MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The chief judge of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary (COJ) who also serves as an elder as his local church has joined in an order refusing to dismiss the ethics charges against Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, resulting in a trial.
Attorneys for Moore had sought to have his charges dismissed without the matter moving to trial, while the state Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) asked that he be immediately removed from the bench.
On Monday, Justice J. Michael Joiner, the chief judge of the COJ, joined his eight colleagues in denying both requests.
“All pending summary judgment motions in this matter are denied,” the order reads, setting a trial date of Sept. 28.
As previously reported, Joiner is an elder at The Church at Brookhills in Birmingham and serves as a Bible teacher.
“He is an active member of The Church at Brookhills where he teaches a Bible study class,” his bio reads. “He previously served as Deacon and Chairman of the Shelby Baptist Association Credentials Committee.”
In 2014, Joiner, who serves on the Alabama Criminal Court of Appeals, likewise joined his colleagues in striking down a state law that criminalized those who engage in “deviate sexual intercourse with another person,” and “[c]onsent is no defense to a prosecution.”
The case, Williams v. Alabama, centered on a Dallas County man who sodomized another man after forcing him to drop his pants, and was sentenced to 12 months behind bars for sexual misconduct under the law.
“The Supreme Court concluded that the statute violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and that it ‘further[ed] legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual,’” the justices wrote. “Because ‘[t]he only federal court whose decisions bind state courts is the United States Supreme Court’ Lawrence controls our decision.”
A call to The Church at Brookhills was not returned.
As previously reported, Chief Justice Moore was brought before the COJ after he was suspended from the bench in May due to complaints to the JIC from 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.
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 Grenade 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.
In May, the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) announced that it had filed ethics charges against Moore, and suspended the chief justice while the matter was brought before the COJ.
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.
The JIC had asked the COJ to immediately remove Moore from the bench without a trial, while Moore’s attorneys with Liberty Counsel asked for the case to be dismissed without trial. The COJ refused both requests, ordering Moore to stand trial.
He will appear at the Alabama Supreme Court on Sept. 28.