Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore will be suspended from the bench without pay for the rest of the term for failing to comply with a law that legally validated same-sex marriage, the Alabama’s Court of the Judiciary ruled Friday.
Moore went to court Wednesday morning in Montgomery. This time, however, he was a defendant charged with possible ethical violations for defying higher-court rulings with his anti-gay-marriage stance.
Moore was also found guilty of failing to uphold the integrity of the court and “perform the duties of his office impartially.”
According to court records, in January 2015, after a district court judge ruled that same-sex marriage was legal in Alabama, Moore sent a letter to Gov. Robert Bentley adamantly expressing his belief that the ruling was destructive, and urging the governor to defy the district court ruling and support judges who did not wish to comply.
Moore went further and used his position as chief justice to instruct Alabama probate judges to refuse to issue licenses to same-sex couples via email. “No probate judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent with Article 1, Section 36.03, of the Alabama Constitution or…30-1-19, Ala. Code 1975,” he wrote.
“The Supreme Court of Alabama has likewise described marriage as ‘a divine institution,’ imposing upon parties ‘higher moral and religious obligations than those imposed by any mere human institution or government,'” he wrote. “The laws of this state have always recognized the Biblical admonition stated by our Lord.”
Moore’s actions led the state-run Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission to launch an investigation. The commission suspended Moore in May. He is now facing six counts of judicial ethics violations. A decision in the trial is expected within 10 days.
“When his term expires, he will be ineligible to run for election as judge again because of his age,” said Mat Staver, Moore’s attorney, in a statement. “So the suspension until the end of his term is a de facto removal from the bench.”