It’s been quite some time since we’ve written about former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, a raging homophobe who believes he is the boss of the United States Supreme Court. He was suspended for the rest of his term by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary for issuing an order telling Alabama’s probate judges they should ignore the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges striking down state laws that discriminate against same-sex couples seeking a marriage license. We had hoped that he would fade quietly into the scenery and we wouldn’t have to write again about his religious zealotry and his belief that the rule of law does not apply to him.
It was not to be. Roy Moore is leaving about as quietly as a Trump supporter asked to leave a Clinton rally.
To recap, last spring the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission issued what amounted to an indictment against Moore for his illegal order. As a result of the JIC’s accusation, Moore was suspended from office pending his trial on the charges before the COJ. Moore retained Mathew Staver, that religious nut Liberty Counsel lawyer who defended Kim Davis (the Kentucky probate clerk who refused to do her damned job and issue marriage licenses to icky gay people). After a full-blown trial with witnesses, the COJ at the end of September issued an order that, from a procedural standpoint, was a bit odd. The unanimous nine-member panel did not remove Moore from office entirely like it did in 2003 after the Ten Commandments monument debacle. Instead, the panel voted to suspend Moore from office until the end of his term, and since Moore will be at the mandatory retirement age of 70 by that time, effectively ended his judicial career.
Moore appealed the COJ’s decision, arguing that the COJ did not have the power to suspend him, but could only remove him entirely (a completely frivolous argument). He also plans to argue the merits, repeating his claim he made before the COJ that his order directing probate judges to ignore the U.S. Supreme was merely “ministerial,” rather than flouting the law and the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which makes the U.S. Supreme Court, not Roy Moore, the boss of the Constitution.
The Alabama Supreme Court promptly fired Moore’s law clerks, who had been assigned to work for other justices during the pendency of his case before the COJ, and instructed Moore to clean out his office. Moore pitched a hissy fit and claimed that the Court was powerless to act until Moore’s appeal had run its course. He has filed motions to countermand the Supreme Court’s actions in firing his clerks and telling him to come fetch his stuff from the courthouse.
Moore clearly has a problem with authority, other than that found in his brand of the Bible.
On Moore’s motion, the remaining justices of the Alabama Supreme Court have now recused themselves, just as they did in 2003, and will appoint a panel of current and retired judges to hear the appeal.
Meanwhile, my friends at Alabama Political Reporter, whose editor, Bill Britt, seems strangely on Moore’s side, have filed a lawsuit to unseal the court records of Moore’s trial before the COJ. Moore has joined in that request. While I disagree with Bill that there is any evidence that there has been a miscarriage of justice in Moore’s case, I agree that the court records should be unsealed so the public can decide that for themselves.
And so it goes. Moore will continue to kick and scream until all appellate avenues are exhausted.
And maybe then he will shut up and go home.