MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Southern Poverty Law Center on Wednesday accused Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore of violating judicial ethics with his public criticisms of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
The group filed a supplement to its Judicial Inquiry Commission complaint lodged earlier this year against Moore. The filing contends Moore committed ethics violations by improperly commenting on pending cases and by saying that he couldn’t accept the gay marriage ruling as binding precedent and would recuse himself in future cases.
The complaint states that Moore’s, “open and blatant disregard for judicial ethics demonstrates that he is unfit to be judge.”
“If Chief Justice Moore wants to make political speeches or be an activist in opposition to same-sex marriage, he is free to do so, but he cannot simultaneously hold his current position on the Alabama Supreme Court,” SPLC President Richard Cohen wrote in the complaint.
Moore did not have a comment on the filing, a spokesman for the court system said.
The outspoken chief justice has criticized the gay marriage decision, saying it has “destroyed the foundation of our country which is family.”
The Republican chief justice, often a lightning rod for controversy, has been careful at times to quote or paraphrase the words of dissenting justices in the marriage case in describing his opposition.
The SPLC filed the initial complaint earlier this year after Moore advised Alabama probate judges to not give marriage licenses to same-sex couples, saying they were part of an independent judicial branch and not bound by a federal judge’s order overturning Alabama’s ban on gay marriage.
The judicial ethics panel in 2003 removed Moore as chief justice for disobeying a court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building.
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