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SPLC submits new information in ongoing ethics complaint against Alabama chief justice

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore continues to “flout and violate” the state’s code of judicial ethics.

Following a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that legalized same-sex marriage across the country the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a new supplement today in the ongoing ethics complaint against Moore.

“Justice Moore has been removed from office for unethical actions once before, but it’s clear that he hasn’t learned his lesson,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. “It’s obviously unethical for him to urge defiance of a United States Supreme Court ruling. He needs to understand that he is a judge, not a preacher.”

The filing to the Judicial Inquiry Commission of Alabama alleges that Moore has committed new ethics violations by improperly commenting on pending or impending cases in numerous speeches and interviews; by suggesting that Supreme Court precedent need not be followed; and by announcing that he would recuse himself from cases rather than apply precedents with which he disagreed.

Read the SPLC filing >>> 

His continued association with and promotion of the Foundation for Moral Law also violates the Alabama Canon of Judicial Ethics. He is listed as president emeritus of the legal services organization, and his wife, Kayla Moore, serves as president. The organization is involved in litigation involving same-sex marriage.

The SPLC complaint describes instances in which Moore’s statements and activities overlap with and promote the work of the Foundation for Moral Law. For example, in a July 7 interview with political activist Randall Terry, Moore indicated that he was in “active” conflict with the federal judiciary over its “horrendous opinion” in the same-sex marriage case and was fighting the same-sex ruling with briefs and speeches.

“If Chief Justice Moore wants to make political speeches or be an activist in opposition to same-sex marriage, he is free to do so, but he cannot simultaneously hold his current position on the Alabama Supreme Court,” Cohen said. “His blatant disregard for judicial ethics demonstrates once again that he is unfit for office.”

The SPLC first lodged its complaint against Moore on Jan. 28 and filed a supplement on Feb. 3. The initial complaint noted that Moore was encouraging lawlessness by attempting to assemble state officials and judges to oppose the federal court system.

The Judicial Inquiry Commission of Alabama could recommend that Moore face ethics charges in the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. That court removed Moore from the office of chief justice 12 years ago after he refused to comply with a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building.

The opinion removing Moore from the bench states that the oath of chief justice commands Moore “to support both the United States and Alabama Constitutions.” It also notes that if there is a conflict between the documents, “the Constitution of the United States must prevail.” The 2003 opinion followed a successful SPLC lawsuit to remove the judge’s Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building.