Feb 1, 2017
MONTGOMERY, AL — Liberty Counsel filed a 50-page reply brief, on behalf of Chief Justice Roy Moore, with the specially selected panel of judges at the Alabama Supreme Court. The filing of this brief contains the final written arguments. The next step in the case will be oral argument and a final decision by the Court. A date has not yet been set on the oral argument.
The brief rebuts the arguments of the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) and the ruling by the Court of the Judiciary (COJ). It points out that only the Alabama Supreme Court has jurisdiction over administrative orders issued by a Chief Justice and that such orders cannot serve as the basis for ethical charges. An amicus brief filed by other Alabama judges also notes that the JIC has no authority to engage in any review of an administrative order of the Chief Justice. To allow the JIC to supplant the authority that Alabama law vests solely in the Alabama Supreme Court would set a dangerous precedent for all judges in Alabama.
The brief also argues that the COJ violated Rule 16 by permanently removing Chief Justice Moore from the bench without having the unanimous vote of all members of the COJ. It also notes that Charge 6, regarding recusal, was never properly before the COJ. There was no verified complaint and no vote by the JIC on Charge 6. Because there was no complaint on which to vote, none of the required investigation letters from the JIC noted the JIC was considering such a charge. As such, Chief Justice Moore was denied his right to formal notice on any such charge, which is a violation of the JIC’s rules and due process.
The four-page Administrative Order on its face stated: “I am not at liberty to provide any guidance to Alabama probate judges on the effect of Obergefell on the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court. That issue remains before the entire Court which continues to deliberate on the matter.” This unequivocal statement destroys the JIC and COJ’s argument that Chief Justice Moore ordered probate judges to defy federal law, which is the sole basis upon which the COJ convicted the Chief Justice. There is no evidence to support any of the charges against Chief Justice Moore, and his conviction should be reversed.
“The JIC did not have the authority to review the Administrative Order,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “That authority belongs only to the Alabama Supreme Court and that court did not modify or overrule that order. Any objective review of this case must conclude that Chief Justice Moore did nothing wrong and should have never been charged. The JIC violated the rule of law and the COJ violated clear law when it de facto removed Chief Justice Moore when the order admits the court did not have the required unanimous vote to remove,” 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.