Apr 19, 2017
MONTGOMERY, AL — Today, the Special Court of retired judges, sitting as the Alabama Supreme Court, issued its decision affirming the Court of the Judiciary’s (COJ) September 30, 2016, opinion imposing a lifetime suspension for Chief Justice Roy Moore. “This opinion and the entire case against Chief Justice Moore is a tragedy. For the first time in the history of Alabama, a justice has been disciplined for issuing an Administrative Order. Under this system, no judge is safe to issue orders or render dissents. The system has to change, and politics should be removed from judicial decision making and disciplinary actions,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, which represents Chief Justice Moore.
This politically-motivated punishment has stripped Chief Justice Moore of all income and benefits since September 30, 2016. The “suspension” imposed against the Chief Justice is the longest suspension in the history of Alabama. The COJ admitted it did not have a unanimous vote to remove the Chief under COJ Rule 16, so the COJ suspended him for life. Removal or suspending for life is the same thing. And now, the Special Court allows the COJ to violate its own rule.
The Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) rules require that a complaint against a judge can only proceed with (1) a verified Complaint, (2) a vote by the JIC, (3) notice of the Complaint to the judge, and (4) continuing notice every six weeks to the judge that the Complaint is still under review. None of these requirements occurred regarding Charge 6, pertaining to whether Chief Justice Moore should recuse himself from the 2016 opinion. Yet, the Special Court sees no problem with the JIC violating this rule.
“The JIC and the COJ can apparently now violate their own rules and second-guess a judge’s judicial order to remove him from the bench for life. Some people may applaud today’s decision because they oppose Chief Justice Moore. Many will be saddened by this opinion. No one is a winner today. Neither the people of Alabama, and especially its judges, should take comfort. The system needs to be fixed,” 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.