Alabama Supreme Court Upholds Roy Moore’s Lifetime Suspension

Suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. Image from WKRG Channel 5, Montgomery, Alabama.

The Religious Right legal group Liberty Counsel has been waging a long struggle to defend Roy Moore, the Alabama Chief Justice who was suspended last year by the Court of the Judiciary for sending the state’s probate judges an order essentially telling them to defy the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling. Today Liberty Counsel lost another round in that battle, as a Special Court composed of seven retired judges, acting as the state Supreme Court because sitting justices recused themselves from Moore’s appeal, unanimously upheld his lifetime suspension.

“This opinion and the entire case against Chief Justice Moore is a tragedy,” complained Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver in a Wednesday afternoon press release, calling Moore’s suspension a “politically-motivated punishment.”

Last fall, Staver called Moore’s suspension evidence of “the breakdown of the rule of law” in America. But it might have pointed to another kind of breakdown as Staver’s own public praise for state judges “standing up against the federal judiciary” was cited by the Court to discount Moore’s defense that his order had been nothing more than a “status update.”

Liberty Counsel also represented marriage-license-refusing county clerk Kim Davis. At Liberty Counsel’s Awakening conference last year, Oklahoma pastor and activist Paul Blair promoted his efforts to get states to defy the Supreme Court’s rulings on marriage equality and abortion. Last month, Liberty Counsel , Staver and Liberty University were added to a lawsuit alleging that they played a role in helping a former client kidnap her daughter and flee the country to evade custody rulings involving her former same-sex partner.

Moore, who was removed from the court in his previous stint as chief justice after defying a federal ruling to remove a Ten Commandments monument he had installed in the courthouse rotunda, seems unlikely to slip quietly into private life. When he scheduled a press conference to make an “announcement” on Wednesday afternoon, some local media speculated that he might be announcing a run for the U.S. Senate. But, reports WKRG in Montgomery, “Moore instead chose to blast the Alabama Supreme Court system and the judges responsible for his suspension for defying the federal courts on gay marriage in the state.” He said he would talk about his future plans at “a later time.”