Suspended Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, whose was officially ousted from the bench this week, is now considering a bid for the state’s U.S. Senate seat, and promised to announce a decision next week.
Long a controversial figure, Chief Justice Moore’s colleagues on the high court voted Tuesday to uphold his suspension, finding he tried to thwart the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling recognizing a national right to same-sex marriage.
“This was a politically motivated prosecution from the very beginning,” Chief Justice Moore said after a final ruling Tuesday by the other justices on the Supreme Court. “I’ve done my duty under the laws of this state to uphold the sanctity of marriage and the undeniable truth that God ordained marriage between one man and one woman. Mere human judges have no authority to say otherwise.”
Now, he has his eye on the legislative side of government, saying he’s eyeing a bid to win the seat vacated by former Sen. Jeff Sessions, who left to become U.S. Attorney General.
Luther Strange, Alabama’s former attorney general, was appointed to the seat, but the governor has called a special election in December to fill out the rest of the term.
“I will reveal my future plans. I’ve got to talk to my family,” Chief Justice Moore said during a press conference on Wednesday when asked if he’s considering running for governor or the U.S. Senate.
He unsuccessfully ran for governor in the Republican primaries in both 2006 and 2010.
His suspension does not prevent him from running for senator or governor, but he is prohibited from seeking another judge’s post because he would breach the state’s mandatory retirement age.
This is the second time he’s been suspended as the state’s chief justice.
He was previously suspended from his position in 2003 after refusing to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state Supreme Court, despite a federal order to do so. However, he was re-elected to the position in 2012.
After the U.S. Supreme Court’s same-sex ruling in 2015, Chief Justice Moore sent a letter to then-Gov. Robert Bentley questioning whether the federal decision should trump Alabama’s own constitutional prohibition on same-sex marriage. He then told the state’s probate judges they would be violating their oaths if they issued same-sex marriage licenses.
A judicial inquiry commission concluded that the chief justice had violated ethics rules and needed to be ousted, and the state Supreme Court upheld that ruling this week.
Chief Justice Moore’s attorney Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, said the case “is a tragedy.”
“For the first time in the history of Alabama, a justice has been disciplined for issuing an administrative order. Under this system, no judge is safe to issue orders or render dissents. The system has to change, and politics should be removed from judicial decision making and disciplinary actions,” said Mr. Staver.
Mr. Staver said this decision is the end of the road for his client who doesn’t wish to appeal to the nation's highest court.
“There’s a remote possibility of asking the U.S. Supreme Court to be involved,” Mr. Staver said. “In terms of the likelihood of the Supreme Court taking the case like this, with it based purely on state law, is exceptionally remote.”
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