Tag Archives: Roy Moore

Anti-gay Justice Roy Moore suspended for remainder of term in Alabama

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended anti-LGBT Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore for the remainder of his term due to his unethical actions against marriage equality.

The nine-member Court of the Judiciary found Moore unanimously guilty of all six charges brought against him.

Moore will remain on the bench, but will not receive a salary and he will be unable to make any legal decisions.

His term is up in 2018. At that point, he will not be able to run for the justice again in Alabama because he will be past the office’s age restriction.

“Roy Moore has flagrantly and willfully attempted to block marriage equality at every turn in Alabama, using his position of power to push a personal, radically anti-LGBTQ agenda,” said Eva Kendrick, state manager for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group. “We are thrilled that justice has been done today and he will no longer be able to use the bench to discriminate against people he had taken an oath to protect.

Kendrick continued, “Roy Moore’s bigoted rhetoric and unethical actions harmed LGBTQ Alabamians and emboldened those who would seek to hurt us further. We hope this is a turning point for our state. We must focus on electing politicians and judges who will move us forward, not backward.”

HRC Alabama initiated the #NoMoore campaign to remove Moore from the Alabama Supreme Court for “his blatant legal and ethical failings.”

HRC Alabama also called out Moore’s discriminatory behavior with a billboard in downtown Montgomery, and held rallies and press conferences outside each of Moore’s ethics hearings — including the final hearing on Sept. 28.

Last year, HRC and other civil rights organizations joined the Southern Poverty Law Center’s ethics complaint filed with the Judicial Inquiry Commission of Alabama and seeking Moore’s removal for violating the obligations of his office.

The complaint described how Moore urged Gov. Robert Bentley and members of the Alabama  Probate Judges Association to ignore federal court rulings striking down the state’s ban on marriage equality.

The court has now ruled that Moore violated the canons of judicial ethics by ordering the probate judges to defy the federal court injunction requiring them to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on a non-discriminatory basis.

This is the second time in 13 years that Moore has been sanctioned as a result of ethics complaints filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

SPLC president Richard Cohen, in a news release, said, “The Court of the Judiciary has done the citizens of Alabama a great service by suspending Roy Moore from the bench.  He disgraced his office and undermined the integrity of the judiciary by putting his personal religious beliefs above his sworn duty to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

“Moore was elected to be a judge, not a preacher. It’s something that he never seemed to understand. The people of Alabama who cherish the rule of law are not going to miss the Ayatollah of Alabama.”

Alabama chief justice refuses to withdraw state’s same-sex marriage ban

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore yesterday said state probate judges remain under a court order to refuse marriage licenses to gay couples even though a US. Supreme Court decision effectively legalized same-sex marriage more than six months ago.

The outspoken chief justice has said that biblical law trumps constitutional law. He previously tried to block gay marriage from coming to the Deep South state, issued an administrative order saying the Alabama Supreme Court never lifted a March directive to probate judges to refuse licenses to gay couples.

“Until further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court, the existing orders … that Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act remain in full force and effect,” Moore wrote.

But the chief justice stopped short of directly ordering judges to refuse the licenses. He wrote in his order that he was not “at liberty to provide any guidance to Alabama probate judges on the effect of (the Supreme Court ruling) on the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court.”

Nonetheless, at least three Alabama counties suspended all marriage license operations — not issuing licenses to anyone— as a result of his order.

The Alabama Supreme Court issued its directive to refuse licenses to gay couples at the request of a conservative group after a federal judge ruled in January 2015 that the state’s gay-marriage ban was illegal. Months later, in June, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide.

“Yet again, Chief Justice Roy Moore is flagrantly defying the rule of law, and empowering those who wish to stand between same-sex couples and their constitutional right to marry the person they love,” said Human Rights Campaign legal director Sarah Warbelow in a statement to the press. “Regardless of what Roy Moore says, marriage equality is the law of the land. … We urge all of the state’s probate judges to issue licenses to same-sex couples, as is their duty under the law. Moore’s personal opinions are not at issue here. As a judge, he has an obligation to follow the law. If he refuses to do so, he should be removed from office.”

