By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, September 28, 2016, the case of the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) versus Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was the most hyped-up, legal proceeding in State politics this year, outside of the Mike Hubbard trial, and it lasted just a few hours. There will be no verdict for ten days, but Moore’s defense team expressed confidence in their case, calling the charges by the JIC “baseless.”
Chief Justice Moore’s defense team included Liberty Counsel founder, Mat Staver, Horatio Mihet and the Judicial Action Group’s, Phillip Jauregui.
The Chief Justice testified in his own defense. Staver said in a statement, “We felt our evidence was legally and factually unassailable and clearly showed that the JIC’s charges are baseless. The Chief Justice did an excellent job of testifying in the very court where he should be presiding,”
The Southern Poverty Law Center brought the charges against Moore, with whom they have feuded for decades. According to Liberty Counsel, all of the charges focused on Moore’s January 2016 Administrative Order in which the defense claims he merely advised the probate judges that the case involving them was still pending before the Alabama Supreme Court.
Liberty Counsel argued that “The Chief Justice’s testimony was uncontroverted and very clear. The JIC had a short, and frankly weak, cross-examination. The JIC offered no live testimony. Their closing arguments lasted about 45 minutes. Mat Staver’s closing on behalf of Chief Justice Moore went on for about an hour and ten minutes, after which the JIC presented a short rebuttal argument.”
The JIC charged that the four-page order directed the probate judges to violate federal court rulings, but the Moore Defense claims the Administrative Order did no such thing. Paragraph 10 stated: “I am not at liberty to provide any guidance to the 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.”
Staver said, “The JIC apparently wanted Chief Justice Moore to usurp the authority of the Alabama Supreme Court and order all probate judges to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He merely gave a status report on the pending case, and the JIC overstepped its authority to bring these politically-motivated charges.”
The JIC hired John Carroll to prosecute Moore.
On Thursday, September 29, Franklin Graham expressed his support for Chief Justice Moore. Graham said, “I have met Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, and I appreciate that he is a man who will stand up for what is right. Judge Moore was tried on Wednesday for ‘violating ethics’ when he ordered State judges not to issue same-sex marriage licenses in his State. The Judicial Commission is set to rule on Judge Moore’s case within 10 days, and if he is unanimously found liable, he could be removed from the State Supreme Court. Join me in praying for Judge Moore, and share your encouragement with him.”
The appointed Court of the Judiciary will announce the elected Chief Justice’s fate in ten days.
Some voices have called for reform in how the JIC operates. The Republican Executive Committee passed resolutions calling for reforming the JIC.