Mar 13, 2017
MONTGOMERY, AL — Chief Justice Roy Moore’s request to cancel oral argument in order to expedite his appeal has been approved by the Special Court. The oral argument in his case was scheduled for April 26, 2017, but that distant date places a great financial hardship on the Chief Justice and his family. Since the case is fully briefed and there is no reason to delay the final ruling, Chief Justice Moore requested that the Special Court cancel oral argument and expedite its decision.
Already, this politically-motivated punishment has stripped Justice Moore of all income and benefits since September 30, 2019. Even through this hardship, he has continued his appeal for more than five months. The “suspension” imposed against the Chief Justice is the longest suspension in the history of this court. The Court of the Judiciary (COJ) illegally removed him de facto from the bench because political opponents disagreed with his legally accurate analysis. Lacking the 9-0 vote that COJ Rule 16 requires for removal, the COJ “suspended” the Chief for the remainder of his term until 2019, which is a suspension for life since the Chief Justice would reach the age of retirement at that time. In other words, the COJ violated Rule 16.
The current rules guiding judicial behavior unconstitutionally strip all state judges of their rights. While Chief Justice Roy Moore certainly seeks justice in his personal situation, he is also focused on gaining protection for all of the judges in Alabama who could equally suffer under this unjust and illegal precedent that the COJ has attempted to create.
The COJ did not stop at imposing these unjust rules but, from that foundation, illegally stretched its authority to impose a punishment on Chief Justice Moore beyond what it has authority to do. In the order, the COJ admitted it did not have the required unanimous vote of the Alabama Supreme Court to remove Chief Justice Moore, so it “suspended” him for his entire term, which in practice removes him from the bench for the rest of his life. Other Alabama judges have filed an amicus brief siding with Moore that the COJ violated Rule 16 and arguing that the automatic suspension rule violates the rights of judges by placing too much unchecked power in the hands of the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC).
“Chief Justice Moore did nothing wrong and should have never been charged. To allow a precedent that punishes Alabama judges based on political whims will completely undermine our system of justice,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “In this case, the Judicial Inquiry Commission violated the rule of law and the Court of the Judiciary also violated clear law by imposing a suspension for life when it lacked a unanimous vote to remove. We are seeking justice for both wrongs. Chief Justice Moore deserves justice, and a favorable resolution in his case will benefit all Alabama judges,” said Staver.
Liberty Counsel is an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, by providing pro bono assistance and representation on these and related topics.
Photo: Harry Mihet with Chief Justice Roy Moore and Mat Staver