Claiming the Supreme Court did not specifically address Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage in the historic Obergefell v. Hodges case, Moore justified his position by quoting a state law that says he can “take affirmative and appropriate action to correct or alleviate any condition or situation adversely affecting the administration of justice within the state,” according to HRC, the nation’s largest and most influential lobbying group for LGBT equality.

The Alabama court had asked for briefs on how to proceed after the U.S. high court ruling, but never issued any follow-up orders. Moore said he was issuing his latest administrative order because there was “confusion” among probate judges on how to proceed. Moore told the Montgomery Advertiser that he didn’t mean to defy the U.S. Supreme Court as he sought to clarify conflicting orders.

Susan Watson, director of the ACLU of Alabama, said it was Moore who was creating confusion, but she also predicted that his order would have little effect. Watson noted that the same federal judge who initially overturned Alabama’s gay marriage ban also issued an injunction prohibiting probate judges from enforcing the ban.

Most judges in Alabama’s 67 counties are issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, although at least three Alabama counties suspended all marriage license operations yesterday in response to Moore’s order. That is in addition to the judges in nine counties who had already shut down their operations following the U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Alabama Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, the only openly gay member of the Alabama Legislature, said it is time for Moore to stop fighting the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court.

“He’ll be challenged and he’ll lose and he’ll cost the state a lot of money in the process,” Todd said.

University of Alabama School of Law Professor Ronald Krotoszynski agreed.

He said that although it is technically true the state Supreme Court never withdrew its March injunction, “the U.S. Supreme Court plainly overruled it and federal courts would rule against judges who refuse licenses.”

“In light of this reality, ordering the state’s probate judges to refuse to issue marriage licenses to all couples who seek them constitutes an exercise in futility,” Krotoszynski said. “At best, it sows chaos and confusion; at worst, it forces couples to bring federal court litigation in order to exercise a clearly established federal constitutional right.”

Moore has become one of the state’s most outspoken opponents of gay marriage, and he has won praise from some right-wing religious groups for his position.

Washington County Probate Judge Nick Williams said the order has no impact on his county since he stopped issuing marriage certificates altogether in June, but he praised Moore.

“I respect our chief justice greatly,” Williams said. “I think he’s a man of honor and I respect everything he does.”

Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed, one of the first probate judges to issue same-sex marriage licenses in the state, tweeted this statement:

“Judge Moore’s latest charade is just sad & pathetic. My office will ignore him & this.”

Moore’s son Caleb Moore has been arrested three times on drug charges, leading LGBT rights advocates to charge the judge with hypocrisy and failing to minister to his own son while trying to foist his religious views on the public. In 2012, Caleb Moore worked part-time for the anti-gay Foundation For Moral Law, which was founded by his father and is currently headed by his mother Kayla Moore.

Prior to his same-sex marriage opposition, Moore was best known for being removed from office in 2003 after refusing to move a 5,300-pound Ten Commandments monument from the state Supreme Court building. But the Bible Belt state re-elected him to the position in 2012.

The Ten Commandments does not address same-sex marriage.

Duck Dynasty patriarch gives Roy Moore thumbs-up

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has a famous ally in his fight against same-sex marriages becoming accepted law.

Phil Robertson, patriarch of cable television’s “Duck Dynasty” series, said the chief justice is “spot on” in his opposition to a federal court ruling striking down Alabama’s constitutional amendment that limits marriage to heterosexual couples.

“Roy, if you hear this, do not back up because you are right on this one,” Robertson said during an appearance at Frazer United Methodist Church in Montgomery.

The Montgomery Advertiser reported Robertson’s remarks.

Moore disputes that the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause grants marriage rights to same-sex couples, as U.S. District Court Judge Callie “Ginny” Granade ruled as she struck down Alabama’s marriage amendment.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to settle the question later this year.

Until then, Moore argues that Granade’s ruling does not bind state courts. Moore cites the legal theory that only the U.S. Supreme Court and the Alabama Supreme Court can definitively settle the constitutionality of an Alabama law.

Robertson has previously condemned same-sex marriage and homosexual activity, along with adultery and sex outside marriage. Robertson describes all those actions as sins that violate God’s law.

“All of our rights do come from God,” he said at Frazer. “They’re inalienable, meaning you can’t move them or transfer them.”

