By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Friday, September 30, 2016, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was suspended for the rest of his term, by the (unelected) Court of the Judiciary.
Chief Justice Moore said in a statement, “This decision clearly reflects the corrupt nature of our political and legal system at the highest level.”
Justice Moore said, “After the Attorney General of Alabama had declined to prosecute this case, the JIC employed the former legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) who filed the charges against me, at the cost of up to $75,000.00 to the taxpayers of Alabama. During the trial which lasted approximately four hours, the JIC produced no witnesses, no affidavits, and no evidence to meet their burden of proving by ‘clear and convincing’ evidence that the Administrative order of January 6, 2016, violated the Canons of Judicial Ethics.”
The Chief Justice concluded, “This was a politically motivated effort by radical homosexual and transgender groups to remove me as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court because of outspoken opposition to their immoral agenda. This opinion violates not only the legal standards of evidence but also the rule of law which states that no judge can be removed from office except by unanimous vote.”
Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan reacted to the news in a statement: “The Alabama Republican Party is highly disappointed in the Alabama Court of Judiciary’s decision to suspend Judge Roy Moore from office. This group of individuals is not accountable to the voters of Alabama. Their charge as a body is to address and make decisions on corruption cases involving judges in Alabama. At no time has this case been about corruption.”
Lathan continued, ‘Judge Moore was elected, twice, by the citizens of our state. In light of this, two groups who are unaccountable to the voters have overstepped boundaries in suspending a statewide elected judge. On May 21, 2016, the Alabama Republican Party passed a resolution strongly opposing the removal of Chief Justice Moore.”
The ALGOP Chairman said, “On August 27, 2016, the Alabama Republican Party passed a resolution calling for the Alabama executive, legislative and judicial branches of government to enact and implement a law for the election of all members of the Judicial Inquiry Commission by a vote of the people of Alabama. We stand by our resolution of support for Judge Moore and our resolution to call for a vote of the people regarding the election of all members to the Judicial Inquiry Commission.”
Moore was not removed from office by the Court of the Judiciary but instead was suspended through 2016. As Moore was not removed by the Court, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley will not get to appoint a replacement. Instead, Associate Justice Lyn Steward (R) will presumably continue as the acting Chief Justice until a new Chief Justice is elected by the people in the 2018 election.
Moore is suspended without pay. The Court of the Judiciary has ordered for Moore to pay the court costs, presumably including the $75,000 that the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) paid John Carroll to prosecute Moore for charges related to his defense of traditional marriage.
The pro-Moore group, Sanctity of Marriage wrote, “Chief Justice Moore has been a cost to taxpayers and must pay for the legal fees and the trial? Umm, that would be the SPLC and the Judicial Inquiry Commission. Since when have they represented voters and taxpayers?”
Most political observers think that Moore will likely run for the Republican nomination for Governor in 2018. Term limits prevent Alabama Gov. Bentley from seeking a third consecutive term. Moore has run for Governor twice unsuccessfully.