Lawmakers in Alabama are proposing changes to state rules regarding their Judicial Inquiry Commission to rein in what they regard as politically motivated charges against state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.
In a complaint filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the JIC alleges Moore ordered the state’s probate judges to disobey federal law when he told them not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples until an apparent conflict with state and federal law is resolved. The JIC’s findings resulted in Moore’s suspension from the bench May 6.
Critics point out the JIC, which was prosecuting the complaint on behalf of SPLC, hired a former SPLC employee to pursue the case against Moore.
Additionally, the state rules allow for Moore to be suspended from his office on the basis of a complaint only.
According to Liberty Counsel, which is defending Moore, the Alabama Republican State Executive Committee has approved two resolutions requesting changes in the state’s process for punishing judges and for requirements regarding members of the Judicial Inquiry Commission.
“In light of the baseless charges filed against Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore by the JIC regarding his administrative order issued in January 2016, Alabama’s Republican Party’s executive committee asks that the state legislature enact a law to abolish the rule that judges are automatically suspended when charges are filed by the JIC. The resolution also calls for the election of all nine of the JIC members,” the legal defense team explained.
Moore now faces a trial on Sept. 28 on “six politically motivated charges,” all related to his January 2016 administrative order.
“The current situation allows the JIC too much power and the ability to punish judges without due process,” said Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel. “Chief Justice Roy Moore should have never been suspended from his bench from these baseless charges. The JIC has become an arm of the Southern Poverty Law Center and other politically-motivated groups. The JIC is not supposed to be politically biased but it has become so. The JIC needs to be reined in.”
Last month, Alabama’s Court of the Judiciary rejected Moore’s motion to dismiss the case, but it also denied the state Judicial Inquiry Commission’s request to remove Moore from the bench.
Moore has explained that he had tried several times for more than six months following the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell case to get the state’s high court to rule on a same-sex marriage case, and he wanted the judges to know the case remained under deliberation.
“While the JIC contends that my motivation to issue the administrative order was to defy the federal courts, the following excerpts from my memoranda to the court … indicate that I strongly encouraged my colleagues to dispel the existing concern and uncertainty by promptly addressing the question,” Moore previously told the court.
He noted that on Sept. 2, 2015, he urged his fellow judges to “make a decision in this case.”
He told his fellow judges “one way or the other: to acquiesce in Obergefell and retreat from our March orders or reject Obergefell and maintain our orders in place.”
“Any decision is better than no decision at all,” he wrote. “The uncertainty facing the probate judges [those who issue marriage licenses in the state] is enormous. … They need guidance from us on this court’s view.”
A month later, he repeated his plea.
The charges against Moore are part of a larger offensive by the non-profit Southern Poverty Law Center and JIC against conservative justices in Alabama, critics contend.
WND reported in June that Justice Tom Parker sued in federal court because SPLC filed a complaint with the JIC in an attempt to restrict his speech.
Moore also sued in federal court and while his claim initially was rejected, it could be revived in an appeals court.
Parker’s complaint contends SPLC, which was linked in a federal court case to domestic terrorism and smeared GOP presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson by putting him on a list of “haters,” is working with the JIC to injure conservatives.
SPLC and the JIC are attempting “to intimidate, silence, and punish Justice Parker for his originalist judicial philosophy and protected speech,” Parker’s case claims.
“Justice Parker has a constitutional right to speak out on the case so long as he is not presently presiding over it. We know have seen a disturbing pattern of the JIC doing the bidding of the Southern Poverty Law Center and filing politically motivated charges against Alabama Supreme Court justices in order to remove them from the bench. It is time to put a stop to this free speech violation and the automatic removal provision,” said Staver.
JIC went so far as to hire a former worker for SPLC to build its case against Moore, the agency’s critics note.
Staver told WND the panel only had to look at Moore’s order, which is the subject of the complaint. He specifically stated he could not offer the probate judges advice or counsel on the issue of same-sex marriage because the state court had yet to rule on several procedural developments in a state case that was filed prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.
“You just have to look at one four-page document,” Staver said. “Ask yourself … did the chief justice advocate open defiance? No, he said he was not able to give them guidance.”
A recent poll also put Moore as the favorite among Republicans in Alabama’s 2018 race for governor.
According to a Yellowhammer News report, Moore has huge support among Alabama Republicans.
“The Alabama Forestry Association, one of the state’s most influential conservative groups, commissioned a survey of 600 likely Republican primary voters and found that Moore’s sky-high name recognition makes him the GOP’s current top choice for governor in 2018 in what promises to be a crowded field,” the report said.
The report said 28 percent picked Moore, 24 percent were undecided, Attorney General Luther Strange got 9 percent and another handful each drew support in the single digits.
The report said Moore was viewed favorably by 58 percent of the respondents, unfavorably by 29 percent and 11 percent had no opinion.
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2016/09/change-law-say-gop-members-on-marriage-case-fight/#pvZvlUzzuOSU7U0T.99