission.

  “Just as Chief Justice Moore’s previous refusal to comply with a federal court order disqualified him for judicial office and necessitated his removal from the bench, his advising other judges to violate a federal court order also requires his removal as Chief Justice of this state’s highest court,” the supplement states.

  Read the full supplement.

  This article was published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

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