The case could create precedent for liberal lawyers to crush any and all legal opposition to the Left’s agenda.
Alabama’s Chief Justice was suspended from the bench for upholding state law in the face of the Supreme Court’s 2015, 5-4 decision about same sex marriage. Now, thanks to the actions of an unelected commission, he’s stuck in limbo with no source of income, but it doesn’t stop there.
The most troubling part of all this, says his lawyer, are what it could mean for judge in America who issues a legal opinion that deviates from the Supreme Court’s line.
The case of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, and his suspension over a gay marriage order, has “startling implications” for judges around the country, his attorney states.
“The implications of a judicial inquiry commission targeting a judge for a legal opinion is quite startling,” says Liberty Council founder and chairman Mat Staver.
“That means that every dissenting, majority, or concurring opinion is fertile ground for a judicial inquiry body to go after. And if they don’t agree with the legal body or the legal conclusions or the legal reasoning, the judge who wrote it could be disciplined or removed from the bench.”
Stemming from complaints by the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center, Moore was suspended on Sept. 30 for the remainder of his term on the Alabama Supreme Court after a state judicial body found him guilty of six charges of violation of the canons of judicial ethics.
“This decision clearly reflects the corrupt nature of our political and legal system at the highest level,” read a statement by Moore, who is currently appealing the verdict.
While the case against the suspended chief justice portrayed him acting in defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court, the contention is primarily over his administrative order to the state’s 68 probate judges in January regarding same-sex marriage licenses. Moore told the judges that a previous order from March 2015 — preceding the Obergefell v. Hodges decision — was still in place and, as such, prevented the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses.
“After the Attorney General of Alabama declined to prosecute this case, the JIC [Judicial Inquiry Committee] employed the former legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) which filed the charges against me, at a cost of up to $75,000.00 to the taxpayers of Alabama,” Moore’s statement continued.
“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.”
While the JIC found Moore guilty of ethics charges for defying federal court orders, he and his lawyer contend that he was simply following the judicial canons, which state that administrative orders like the one under contention from 2015 are under the sole authority of the Alabama Supreme Court.
“Administrative orders are under the authority of the Alabama Supreme Court,” Staver explained to Conservative Review in a phone interview Tuesday. “So if a Chief Justice ever issues an administrative order that is not in compliance with the law, or that the other justices disagree with, the body of authority over it is not the JIC, it’s the Alabama Supreme Court. They can convene and overrule it.”
“That’s how it’s supposed to work,” he said. “It’s unprecedented that the JIC got into the meaning of this administrative order, because it’s a legal matter … There’s no factual dispute here. There’s no act that [Moore] did. It’s just a four-page administrative order.”
“Whenever a charge is issued by the JIC in Alabama, the judge is automatically removed, pending the entire process before you ever get a chance to defend yourself,” Staver explained. “You’re fighting to get back,” as opposed most states require proof of guilt for anything less than a felony indictment to remove, suspend, or reprimand a judge.
“The process is the punishment,” Staver concluded. “A bad charge can automatically remove somebody. And even if the charge is proven to be erroneous, you’re months removed from the bench and the damage is done.”
And Roy Moore is feeling the squeeze right now. Moore’s suspension was even worse than removal in many ways, according to Staver, who says that his client now can’t even practice privately, retire, or draw his retirement benefits, as the suspension is for the remainder of his term, ending in 2019. As of right now, Staver told Conservative Review, the 69-year-old Moore has even been cut off from his previous health plan as a result of the suspension.
“For the next two-and-a-half years, he has no income, no insurance benefits, no approval of retirement … cannot work. So he’s in a horrible situation,” he said. “It’s a horrible situation.”