By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Monday, June 27, the Court of the Judiciary filed papers stating that members of the court have received an increasing amount of phone calls and emails from members of the public about the case against Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore (R).
“These points of contact have come primarily from individuals expressing support for Chief Justice Moore.” The Court says that they do not believe that the Chief Justice is encouraging his supporters to contact the members of the courts; but is asking that the parties in the case discourage such contact.
The Court of the Judiciary has set a hearing for August 8 to consider Moore’s defense team’s motion that the charges brought against the Chief Justice by the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) be dismissed. Moore is being 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.”
Liberty Counsel Chairman Matt 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 Chief Justice is presently suspended with pay.
The charges are based on a complaint against the Chief Justice by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
If the Court of the Judiciary does not dismiss the charges and eventually finds the popularly elected Chief Justice 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.
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.”
Some political insiders suggest that all of the publicity from the case may actually help the Chief Justice if he should decide to run for Governor in 2018. Legislation that would have lifted Alabama’s mandatory retirement age for judges and permitted judges to stay on past age 70 stalled in the legislature this past session. If the mandatory retirement age is not raised, Moore will not be able to run for another term as Chief Justice. While state law does not allow senior citizens to be judges, they can run for Governor or Lieutenant Governor.