MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The former legal director of the same group that filed an ethics complaint against Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore in an effort to have him removed from offfice has been hired by the state Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) to lead the prosecution of Moore.
“The travesty of the politically motivated charges by the JIC against Chief Justice Roy Moore have become even clearer with the appointment by the JIC of a former legal director of the same organization that filed the charges,” Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, which is representing Moore, said in a press release on Wednesday. “This is a miscarriage of justice of the highest sort.”
As previously reported, Moore was suspended from the bench earlier this month and now faces possible removal after the homosexual advocacy groups Southern Poverty Law Center, People for the American Way, the Human Rights Campaign, and a drag queen who goes by the name Ambrosia Starling, pressed the JIC to take action against Moore.
The situation began in 2013 when two lesbians in the state sued Gov. Robert Bentley, Attorney General Luther Strange and Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis—among others—in an attempt to overturn Alabama’s marriage amendment after one of the women was denied from adopting the other woman’s child.
In January 2015, U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade ruled in favor of the women, prompting Moore to send a memo to probate judges throughout the state, advising that they are not required to issue “marriage” licenses to same-sex couples as he believed that Grenade’s ruling only applied to the two women.
“[N]othing in the orders of Judge Grenadae requires Alabama probate judges to issue marriage licenses that are illegal in Alabama,” he wrote. “Pursuant to … the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Alabama probate judges are not subject to those orders because the probate judges are not parties or associated with any party in those cases.”
“[T]he injunction and the stay or the lifting thereof can only apply to the sole defendant, the Alabama attorney general,” Moore said. “I urge you to uphold and support the Alabama Constitution and the Constitution of the United States to the best of your ability. So help you God.”
Moore also wrote a letter to Gov. Robert Bentley, urging him to “uphold and support the Alabama Constitution with respect to marriage, both for the welfare of this state and for our posterity.”
“Be advised that I will stand with you to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority,” he stated.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) then filed a judicial ethics complaint against Moore over his letter to Gov. Bentley, and the homosexual activist group Human Rights Campaign (HRC) submitted 28,000 petition signatures to the JIC calling for Moore’s removal.
As confusion ensued over Moore’s letter to probate judges, one judge, John Enslen of Elmore County, asked the full Alabama Supreme Court for further guidance. In March 2015, six of the nine judges of the Alabama Supreme Court released a historic order halting the issuance of same-sex “marriage” licenses in the state. Moore recused himself from the matter and was not included in the order.
“As it has done for approximately two centuries, Alabama law allows for ‘marriage’ between only one man and one woman,” the 148-page order read. “Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law. Nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides this duty.”
In January, Moore sent another letter advising that the full court’s would remain in effect until it issued directives in light of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.
“Until further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court, the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court that Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act remain in full force and effect,” he wrote on Jan. 6.
He also noted that his order does not weigh in on how June’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling has impact on the Alabama Supreme Court’s directive, and said that it was not his place to make that determination.
“I am not at liberty to provide any guidance to Alabama probate judges on the effect of Obergefell on the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court. That issue remains before the entire court, which continues to deliberate on the matter,” Moore wrote.
Earlier this month, the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) announced that it had filed ethics charges against Moore as a result of the SPLC complaint, and suspended the chief justice while he faces a trial before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary.
It said that Moore was “bound by the United State Supreme Court’s interpretation and application” of the Constitution to same-sex “marriage,” but Moore notes that his letter had nothing to do with the Supreme Court order, and that the full court was to later issue directives about the matter after receiving legal briefing.
“Moore has disgraced his office for far too long,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen in a statement. “He’s such a religious zealot, such an egomaniac that he thinks he doesn’t have to follow federal court rulings he disagrees with. For the good of the state, he should be kicked out of office.”
Now, it has been announced that former SLPC legal director John Carroll has been hired by the JIC to lead the prosecution of Moore.
“I have almost no words for this corrupt and unjust system,” Staver said in a statement.
Staver’s organization also notes that Carroll had just said earlier this year that it was most likely fine for the Alabama Supreme Court to first request briefing on how the U.S. Supreme Court opinion affected its prior order.
“When the Alabama Supreme Court issued an order requesting additional briefing on the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court marriage opinion, Carroll was quoted in a news article as saying: ‘Did the Alabama Supreme Court have to do this? The answer is no.’ He went on to say, ‘Were they within their rights? I guess,'” Liberty Counsel outlines.
“Interestingly, the same article also quotes from a statement issued by Chief Justice Roy Moore, who had recused himself from participating in the order,” it advises.
Carroll has not commented on the matter but has directed any questions to the JIC.