MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The Alabama Court of the Judiciary stopped short of removing Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore from the bench for the second time but handed down a final ruling against him that effectively ends his time on the bench.
Friday, the ACJ suspended Moore for the remainder of his term, effective immediately, and without pay. He will also be taxed for the cost of the court proceedings. By the time his term is up in 2019, Moore will have aged out of any possibility to run for the position again.
Moore and his attorney slammed the unanimous decision of the ACJ for finding he violated six Canons of Judicial Ethics. The suspended justice blamed 'radical homosexual and transgender groups' for getting him suspended.
The violations Moore was found guilty of include:
- Canon 1 - He failed to uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary.
- Canon 2 - He failed to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all his activities.
- Canon 2A - He failed to respect and comply with the law and failed to conduct himself at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.
- Canon 2B - He failed to avoid conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice that brings the judicial office into disrepute.
- Canon 3 - He failed to perform the duties of his office impartially.
- Canon 3A(6) - He failed to abstain from public comment about a pending proceeding in his own court.
The ACJ would have needed all nine justices to vote for removal to force Moore to vacate his seat. Moore's attorney, Mat Staver, concluded the court didn't follow its own rules and promised he would appeal the decision.
The Southern Poverty Law Center saw the outcome differently, with President Richard Cohen saying the Court "has done the citizens of Alabama a great service..."
The ACJ ruled Friday after hearing testimony earlier in the week in the case surrounding allegations that Moore misused his office by trying to block gay couples from marrying in the state, in conflict with federal court orders.
Moore was the only witness in his trial. He denied the charges. He said he never told probate judges what to do or to violate federal law, he just told them the Alabama law prohibiting same-sex marriages was still in effect.
Moore said the issue was that there were conflicting state and federal orders and argued that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling didn't overrule Alabama law, and marriage is a state issue.
However, the Judicial Inquiry Commission maintained that's not the case because of the Supremacy Clause in the U.S Constitution and because all states are bound by SCOTUS rulings whether or not they are parties in the case.
Moore was previously removed from the bench in 2003 after violating a court order to remove a stone monument of the 10 Commandments from the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery.
Following that removal from office, Moore launched two unsuccessful bids for governor and considered a bid for president of the United States before recapturing his old seat on the state's highest court with more than 51 percent of the statewide votes.
Following the suspension, Gov. Robert Bentley's office confirmed he will not make an appointment to replace Moore. Instead, Lyn Stuart will continue in the role of Acting Chief Justice and the court will continue with eight justices instead of nine. Attorney General Luther Strange is reviewing the order and his office said he had no comment.
BACKGROUND ON MOORE CASE
In January, Moore sent an order to probate judges saying that an Alabama court order to refuse same-sex marriage licenses remained in effect, despite the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.
The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission said Moore was urging defiance of federal courts on gay marriage.
Moore was suspended in May and then sued the Commission, saying it violated his rights by suspending him. That suit was later dismissed by U.S. District Judge Harold Albritton.
In November 2003, the Court of Judiciary removed Moore from office for defying a federal judge's order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state Supreme Court building.
A summary timetable of events leading up to Wednesday's decision:
November 2003 Roy Moore removed from the high court by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary
June 2006 loses bid for Republican nomination for Alabama Governor
June 2010 loses bid for Republican nomination for Alabama Governor
January 2013 sworn in for second time as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court
January 2015: Federal judge in Mobile rules Alabama's marriage laws banning same sex marriage unconstitutional
January 2015: SPLC files complaint (first of four) to the Judicial Inquiry Commission
February 2015: Moore advises Alabama probate judges against issues marriage licenses, SPLC files second complaint
February 2015: Some Alabama probate judges begin issues marriage licenses to same sex couples
March 2015: Alabama Supreme Court orders state probate judges not to issue same sex marriage licenses
June 2015: US Supreme Court legalizes same sex marriage nationwide
July 2015: SPLC files another complaint against Moore to the Judicial Inquiry Commission
January 2016: Moore issues administrative order to probate judges saying Alabama Supreme Court order from March 2015 still in place
April 2016: Moore holds press conference defending himself against the SPLC complaints to the Judicial Inquiry Commission
May 2016: Moore is suspended from the bench after Judicial Inquiry Commission files ethics charges
August 2016: Court of the Judiciary denies Moore's request to dismiss charges, set trial
September 28th - Trial