Judges selected for suspended anti-gay justice Roy Moore’s appeal

Judges selected for suspended anti-gay justice Roy Moore’s appeal

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was suspended from the bench over his actions regarding gay marriage, walked out of the state courthouse Thursday after failing to stop the lottery to pick the judges who will hear his appeal to return to the bench.

The names of 50 retired judges were picked from a box during a public proceeding as potential members of the special Supreme Court for Moore’s appeal. The first seven willing judges will hear the case, under a procedure set out by the court in a 5-3 decision.

Moore and his attorney asked to delay the selection, but were told there was no court in place to hear the motion since all current justices recused themselves and a replacement court has not yet been named. The selection of the replacement pool began as Moore left the courtroom.

Moore told reporters outside the Alabama Judicial Building that he believed sitting judges — not retired ones — should hear his appeal, arguing retired judges have no accountability to the public. He also said some sitting justices should have recused themselves from establishing the replacement process because of actions they’ve already taken in his case.

“This is a charade,” Moore told reporters, adding that he believed it was a “political prosecution.”

The process for selecting a replacement court was the same one used when Moore was removed from the bench in 2003 for refusing to obey a federal court order to remove a boulder-sized Ten Commandments monument from the state appellate courthouse.

The list of 50 judges includes some notable names such as former Supreme Court Justice Ralph Cook and former Civil Appeals Judge Sharon Yates.

A judicial panel last month suspended Moore for the remainder of his term after finding he urged state probate judges to defy the federal courts on gay marriage. The charges stemmed from Moore’s January order telling probate judges that a state order to refuse marriage licenses to gay couples remained in “full force and effect.” Moore’s writing came six months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled gays and lesbians have a fundamental right to marry.

The suspension effectively removes Moore from the bench, since he will beyond the 70-year age limit for judicial candidates when his term ends.

Moore and his attorneys have objected to the lengthy suspension, calling it a way to remove him even though the Court of the Judiciary lacked the unanimous agreement required to do so

“It’s a de facto removal,” Moore said.

Acting Chief Justice Lyn Stuart earlier this month directed Moore to remove his personal items from his courthouse office. Moore declined to do so. His attorney said the directive was premature as he appeals his suspension.

Asked Thursday if his personal items were still in his courthouse office, Moore replied, “I hope so.”

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