Alabama chief justice suspended without pay for stopping same-sex marriage licenses

Roy Moore was found guilty on six charges of violating judicial ethics

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The Independent US

The chief justice of Alabama has been suspended after he discouraged state judges from issuing same-sex marriage licences in opposition to federal law.

Roy Moore violated judicial ethics, as reported by the Associated Press, and has been suspended without pay for the rest of his term without the approval of his nine-member Alabama Court of the Judiciary.

Despite the government ruling in favour of same-sex marriage in all 50 states in 2015, Mr Moore sent an administrative to order to Alabama’s 68 probate judges the following January, claiming the state law remained in "full force and effect".

He denied that his actions were a defiance of federal law, and claimed his personal beliefs did not come into it.

The 69-year-old was first removed from his job in 2003 after he refused to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building. He was re-elected to the position after he lost out in the race for governor.

By the end of this term in 2019, he will be beyond the age limit of 70 for judges. Voters could raise the age limit in November, however.

"We are here 13 years later because the chief justice learned nothing from his first removal. He continues to defy the law, he continues to disdain and defy the federal courts," John Carroll, a lawyer representing the commission, said in court. 

"He refuses to accept the rule of law without repentance or without remorse."

Mr Moore called the ethics charges "ridiculous".

Governor Robert Bentley, who is being investigated whether he should be impeached over a scandal involving a top aide, will name a replacement for Mr Moore.

Alabama banned same-sex marriage in 2006 but the law was overturned on a national level last year.

The final judgement against Mr Moore ruled that the case was not "to review or editorialise" laws from the US Supreme Court.