Suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy
Moore is facing charges that he abused his power by attempting to
block gay and lesbian couples from marrying.
Moore's outspoken opposition to
marriage equality led the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to file
complaints with the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission, which
forwarded the charges to the Alabama Court of the Judiciary.
During a 4-hour trial in Montgomery on
Wednesday, Moore denied that he ordered probate judges to defy the
U.S. Supreme Court's order in Obergefell, which found that gay
couples have a constitutional right to marry.
Moore issued an administrative order to
the state's 68 probate judges months after the high court's ruling in
which he said that Alabama's marriage ban was still in effect because
it had been upheld by an Alabama Supreme Court ruling issued four
months before the Supreme Court's decision.
“In that administrative order, I
wasn't telling them to do anything,” said Moore, the only person to
testify at Wednesday's trial. “I would not defy any federal court
The January 6 order was meant to
provide a “status” report for judges, Moore argued, according
Some counties, including Mobile County,
among the busiest in the state, temporarily stopped issuing marriage
licenses to all couples in response to Moore's order.
Mat Staver of the Christian
conservative law group Liberty Counsel is representing Moore. Staver
also represented Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis in her legal fight
to keep her office from issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.
“The administrative order did not
change the status quo,” Staver argued. “You don't have a defiant
chief justice here before you.”
The Court of the Judiciary has ten days
to decide whether Moore should be censured, suspended or removed from
the bench. Removal would require a unanimous decision from the
court's nine members. It said it would release its ruling online,
not in court.
Moore was ousted from the bench by the
same court in 2003 for refusing to remove from public property a
monument of the Ten Commandments which he had commissioned. Voters
returned him to the bench a decade later.