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Alabama Supreme Court upholds decision to remove former chief justice

[JURIST] The Alabama Supreme Court [official website] on Wednesday upheld [order] the September 2016 Court of the Judiciary [official website] decision [JURIST report] to suspend Chief Justice Roy Moore for violation of the Canons of Judicial Ethics [text] by issuing orders contradicting the US Supreme Court's recognition of same-sex marriage. In January, 2015, federal judge Callie Garande issued an order [Constitution Center report] ruling that Alabama's statutory proscription on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. In response, Moore issued an administrative order preventing Alabama's probate judges from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. While Garande's order was pending before the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, the US Supreme Court [official website] recognized a fundamental right to marriage for same-sex couples in Obergefell v. Hodges. When Moore continued to attempt to restrict same-sex marriage, he was removed from duty. On the Alabama Supreme Court's decision, Moore stated, "I have done my duty under the laws of this state to stand for the undeniable truth that God ordained marriage as the union of one and one woman." Moore has expressed interest in running for Senate.

Justice Roy Moore was suspended [JURIST report] in May, 2016 after being charged with violating ethical rules. The Judicial Inquiry Commission accused Moore of failing to act impartially and refusing to follow the law when he ordered [text, PDF] probate judges not to issue same-sex marriage licenses [JURIST report] as their issuance ran contrary to Alabama law. Moore argued that the US Supreme Court ruling only applied to the plaintiff in the case, and that probate judges in Alabama had not been ordered to issue same-sex marriage licenses. The commission stated that Moore is bound by the Supreme Court interpretation of the Constitution and has violated the law. Soon after being suspended, Moore filed suit in federal court challenging the JIC's rule that any judge under investigation must be suspended. In August, the court dismissed [JURIST report] Moore's complaint, finding that it was not the federal court's place to intervene in issues of state constitutional law. The Supreme Court issued the Obergefell decision [JURIST report] in June, 2015.

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