Contrary to what many right-wing conservative Christians would like to believe, the United States of America is not a Christian theocracy. Roy Moore, Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court was reminded of that fact in the starkest way today. Dare I say, thank God. MSG
(Reprinted from the NY Times 9/30/2016)
Roy Moore, Alabama Chief Justice, Suspended Over Gay Marriage Order
By CAMPBELL ROBERTSON SEPT. 30, 2016
The chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy S. Moore, was suspended on Friday for the remainder of his term in office for ordering the state’s probate judges to defy federal court orders on same-sex marriage.
The suspension was imposed by the state’s Court of the Judiciary, a nine-member body made up of selected judges, lawyers and others. While the court did not remove Chief Justice Moore from the bench entirely, as it did in 2003 after he defied orders to remove a giant monument of the Ten Commandments from the state judicial building, it effectively ended his career as a Supreme Court justice. His term ends in 2019, and Chief Justice Moore, 69, will be barred by law from running again at that time because of his age.
The court was unanimous in its judgment, the decision said, because of both “his disregard for binding federal law,” exhibited in a January order to the state’s 68 probate judges to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and “his history with this court.”
No one expects Chief Justice Moore, a major figure in the culture wars since before he entered statewide office, to depart quietly from the political scene. In the years after his first removal, he ran for governor twice, though he finished far behind in the Republican primaries. He considered running for president in 2012 but decided instead to run, again, for chief justice. His victory without a runoff in the 2012 Republican primary rattled the state’s political establishment, and many high-profile Republicans openly supported the Democrat in the general election. He won with a slim majority.
Chief Justice Moore’s legal views defy easy political classification. He is no friend of big business in his rulings, and he has openly questioned the justice of life sentences for drug violations.
But he is most known for his unyielding social conservatism and his insistence that the law reflect his theology. The federal court decisions on same-sex marriage, including the ruling in June 2015 by the United States Supreme Court that it was a constitutional right, outraged him; in a 93-page concurrence to an Alabama Supreme Court decision on the matter earlier this year, he condemned the gay rights movement as leading to a “wasteland of sexual anarchy” and wrote, in the context of the federal Supreme Court decision, of the “duty to disregard illegal orders.”
The fight over same-sex marriage in Alabama was already well underway, as was a battle between the Alabama Supreme Court and the federal courts that has lasted, at least in Chief Justice Moore’s eyes, to this day.
In his view, the federal Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, guaranteeing same-sex couples the right to marry, was not binding on Alabama directly. Without a final ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court, he insisted, the question was still open, and in January he issued an order to the state’s 68 probate judges, informing them that they had a “ministerial duty” to refuse licenses to same-sex couples until a state-level decision was handed down.
It was this action that brought charges from the Judicial Inquiry Commission, a state oversight body, that he was violating Alabama’s canon of judicial ethics.
“He was instructing state officers to disregard a binding injunction that was consistent with controlling Supreme Court precedent,” said Ronald J. Krotoszynski Jr., a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law. “It was a remarkable thing for him to do.”
What Chief Justice Moore will do next is a matter of speculation in Montgomery: Some say he may run for attorney general, others say governor. But most everyone agrees that he will remain in the public eye.
“The last time he was kicked off as chief justice, he ran for governor,” said Jack Campbell, a Republican consultant and a former spokesman for the state Supreme Court. “I don’t think he’s done.”