Robertson has also garnered national headlines for remarking that he knew many black Southerners who were happy under Jim Crow laws and for opining that the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases can be attributed to “hippies and beatniks.”

The A&E network briefly suspended the elder Robertson from “Duck Dynasty” amid controversy over some of his statements.

Robertson visited Montgomery with his son Alan, a minister, after having received a freedom-of-speech award at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, an event that several Republican presidential hopefuls also attended.

“It’s kind of ironic that these days, if you exercise your freedom of speech, someone considers it worthy of a reward,” he said at Frazer.

His son, Alan, remains a steadfast supporter of his father.

“You realize that when you say things and you say them strongly that you’re going to bring a reaction and, obviously, some people are not going to like that, but here’s the difference: what we’re speaking is biblical truth and that’s never going to change,” Alan Robertson said. “Since that doesn’t change, we don’t change as messengers of that.”

The Robertson came to Frazer for a fundraiser benefiting Compassion21, an organization that provides mentoring and educational opportunities in urban Montgomery communities. 

Alabama marriage equality battle echoes epic fights

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s office overlooks Montgomery’s Dexter Avenue, a history-soaked thoroughfare topped by the Alabama Capitol, where Jefferson Davis was inaugurated president of the Confederacy and where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. ended the 1965 march for voting rights.

As gay and lesbian couples left a nearby courthouse clutching marriage licenses earlier in February, Moore, an outspoken opponent of marriage equality, was fighting to stop the weddings using a states’ rights argument that conjured up those historical ghosts of slavery, the Civil War and the battle against desegregation.

There has been resistance in other states to the tide of rulings allowing same-sex couples to wed. Some Florida clerks’ offices scrapped all marriage ceremonies rather than perform same-sex unions. In North Carolina and Georgia, legislation is being developed to let employees, based on religious beliefs, opt out of issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

No state, however, has gone as far as Alabama, where the 68-year-old Moore instructed the state’s probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

Moore, who in 2000 gained notoriety for his refusal to follow an order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the courthouse, told Fox News Sunday that legalizing marriage for gays alters God’s “organic law.”

The justice objected to a Jan. 23 ruling by U.S. District Judge Callie Granade that Alabama’s gay marriage ban violates the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection and due process. After the Supreme Court on Feb. 9 refused to stay the decision, Alabama became the 37th state — plus the District of Columbia — where gays and lesbians can legally wed.

But same-sex couples, as of press time, still could not obtain marriage licenses in every county in Alabama. At least 19 probate judges, under Moore’s direction, refused to issue licenses to lesbians and gays.

Moore, who is head of the Alabama court system, threw that system into disarray when he urged the probate judges in a letter to stand against “judicial tyranny.” He claimed Granade had no authority to “redefine marriage” for the Southern state.

Moore said probate judges were not defendants in the case, so they were not subject to Granade’s order.

“She has no control over the state of Alabama to force all probate judges to do anything,” Moore said. “This is a case of dual sovereignty of federal and state authorities. The U.S. Supreme Court is very clear in recognizing that federal courts do not bind state courts.”

Granade later issued an order in favor of same-sex couples denied licenses by probate judges.

“The law is clear — all Chief Justice Moore has done is create chaos and his order is clearly out of bounds,” said Greg Nevins of Lambda Legal, an LGBT legal defense group. “The Supreme Court has entertained the state’s request for a stay and rejected it. Same-sex couples and different-sex couples all enjoy the fundamental right to marry, and probate judges should not be interfering with that right.”

Parallels to 1960s

Moore’s actions drew inevitable parallels with former Gov. George Wallace’s 1963 “stand in the schoolhouse door” aimed at preventing federal court-mandated desegregation at the University of Alabama.

Wallace was attempting to fight integration nine years after education segregation was ruled illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The rhetoric and demagoguery of states’ rights and federal judges, you can’t help but make that comparison,” said Doug Jones, a former U.S. attorney who prosecuted two Ku Klux Klansmen who bombed Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church in 1963, killing four black girls in a crime that helped galvanize the civil rights movement.

Moore has said he believes he would not be bound to obey a wrongful ruling.

“We’ve got to understand that what a judge says is not law,” Moore told Fox News.

