Chief Justice Roy Moore Counters Politically Motivated Complaints on Marriage

Apr 27, 2016

Montgomery, AL — Today at a press conference, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and his attorneys called upon the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission ("JIC") to dismiss unfounded and politically motivated complaints filed against him by the Southern Poverty Law Center ("SPLC"), People for the American Way, the Human Rights Campaign, atheists, and homosexual activists. Ambrosia Starling, a transvestite, addressing a rally held on the plaza of the Alabama Judicial Building, urged homosexual activists and their supporters to file form complaints against the Chief Justice. Starling provided a "suggested text" to be "hand-transcribed" into the complaint form. She called for 50 people to “participate in the movement together as a group” by copying the provided text into the official complaint form. A free notary was on hand at the rally to formalize the complaints against the Chief Justice.

At the conclusion of the rally, a same-sex wedding ceremony was performed on the steps of the Judicial Building in contradiction of existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court that were then under review.

Chief Justice Moore is represented by Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, and Philip Jauregui, President and Founder of Judicial Action Group. The attorneys for the Chief Justice explained that the complaints against him are not about ethical misconduct, but instead are an attack on his statements and administrative orders about the legal status of Alabama’s Sanctity of Marriage laws.

Under the Alabama Constitution, the Chief Justice has administrative authority over Alabama probate judges. When a federal district court ruled against the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage laws, the probate judges were confused about whether they should issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In February 2015, Chief Justice Moore issued an Administrative Order stating that the opinion from the federal court applied only to the parties in that case and that the probate judges as non-parties to that case were bound to follow Alabama law. In March 2015, the Alabama Supreme Court ordered the probate judges to cease issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. [March 3, 2015; March 10, 2015; and March 12, 2015]. In a separate ruling, the federal district court also acknowledged that its opinion was limited to the parties only.

In January 2016, the Chief Justice issued a second Administrative Order, reminding the probate judges that the March 2015 Order remained in effect, pending further action by the Alabama Supreme Court. In that Order, the Chief Justice did not tell the probate judges to disobey federal court orders as has, at times, been incorrectly reported. On March 4, 2016, the Alabama Supreme Court issued the Certificate of Judgment on the March 2015 Orders and did not vacate, modify, or otherwise disturb those Orders, as Chief Justice Moore explained in his concurring opinion.

"The complaints against Chief Justice Roy Moore are about marriage, as indicated by the rally held on the steps of the Supreme Court. He did nothing wrong. The politically motivated complaints filed with the JIC have no basis in the Canons of Judicial Ethics. The Alabama Supreme Court is the only body that has statutory authority to overrule administrative orders of the Chief Justice. See § 12-5-20, Ala. Code 1975. The complaints filed against the Chief Justice ask the JIC to usurp the legal authority of the Justices of the Alabama Supreme Court to review the administrative orders of the Chief Justice. Those complaints also pose a threat to the doctrine of judicial independence. Judges must be free to exercise their considered judgment without the threat of being attacked by organizations and individuals who wish to misuse the ethical process to further a radical political agenda," said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.

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.