By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Friday, May 27 the Liberty Counsel filed a federal lawsuit against the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) charging that there are constitutional challenges to the charges against Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) and the automatic removal provision of the Alabama Constitution.
The Liberty Counsel is also asking the court to immediately reinstate Chief Justice Moore.
The Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, Matt Staver, said in a statement, “The charges against Chief Justice Roy Moore must be dismissed. The JIC has no jurisdiction over an Administrative Order of the Chief Justice. Only the Alabama Supreme Court has jurisdiction, and that Court agreed with the Order. We are asking the federal court to strike down the automatic removal provision in the Alabama State Constitution and we are asking that Chief Justice Moore be immediately reinstated.”
The JIC has charged the Chief Justice with breaches in the judicial code of conduct. Moore has been suspended with pay pending trial.
The charges focus solely on his Administrative Order issued in January 2016, in which he wrote that the 2015 orders of the Alabama Supreme Court regarding same-sex “marriage” remained in effect until the Court held otherwise.
His defense argues that Chief Justice Moore did not participate in the 2015 orders, which ruled that the state’s Probate Judges must uphold the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Act. They also claim that the automatic removal provision places far too much power in the JIC, which can just file charges and have a judge removed.
Liberty Counsel is also asking the JIC to dismiss the charges because they claim that the JIC lacks authority to render legal opinions when it disagrees with a judge’s interpretation of the law. Liberty Counsel will also raise the JIC’s violation of the Confidentiality Rule that requires confidentiality of an investigation until a charge is made. In this case, the JIC intentionally leaked the pending charges to the media, which is a serious violation of the JIC rules.
On Thursday, May 26 Liberty Counsel objected to the JIC’s choice of prosecutor. The Judicial Inquiry Commission hired John Carroll, a former Legal Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), to prosecute Chief Justice Moore.
Staver said, “I have almost no words for this corrupt and unjust system. We have said that the charges are politically motivated and that the JIC violated its own rules of confidentiality. You would think that the JIC would be astute enough to at least avoid an appearance of bias, but obvious the JIC does not care. This is a brazen act that calls into question the entire JIC process.”
Carroll teaches at the Cumberland School of Law.
Staver said, “e travesty of the politically motivated charges by the JIC against Chief Justice Roy Moore have become even clearer with the appointment by the JIC of a former Legal Director of the same organization that filed the charges. This is a miscarriage of justice of the highest sort.”
Liberty Counsel describes itself as an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.
Moore was previously removed from his elected position of chief justice in 2003 after the SPLC argued that having a Ten Commandments monument in the Supreme Court building somehow violated their rights. When Moore refused to honor a federal judge’s order demanding that the monument be removed the JIC removed the popular Chief Justice. Back then the Alabama Attorney General, then Bill Pryor, had to prosecute Moore before the Court of the Judiciary. The rules have changed since then so that the JIC has the authority to hire it’s own prosecutor. There is no word at this time how much Carroll is going to charge the people of Alabama for his legal services in this.
The Alabama Republican Party Executive Committee has recently met and passed a resolution demanding that the charges against Chief Justice Moore be dropped.