Many legal experts think Moore and other states’ rights advocates are on shaky ground. Ruthann Robson, a law professor at the City University of New York, said Granade’s decision should be considered the law of the state unless overruled by a higher court or contradicted by a state court.

“If what Moore says is true, then no federal court could ever hold a state law, regulation or policy unconstitutional. And the 14th Amendment, then, would be essentially meaningless,” Robson said in an email.

It’s unclear what Moore’s reaction would be if the U.S. Supreme Court determines that gay marriage bans nationwide are unconstitutional when the justices issue their ruling later this year. But Robson pointed to a 1958 decision involving a school desegregation fight in Little Rock, Arkansas, that made it clear states must adhere to the high federal court’s interpretation of the Constitution — a cornerstone of the inherent authority the U.S. government has on constitutional issues over the states.

“If parties defy a direct order, the remedy is contempt,” she said. An official found in contempt can be fined or even jailed.

Moore already faces an ethics complaint filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is based on Montgomery.

“In 2003, responsible public officials in Alabama had no choice but to remove Chief Justice Moore from office because he refused to comply with a binding federal court order,” said SPLC president Richard Cohen. “By now raising the possibility that he may not comply with a U.S. Supreme Court decision, Moore has proven that he has not learned his lesson.

“Justice Moore is intoxicated by his own sense of self-righteousness. He doesn’t seem to understand that we are a nation of laws, not of men.”

Meanwhile, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican and Southern Baptist who reads his Bible every morning in his office, appears impotent. He has said he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, but that he doesn’t want Alabama to go against history’s tide this time. So, the governor has taken no action involving the court order for marriage equality.

To do so, he said in a news statement, “would only serve to further complicate this issue.”

UPDATED: Defiance, compliance with marriage equality order in Alabama

Alabama on Feb. 9 began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Gays and lesbians can now marry in 37 states and the District of Columbia. However, gays and lesbians cannot marry in all of Alabama, because some judges are defying the federal order to issue licenses

Civil rights advocates were closely monitoring the situation in the Southern state, where Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has called on probate judges to refuse to issue licenses to same-sex couples even though the U.S. Supreme Court denied a state-sought stay in the federal case over marriage equality.

Moore gained national attention in 2003 when he refused to comply with another federal court order, one that ordered the removal of a large monument to the Ten Commandments at the state judicial building. A year before, in a custody ruling, he called homosexuality “evil.”

The first marriage license to a same-sex couple was issued by Jefferson County probate judge Alan King to two women. King said he was following the federal court order declaring the state’s bans on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group, called Moore’s attempt to interfere pathetic and said the justice should respect the rule of law.

The morning of Feb. 9, gay couples were lining up at courthouses across the state to get marriage licenses.

In some locations, news media reported that probate judges had begun issuing licenses to couples. In other locations, news media reported that probate judges were denying licenses, had not opened their windows for regular business or were accepting applications but holding them for consideration.

HRC said as many as 40 Alabama counties were refusing licenses to gay couples.

And the Alabama governor was not taking any action to abide by the federal court order.

In a statement on the state website, Gov. Robert Bentley said, “This issue has created confusion with conflicting direction for Probate Judges in Alabama. Probate Judges have a unique responsibility in our state, and I support them. I will not take any action against Probate Judges, which would only serve to further complicate this issue.We will follow the rule of law in Alabama, and allow the issue of same sex marriage to be worked out through the proper legal channels.”

“This is not exactly a ‘profiles in courage’ moment by Gov. Bentley. When Justice Roy Moore chose to ignore a federal ruling, at least he was willing to own up to it,” said HRC vice president of communications Fred Sainz. “In fact, Governor Bentley is now just as complicit in kicking up lawlessness and discrimination in his state as Moore. That’s not leadership, it’s political cowardice.”

Earlier today, the legal team responsible for the court ruling leading to marriage equality in the state filed a complaint in Mobile, Alabama, seeking to hold a probate judge in contempt for refusing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Al.com was providing live and frequent updates to the situation.

Alabama chief justice urges state to go rogue, refuse same-sex marriages

Alabama’s chief justice, who famously refused to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a state judicial building, has urged probate judges to refuse marriage licenses to gay couples even though a federal judge ruled the state’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional.

