After serving as the state’s acting top judge for nearly a year following the suspension of Roy Moore from the bench, Lyn Stuart has officially been sworn in as Alabama’s second female chief justice, just as election season begins.
Moore’s seat was formally vacated when he submitted his resignation and announced his intention to run against Luther Strange for the U.S. Senate seat previously held by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Following Moore’s resignation, Gov. Kay Ivey appointed Stuart to the role.
“Chief Justice Stuart has served with honor and integrity on the high court for more than 16 years,” Gov. Ivey said in a statement. “I look forward to working with her as she now leads the judicial branch of state government.”
Stuart, who administered the oath of office when Ivey assumed the governor’s chair, was sworn in by Associate Justice James Main on April 26. Stuart is an Atmore native who lives in Baldwin County.
Just before Stuart’s swearing in, former Chief Justice Roy Moore announced his intentions to run for the same U.S. Senate seat just outside the Capitol in Montgomery.
“My position has always been God first, family, then country,” Moore said in his campaign kickoff speech. “I share the vision of President Donald Trump to make America great again … Before we can make America great again, we’ve got to make America good again.”
Asked about Moore, Chief Justice Stuart avoided criticizing her predecessor, who has twice been reprimanded by the state’s judicial inquiry commission for a failure to follow the orders of higher courts — once regarding the removal of a Ten Commandments statue from a public building and once regarding the U.S. Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision, which Moore opposes.
“We’re just very different,” she said. “We have different personalities. I don’t have an agenda at all. I just want to do the best job I possibly can on the Supreme Court.”
Moore won’t face an easy path to the U.S. Senate. Aside from Strange, the GOP incumbent appointed by the former governor, Moore will face Ed Henry, the Alabama House representative who led the impeachment charge against then-Gov. Robert Bentley. Henry, like Moore, expressed his support of Trump when announcing his run.
“Trump’s going to need help draining the swamp,” Henry has said. “One thing I have been able to do here is not necessarily drain the swamp but I’ve definitely dropped enough bombs in it that we’ve found some bottom-dwellers and they are floating to the top.”
The U.S. Senate seat isn’t the only electoral prize soon up for grabs. Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, a Republican, has announced he will seek the governorship. No other major candidate — including Ivey — has yet announced their intention to seek the office.
“For too long, the people of Alabama have seen our values come under attack,” Battle said in announcing his bid for governor. “We’ve endured corruption instead of opportunity, scandal instead of education and embarrassment instead of pride. We’re not just in a battle for Alabama’s values, we’re in a battle for Alabama’s future. I’m running for governor because I’m ready to lead that fight.”