This week the Alabama Court of the Judiciary ruled suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore will have to go on trial next month to face judicial ethics charges, which could (once again) result in his removal from office. Moore had filed a motion with the court to dismiss the charges, which the court denied.
Moore made national headlines (again) in January when he ordered probate judges around the state to cease issuing same-sex marriage licenses even though the U.S. Supreme Court had already made it the law of the land in Obergefell v. Hodges last June.
Moore has claimed he was just trying to clear up confusion while there was a case still in front of the Alabama Supreme Court. That case was filed before the Obergefell ruling and was ultimately dismissed in March of this year.
Moore has maintained this “guidance” defense, but since the Supremes had already ruled on this, Moore’s order was viewed as an act of defiance by most, including the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC), which charged Moore with six counts of violating judicial ethics in May, saying he “abandoned his role as a neutral and detached chief administrator of the judicial system.”
Moore had also previously sought to uphold the ban on same-sex marriage after U.S. District Judge Callie Granade’s ruling that the ban was unconstitutional (but before the Obergefell ruling). Moore made the argument then that he was more concerned with the “process” in which same-sex marriage came to Alabama rather than the ruling itself. And some legal scholars agreed with him on that.
But Moore had made his personal thoughts clear on this issue for some time. In a letter to Gov. Robert Bentley after the Granade ruling, he did express his feelings on the federal government’s overreach, but also cited the Bible on the definition of marriage. He had also told a church congregation that the Supreme Court had “destroyed the institution of God.” And after the JIC’s actions, he blamed a drag queen performer named Ambrosia Starling for the charges brought against him.
“The JIC has chosen to listen to people like Ambrosia Starling, a professed transvestite, and other gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals, as well as organizations which support their agenda,” a statement released by Moore read.
No, my fellow Alabamians, you, indeed, cannot even make this stuff up.
And of course, this is not the first time his personal views led him to defy a federal court order. He was removed from office in 2003 when he refused to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments which he had commissioned for a state judicial building.
I know some agree with Moore’s view that same-sex marriage should be banned because of religious views. But that’s not the real issue here. This is America. When the Supreme Court rules on something, like it or not, you can’t defy it — even if you don’t think they should have ruled on it in the first place or if you think they are the ones being “activists.” They are the final stop and one of the reasons why they have become such an important consideration in the presidential race.
These checks and balances and long, grueling court processes are part of the foundation our great nation was built on and what keeps it civilized. One dude can’t just decide to do what he wants, whether it’s over granite statues or marriage licenses.
Moore may be claiming he was just trying to clear up “confusion” (and that may have been believable from a more measured, thoughtful jurist), but it’s pretty obvious he was (once again) just trying to get around a decision he and his supporters vehemently disagree with.
And while you may agree with him on the issues of the Ten Commandments statue and same-sex marriage, ask yourself: what happens when you don’t? Do you really want a person who acts like this over the highest court in the state? Or any court, for that matter?
He was sworn in to be a “neutral and detached chief administrator of the judicial system.” He is clearly neither neutral nor detached. In fact, his personal views have always caused him to be more of an activist than a jurist. And that’s really scary.
I was absolutely amazed he managed to get re-elected after his previous shenanigans. I hoped he had at least learned from them, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. What is it they say about getting the government you deserve?
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