Roy Moore sent a letter to Alabama probate judges this week saying they are not bound by the ruling because they were not defendants in the lawsuit and have not been directly ordered to issue the licenses. He said the federal court did not have the authority to allow same-sex marriages.

“No federal judge, or court, should redefine marriage,” Moore said in an interview on Feb. 5.

Moore said state courts, including probate courts, have the authority to interpret the U.S. Constitution independently, just like lower federal courts do, and the U.S. Supreme Court will resolve disputes over those interpretations.

The Republican judge is no stranger to controversial remarks about homosexuality and the decisions of federal judges. Moore was removed as Alabama chief justice in 2003 after he refused to obey what he called an “unlawful” federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the state judicial building. Moore in 2002 called homosexuality “an inherent evil” in ruling against a lesbian mother in a child custody case.

Moore, who was re-elected in 2012, said he sent the letter to offer advice to probate judges because of confusion over the federal ruling. However, a legal group that has clashed with Moore in the past says he is the one trying to incite chaos. And Moore’s advice is contrary to that of the Alabama Probate Judges Association, which said last week that the decision is binding on the state’s probate judges.

U.S. District Judge Callie Granade’s order striking down the state’s ban on gay marriage will go into effect on Feb. 9 unless the U.S. Supreme Court grants Alabama’s request for a delay. Gay couples are expected to apply for marriage licenses across Alabama that day.

Granade clarified her first order, saying the judges have a constitutional duty to issue the licenses. But she stopped short of ordering them to do so.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, the group that filed the complaint that led to Moore’s ouster in 2003, filed a new judicial ethics complaint over his comments about the gay marriage ruling.

“Justice Moore is, I think, a dangerous person. He’s created a crisis in the state before. He just seems hell-bent determined to do it again,” said Richard Cohen, president of the SPLC.

Cohen said judges who refuse to issue licenses risk being sued and were being led into “very, very hot water by suggesting they ignore Judge Granade’s order.”

But Moore said it was his duty as head of the court system to try to help judges sort out the issues.

“I can’t tell them how to think. I can’t tell them how to interpret the Constitution. I can say that they are obliged to follow the Alabama Constitution and nothing prevents that,” Moore said. “To disobey the Alabama Constitution would be to ignore the 81 percent of the people in this state that adopted the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.”

Hundreds rally against gay marriage at Iowa Capitol

About 500 people rallied March 15 at the Iowa Capitol, urging legislators to send a constitutional amendment to voters that would ban same-sex marriage.

The rally featured former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, who said gay marriage will result in child abuse and divorce. He asked opponents to set an example.

“What happens in Iowa, the rest of the nation watches,” Moore said.

About an hour after Moore’s rally, dozens of supporters of gay marriage rights held a counter-rally.

Moore made national headlines in 2003 when he refused to abide by a federal court order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state judicial building. He was later removed from office.

More praised Iowa residents for voting in November to oust three Iowa Supreme Court justices who supported a unanimous 2009 decision that found a state law limiting marriage to heterosexual couples violated the Iowa Constitution.

“I’m proud to say that the people of Iowa stood up to the justices on the Supreme Court and voted them out of office,” Moore said.

Also addressing the crowd was Rev. Keith Ratliff, pastor at Maple Street Missionary Baptist Church in Des Moines, who charged that the gay community is hijacking the civil rights movement for its own purposes.

“In my humble opinion there is no parallel,” Ratliff said. “What an insult to the civil rights movement.”

Troy Price, the political director of One Iowa, the state’s largest gay rights organization, said Ratliff is wrong.

“There are thousands of gays and lesbians across the state that recognize this is an issue of rights, the right to be with the person you love,” Price said.

Price said supporters of same-sex marriage have been working to tell legislators, especially Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, that there is wide support for the court’s decision.

A resolution calling for a statewide vote on whether to amend the Iowa Constitution to ban gay marriages passed the Republican-controlled House in February with overwhelming support and headed to the Senate, where Democrats are in the majority and leaders have vowed to block debate.

The resolution would have to be approved by the current legislature and the one to be elected next year to get onto the ballot.

Gronstal, D-Council Bluffs, has the authority to decide which issues are debated in the full Senate, and has said he will not allow a vote on the resolution.