News (USA)

Alabama judge who blocked same-sex marriage faces removal

Alabama judge who blocked same-sex marriage faces removal

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — A hearing set for Monday will determine the course of the judicial ethics case against suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who could be removed from office for an order he issued about same-sex marriage.

The Alabama Court of the Judiciary is scheduled to consider a request by judicial investigators to convict Moore of violating canons of conduct without a trial. That could result in Moore’s immediate removal from office.

Moore opposes the request and instead wants the case thrown out, so lawyers will present arguments during a hearing in the very chamber where Moore presided as chief justice. The court has said Moore’s trial will begin Sept. 28 if the case continues.

Moore, a Republican, is suspended because the Judicial Inquiry Commission filed charges accusing him of violating judicial ethics with an order to state probate judges about same-sex marriage.

Supporters and opponents of the suspended judge plan noontime rallies outside the Supreme Court building before the hearing.

Moore is a conservative Christian who opposes gay unions, but he denies any wrongdoing in office. Moore contends investigators overstepped their powers by citing him for issuing the administrative order, which came after the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized gay marriage nationwide.

Separately, a federal judge last week refused Moore’s lawsuit to overturn his suspension. Moore sued the Judicial Inquiry Commission claiming the suspension violated his rights, but U.S. District Judge Harold Albritton ruled that he could not interfere in the state proceeding.

The ethics complaint against Moore resulted from a document he sent to probate judges statewide in January saying an Alabama Supreme Court prohibition against same-sex marriage remained in effect despite a federal judge’s order to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision about six months earlier.

Moore argues he was only trying to clear up confusion about the probate judges, many of whom are not lawyers, and he has denied ordering them to violate the high court order.

Moore is again fighting to keep his job 13 years after the Court of the Judiciary removed him as chief justice for his refusal to follow a federal court order mandating the removal of a Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the state judicial building. Voters re-elected Moore in 2012.

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