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Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore Faces Possible Removal from Bench

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore could once again be removed from the bench as the result of judicial ethics complaints filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) after he instructed state court judges to defy a federal court order and enforce the state’s unconstitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Ruling on the SPLC complaints, the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) announced today that it has filed ethics charges against Moore, setting up a trial in the Alabama Court of the Judiciary.

“Moore has disgraced his office for far too long,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. “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.”

Read Richard Cohen’s full statement.

Moore will 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 removed Moore from the bench once before, in 2003, in response to an SPLC ethics complaint after he refused to comply with a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument that he installed in the state judicial building. He was re-elected to the post in 2012.

The SPLC complaints state that Moore:

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

“Moore swore to uphold the United States Constitution,” Cohen said. “But he has demonstrated in the past, and now once again, that he is willing to put aside the law when it conflicts with his personal religious beliefs. He cannot be trusted to be an impartial arbiter of the law.”