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Moore’s Defense Asks Court to Dismiss Charges

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Tuesday, June 21, 2016, defense attorneys for Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) filed a motion asking the Court of the Judiciary (COJ) to dismiss the charges against the Chief Justice.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman, Matt Staver said in a statement, “The Administrative Order of Chief Justice Moore expressly said he could not provide guidance to the probate judges because the matter was pending before the Alabama Supreme Court. The JIC apparently wanted the Chief Justice to openly disobey the Alabama Supreme Court and to take matters into his own hands. The JIC’s position is astounding and clearly wrong. It is no wonder why the JIC has no jurisdiction to render legal decisions. When it veers into this forbidden realm, it makes no sense.”

Tuesday was the deadline of the 14-day extension granted by the COJ for filing a response to the charges brought by the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC). The popularly elected Chief Justice is represented by Liberty Counsel and the Judicial Action Group.

According to the filing by Liberty Counsel, “On June 29, 2015, three days after the US Supreme Court Obergefell opinion, the Alabama Supreme Court “invited the parties in the Alabama Policy Institute to address the effect of the Supreme Court’s decision on this Court’s existing orders in this case.” When six months passed with no ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court and when the probate judges were conflicted between that ruling and the 2015 orders from the Alabama Supreme Court, Chief Justice Moore issued the January 2016 Administrative Order, in which he stated: “I am not at liberty to provide any guidance to Alabama probate judges on the effect of Obergefell on the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court. That issue remains before the entire Court which continues to deliberate on the matter.” In March, the Alabama Supreme Court issued the certificate of judgment regarding its 2015 orders.”

Chairman Staver said, “The Judicial Inquiry Commission lacked jurisdiction to issue the charges because they all deal with a legal interpretation that is beyond its authority. We have asked that these baseless charges be dismissed.”

The pro-Roy Moore Sanctity of Marriage Alabama wrote on social media: “Great! Chief Justice Roy Moore has filed a motion to this appointed Court of the Judiciary reviewing the charges against him. Now, the Court of the Judiciary can dismiss the charges as the Judicial Inquiry Commission should have done months ago. Let’s hope and pray the COJ doesn’t make the same mistake the Commission did.”

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When the JIC first announced their charges, a defiant Chief Justice Roy Moore said in response, “The Judicial Inquiry Commission has no authority over the Administrative Orders of the Chief Justice of Alabama or the legal injunction of the Alabama Supreme Court prohibiting probate judges from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. The JIC has chosen to listen to people like Ambrosia Starling, a professed transvestite, and other gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals, as well as organizations which support their agenda. We intend to fight this agenda vigorously and expect to prevail.”

Chief Justice Moore said then, “We intend to fight this agenda vigorously and expect to prevail.”

The Chief Justice is presently suspended with pay.

The charges are based on a complaint by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). SPLC President Richard Cohen said in a statement, “Moore has disgraced his office for far too long. He’s such a religious zealot, such an egomaniac that he thinks he doesn’t have to follow federal court rulings he disagrees with. For the good of the state, he should be kicked out of office.”

Moore may be suspended pending the ruling by the Court of the Judiciary. If the court finds him guilty, he could be permanently removed from office, though the court could levy lesser sanctions.

The Court of the Judiciary removed Moore in 2003 after he refused to remove a Ten Commandments monument even after a federal judge ordered him to do so. His removal in 2003 was also in response to a SPLC ethics complaint.

The SPLC complaint alleges that Moore ordered state probate judges to violate a binding federal court order; that he has repeatedly commented on pending cases; has undermined the public’s confidence in the integrity of the judiciary by denigrating the federal courts and threatening to defy them; and has improperly lent the prestige of his office to the Foundation for Moral Law, a private organization that his wife runs and that he founded.

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The President of the Foundation for Moral Law, Mrs. Kayla Moore wrote, “Those spearheading the removal of the Chief Justice hate God, marriage, and the rule of law (bedrocks of our country) and intend to stamp out anyone who stands for all three. Sadly, their goal is being accomplished by the weakness of those who claim virtue.”

In 2003, Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor personally represented the state in the hearing. JIC rules have changed so that the JIC appoints its own special prosecutor, former Cumberland Law School Dean John Carroll.

Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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