Word broke late Friday night that Roy Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, may be on the verge of losing his job – again.
When we last left the Ayatollah of Alabama, he was throwing a hissy-fit over marriage equality. That mean old U.S. Supreme Court had issued a ruling that had the effect of making marriage equality the law in all 50 states. Moore, channeling his inner Jefferson Davis, decided to nullify the decision.
Apropos of pretty much nothing, Moore on Jan. 6 issued a bizarre administrative order telling all probate judges in the state not to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He insisted that an Alabama law barring same-sex marriage was still in effect.
It wasn’t. It had been eradicated by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. Also, a federal court in Alabama had specifically ruled that Alabama probate judges were required by the Obergefell decision to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had reached the same conclusion. The matter was settled.
Thankfully, most probate judges in the state realized that Moore was grandstanding and ignored him.
At the time this happened, Americans United Executive Director Barry W. Lynn issued a press statement that read, “Roy Moore is the judicial equivalent of segregationists like George Wallace who stood in a schoolhouse door to block equality and freedom. Wallace lost, and Moore will lose too.”
That loss may come soon. Several complaints were filed against him, and the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission has forwarded charges to the Alabama Court of the Judiciary for investigation. Moore has been suspended (with pay) while this plays out.
If this sounds familiar, there’s a reason. In 2003, Moore was removed from the Alabama high court after he disobeyed a federal court ruling and refused to take down a Ten Commandments monument from the Judicial Building in Montgomery. Americans United, the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Alabama branch of the American Civil Liberties Union had sued over that matter.
Do you sense a pattern here? Moore seems to believe he doesn’t have to follow the law. True to form, Moore is now insisting that the Inquiry Commission has no authority over him. He also blames his problems on Ambrosia Starling, a transgender rights activist who has led protests against him.
“The Judicial Inquiry Commission has chosen to listen to people like Ambrosia Starling, a professed transvestite and other gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals, as well as organizations that support their agenda,” Moore carped to the news site AL.com.
Moore, aided by his attorney, the LGBT-bashing Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, plans to vigorously contest the charges.
Note what is missing here: any amount of self-reflection or personal responsibility. It’s as if Moore is unable to grasp the fact that his own actions have led him to this place. If he hadn’t issued that goofy, clearly illegal order, none of this would be taking place.
But there may be a method to Moore’s madness. State judges in Alabama face mandatory retirement at age 70. Moore is 69. Since his time on the bench is winding down, all of this may be a stunt to keep his name in the spotlight as Moore positions himself for another shot at the governor’s mansion. (The current governor, Robert Bentley, is in mid-term but is facing possible impeachment due to a sex scandal.)
Would Moore really be craven enough to do that? Sure. It’s either that or trying to eke out a living penning execrable poetry and speaking on the Religious Right’s rubber chicken circuit, neither of which holds much promise for long-term employment.
No matter what Moore does in the future, one thing is clear: He should never be allowed near a courtroom again in any capacity. The man obviously has no respect for the law.
Follow Rob Boston online at @RobBoston1