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Alabama's Chief Justice was suspended for telling judges not to recognize gay marriages


Alabama's Chief Justice was suspended, even though his term isn't up until January 2019.

 'Ministerial duty'

Alabama's Judicial Inquiry Commission determined that Moore directed probate judges to defy the U.S. Supreme Court by not issuing same-sex marriage licenses. 

In a Jan. 6, 2016, order to probate judges, Moore wrote:

"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," which recognized marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Moore's order came after the U.S. Supreme Court ordered marriage equality June 2015. 

'Rule of the law doesn't matter'

Judge John Carroll with the Judicial Inquiry Commission said Moore refused to accept the supremacy of the federal courts. Carroll asked that Moore be removed from office, which would have required a unanimous vote from the Court of the Judiciary.

"He's fostered in the minds of the public that the rule of the law doesn't matter, that judges are free to defy the Supreme Court and the orders of the lower federal court if they believe it's appropriate," he said.

Remember the Ten Commandments?

Moore called his 2016 order a "status update," not guidance to judges in the state. 

Moore had previously been removed from the bench in 2003 when he refused to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments in defiance of federal courts.

He had since been re-elected to the Alabama state supreme court. 

The Court provided a lengthy explanation for why they were suspending Moore.

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