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Alabama Chief Justice Suspended After He Tells Probate Judges to Ignore Federal Supreme Court Gay Marriage Ruling

October 26, 2016

It’s official: Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was suspended without pay for the remainder of his term. He is age-barred from running in the future, as Moore is 69 years old, so his term as a judge is officially over.

He won’t clean out his desk or remove his personal effects from his office, calling measures to enforce his suspension “mean-spirited” and designed to “humiliate” him, even when Roy Moore has been suspended without pay for the remainder of his term:

Suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore says he did not respond to the acting chief justice’s request to clean out his office on or before Tuesday.

Acting Chief Justice Lyn Stuart sent a letter to Moore last week asking him to clean out his personal items and turn over his keys to the state judicial building in the wake of his recent conviction by the Court of the Judiciary on judicial ethics charges. Moore is appealing the decision of the COJ, which suspended him without pay for the remainder of his term.

But Moore said in an interview with AL.com on Tuesday that he had not and would not respond to Stuart. He said that Stuart exceeded her authority in making that request. “It’s not her authority to execute the judgement of the COJ,” he said.

Perhaps Moore just has problems taking orders from a woman. Moore did start this fight by tangling with a federal judge, also a woman, about his own personal sovereignty in Alabama superseding federal authority. And because both defiant acts are so clearly flaunting a disregard for federal law and its judiciary by none other than a chief justice, who can’t claim ignorance, it seems as though his virulent hatred of gay marriage might also spill over into his defiance of any women in authority positions. Why else would someone pick fights they are born to lose?

The judge has apparently forgotten that when someone is found guilty of a crime, they can still be sent to jail, and an appeal can be filed while someone is serving time. In other words, the judge should start serving his sentence now, not get to delay his sentence pending a pipe dream; however, that’s not the  former judge’s argument for not cleaning out his office. His argument is that he just has too much stuff that is too precious to move:

“Though it is difficult to imagine that the JIC would be so petty minded as to seek such an order, such an interim remedy would properly fall within the province of the duly qualified Court that will decide this appeal,” Moore’s motion states.

The motion also argues that even if Moore is partially successful on his appeal, he would “have to suffer the needless disruption of removing his property from the Judicial Building, only to have to restore it again.”

Moore also says in the motion his personal effects consist more than just a few personal papers and books that could easily be removed.

“He has decorated the Chief Justice’s suite to reflect the dignity of his position, including historic artwork and statuary that required a team of movers to install,” according to the motion. “A massive grandfather clock stands outside the door to his private office. Large portraits of Lincoln and Washington adorn the walls. An impressive rendition of Peter Rothermel’s 1851 painting of Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty” speech before the House of Burgesses fills a large wall space near the grandfather clock.”

“Ornately framed copies of John Trumbull’s “Declaration of Independence” and of Howard Chandler Christy’s “Scene at the Signing of the Constitution” fill the walls in the Chief Justice’s conference room,” the motion states. “Removal and storage of the framed artwork and other objects d’art from the office of the Chief Justice would be a significant task, one that is impractical to accomplish within the few days Justice Stuart has allotted.”

Moore’s defense mainly consists of: “I have too much shit to move, so I won’t,” and lacks anything more than the type of slavering expected at the reading of a will, before people find out the old relative they hated is actually broke, boasting about copies of paintings, like saying they owned a framed postcard of a Degas print and called it artwork because they bought it in the museum gift shop. There is a clock, a couple of paintings, copies of the Declaration of Independence and “objects d’art,” which might include nothing more than rock paperweights, for all we know.

Moore argues his removal is “illegal” because the vote to remove him wasn’t unanimous; however, the vote to suspend him without pay was unanimous. There is no rule stating a suspension without pay is illegal, especially if its unanimously imposed. Whether he gets to keep his office while serving a suspension without pay has yet to be determined.

Moore has now been removed from the judicial bench twice now, once in 2003 because he refused to take down a 10 Commandments monument in his workplace, and again in October 2016 after he was found guilty of order probate judges to defy the United States Supreme Court.

The suspension was imposed by the state’s Court of the Judiciary, a nine-member body of selected judges, lawyers and others, which found Judge Moore guilty on six charges. While the court did not take him off the bench entirely, as it did in 2003 after he defied orders to remove a giant Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building, it effectively ended his state judicial career. His term ends in 2019, and Judge Moore, 69, will be barred by law from running for a judicial position again because of his age.

The court said in its decision that most, but not all, of its members had supported fully removing Judge Moore from the bench, but removal requires a unanimous vote. The decision to suspend him, the court said, was unanimous.

The judiciary review found Moore’s argument that he offered a status update unconvincing, perhaps owing to that “wasteland of sexual anarchy” comment they found somewhere, but who can tell.

At his trial, Moore argued his Jan. 6 memo was merely a status update and did not defy any federal court order. The COJ’s 50-page ruling, however, stated Moore’s claim was not “credible.”

Moore’s memo, the COJ stated, “can be reasonably read as requiring defiance of the United States Supreme Court and the district court” that required probate judges to grant licenses to same-sex couples.

Apparently the COJ wasn’t buying Moore’s “status update” defense:

The court found that the “clear purpose” of Judge Moore’s January order to the state’s 68 probate judges to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, which he called simply a “status update” on the legal situation, was “to order and direct the probate judges, most of whom had never been admitted to practice law in Alabama, to stop complying with binding federal law.”

Proof that holding grossly homophobic views impacts the brain cells, a chief justice at the time, Moore tried to argue that he was just “updating the probate judges,” while at the same time, railing against gay marriage. While Moore’s lawyer argued the decision to remove Moore was “illegal,” Moore, himself, argued this: “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,”

You can see why Moore got himself an attorney.

 Apparently the court saw through Moore’s sheer bigotry, arguing a decisions is illegal and has nothing to do with his personal views, while at the same time calling gay rights a “wasteland of sexual anarchy…” No, nothing personal about his decision.

The court found that the “clear purpose” of Judge Moore’s January order to the state’s 68 probate judges to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, which he called simply a “status update” on the legal situation, was “to order and direct the probate judges, most of whom had never been admitted to practice law in Alabama, to stop complying with binding federal law.”

 This all started last spring, when Judge Moore decided to tangle with a federal judge and argue that his rule as a state of Alabama Chief Justice superseded federal authority. And, even when he wasn’t winning, he kept up the same argument:

The charges concern a series of cases going back to last year. In January 2015, Callie V.S. Granade, a federal judge in Mobile, ruled that Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Days later, Chief Justice Moore wrote a letter to the governor, denying that the federal government had the authority to redefine the institution of marriage and insisting that “we must oppose such tyranny.”

All spring a judicial battle ensued, referred to by prosecutors as “a constitutional game of chicken.” Judge Granade expanded her ruling to apply to every probate judge in the state. The Alabama Supreme Court, meanwhile, said that the state’s law outlawing same-sex marriage was indeed constitutional and ordered probate judges to carry it out.

…Lawyers for the Judicial Inquiry Commission said the matter was just not that complicated: after the United States Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples had “the fundamental right to marry in all states,” and after the federal injunction went into effect in Alabama, the game of chicken was over. The chief justice, who had called the ruling “immoral, unconstitutional and tyrannical,” had simply been defying the federal courts once again, they said, only this time he was directing 68 other officials to do it, too.

“We are here 13 years later,” said John Carroll, acting as prosecutor in the case, “because the chief justice has learned nothing.”

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