Columns

Suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore Refuses to Go Quietly

Roy Moore

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who told his state’s lower courts to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court edict on marriage equality, had not left the building and was refusing to do so more than a week after his replacement told Moore to pack up and get out.

“It is a terrible situation,” Justice Moore’s chief defender, Liberty Counsel founder Mat Staver, said on his “Faith and Freedom” radio program. “It makes you feel how African-Americans may have felt — I don’t want to compare the two, but I’m just telling you that an African-American calls the sheriff in in the 1960s for protection, not knowing that, in the evening, that sheriff puts on a KKK outfit. There’s no justice there. Well, there’s no justice still in Montgomery. Justice needs to return.”

Moore was convicted of judicial ethics violations by the Alabama Court of Judiciary because of his order to probate judges that they defy the U.S. Supreme Court and refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay, lesbian and transgendered couples.

The COJ did not remove him from the bench as it did when Moore refused to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building. But for all intent and purposes, his state judicial career is over.

Moore’s term on the Supreme Court ends in 2019, when he will be 69 and would be barred from running for a judicial post again because of his age.

Moore is appealing the suspension. But in the meantime, Acting Chief Justice Lyn Stuart wrote a letter to Moore asking for the keys to his office and ordering him to clean out his desk.

So far, the office keys are still in his pocket and everything that was on his desk before the COJ order is still on his desk.

Moore told AL.com that Stuart has exceeded her authority and should just back off. What the COJ does, he said, is none of her business.

“It’s not her authority to execute the judgment of the COJ,” Moore said.

Staver has filed a motion with the Alabama Supreme Court which asks for an order countermanding Stuart’s letter.

“Compelling the Chief Justice to remove his property pending appeal is a mean-spirited and oppressive action that serves no purpose except to gratuitously humiliate the Chief Justice,” the motion states.

He may not have left the building, but Moore’s chief staff attorney and two other full-time staff attorneys were ordered to turn over their keys and pack up all their belongings, even though they had been assigned to work for other justices after Moore was suspended.

Moore said, just as was the case of his suspension, as far as he is concerned, Stuart’s order to leave the building is nothing but evidence of a conspiratorial political vendetta against him.

“I have been targeted for my belief in marriage, a belief shared by the majority of Americans. No one can point to any illegal, unlawful or unethical aspect of my four-page Administrative Order,” Moore said. “That order was a status report on the case. A justice should not be removed from office because of a political agenda.”

Ironically, there are those in Alabama who think the suspension of Justice Moore is the best thing that could have happened to politician Roy Moore. They’re actually floating his name now as a possible candidate for governor.

The Alabama Forestry Association conducted a poll of Republican primary voters in July and, wonder of wonders, Justice Roy S. Moore’s name came up at the top of the list of possible GOP gubernatorial candidates.

“He has, in politics what we like to call universal ‘name ID,'” Bill Harris, director of political affairs with the Forestry Association, told AL.com. “He has good favorable, and high negatives. I think with Judge Moore, you either like him, or you don’t like him.”

If he does decide to run for governor of Alabama, it wouldn’t be the first time he has tried. Moore ran and lost in 2006 and 2010.

But maybe this time will be different. After all, Moore has shown Republican voters, and all of Alabama, that he is a man who will risk it all for his beliefs by order probate judges to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court.

Natalie Davis, a political science professor at Birmingham-Southern College, said Moore’s standoff with Chief Justice Stuart could be the start of the 2018 race for governor of Alabama.

And, she said, Moore definitely has a “pretty good leg up on the competition.”

“He hasn’t deviated. He’s not a flip-flop,” Davis said. “That is appealing to the Alabama electorate. Alabamians do not want to be told what to do. In a way, that’s how they’ve been governed for many years.”