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Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) files ethics complaint against Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

Yesterday Roy Moore, the chief justice of Alabama’s supreme court, wrote a letter to Governor Robert Bentley suggesting that he defy the federal courts on the issue of same-sex marriage. He said marriage equality will bring “destruction” and “desecrat[ion]” to the institution of marriage. His letter also noted that he, as the state’s chief justice, will “continue to recognize the Alabama Constitution,” including the marriage amendments.

Today, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has filed an ethics complaint against Moore for various offenses:

The SPLC complaint describes how Moore has committed numerous ethics violations, noting that he is encouraging lawlessness by attempting to assemble a virtual army of state officials and judges to oppose the federal judiciary and its “tyranny” – the opposite of what is expected from the state’s chief judge.

The SPLC complaint also outlines other violations by Moore, including publicly commenting on a pending case – the federal case that overturned the ban – as well as impending cases: the same-sex marriage cases likely to come before state judges, including Moore, if same-sex marriage is legalized in Alabama.

“We have gone down this road before during the civil rights movement,” Cohen said. “The chief justice is trotting out the same tired – and disproven – states’ rights arguments that were used to disenfranchise African Americans. Even if Moore isn’t a student of history, you would think he would be a student of his own history. The opinion that removed him from the bench in disgrace more than a decade ago clearly explained why he can’t ignore the federal courts.”

The complaint requests that “this Judicial Inquiry Commission investigate the allegations in this complaint and recommend that Chief Justice Moore face charges in the Court of the Judiciary.”

Thanks to Equality Case Files for Moore’s letter


  • 1. F_Young  |  January 28, 2015 at 10:46 am

    "Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) files ethics complaint against Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore"


  • 2. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  January 28, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    The complaint accuses Moore of violating these Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics.

    — Improper public comment on pending and impending proceedings.

    — Lack of faithfulness to the law and failure of professional competence.

    — Disrespect for the dignity of the judiciary and undermining public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.

  • 3. VIRick  |  January 28, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    He should be immediately booted off the court, just on the first infraction alone. Judges are NEVER permitted to issue any sort of public comment whatsoever regarding any pending case or cases still before the court, let alone any case which might be impending in the court. He clearly violated both canons.

    He must have slept right through judge school.

    He needs to be slapped down and slapped down hard, as he's grandstanding for the low-information trailer-trash, given that he wants to run for governor again. As a result, he's attempting to score points with the ultra right-wing bigots, and other flotsam and jetsom, by playing his phony "states' rights" hand in order to make the current governor, Bentley, look like a flaming-liberal wuss.

  • 4. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  January 28, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    Agreed, wholeheartedly!

  • 5. 1grod  |  January 29, 2015 at 8:13 am

    In the Searcy v. Strange reply to the States request for the 11 Circuit Appeals Court to overturn/stay Judge Callie V.S.Granade January 23, 2015 ruling and in their reply to the State's request to overturn/stay Judge Granade's January 26 ruling in Strawser v Strange, can State SC Chief Justice Moore's letter to Governor Bentley [and his media statements and interviews where advice is given to state Probate Judges] be references/appended? Sixth Circuit Justices Sutton and Cook ought to receive a copy of letter etc mentioning that animus can even be found within the judiciary. G

  • 6. RnL2008  |  January 28, 2015 at 11:30 am

    That man is toxic and should be tossed off the bench AGAIN…….he's obviously UNABLE to uphold the Constitution and holds ANIMUS towards just about everyone whose NOT white, fundie and rich!!!

  • 7. Jaesun100  |  January 28, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    I Agree , 110%.

    He was only voted back in because Alabama has that one click vote by party……

  • 8. hopalongcassidy  |  January 28, 2015 at 11:40 am

    Good, but I'm not holding my breath…

  • 9. guitaristbl  |  January 28, 2015 at 11:50 am

    About time. This christian taliban is completely out of control. He can't keep his animus out of the public view by not only commenting on a crucial pending case in federal court, not showing respect for the work of the federal judiciary, but also openly claiming he won't follow the law in state court. What an utter disgrace for the alabama judiciary, especially since this man is a chief justice elected after he has already been removed from bench once.

    Not that I expect much.Even if he is removed, he will be elected again by alabamians, who think the law of this land is their bible. Can he be removed forever ? If you can't teach alabamians the constitution, force it on them as it has always been the case.

    P.S. Just read his letter. All LGBT citizens of Alabama should join this complaint from SPLC, they are literally defenseless to the whims of this lunatic in the state judiciary..

  • 10. RobW303  |  January 28, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    Yet no cries of "activist judge" from them?

  • 11. JayJonson  |  January 28, 2015 at 11:56 am

    A Chief Justice of a state supreme court behaving the way Moore behaves is intolerable. He is guilty of numerous ethics violations and should be (once again) removed from his office. He is unfit to serve.

  • 12. RobW303  |  January 28, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    Two words: Scalia, Thomas.

  • 13. weaverbear  |  January 28, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    Third word: Alito

  • 14. VIRick  |  January 28, 2015 at 6:11 pm

    Moore is "Exhibit A" as to why state judges, at any level, should not be elected.

  • 15. jcmeiners  |  January 28, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    What are the remedies if, let's say, the Alabama Supreme Court decides that the state constitution trumps the US constitution? Can only clerks who follow that ruling instead of a federal court order be held in contempt, or are there mechanisms to force a state court into compliance?

  • 16. wes228  |  January 28, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    The U.S. Marshals can be called in to enforce a federal court order. If there is a conflicting federal and state court order, you are obligated to follow the federal court order.

  • 17. VIRick  |  January 28, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    Precisely so. Here's an article from the 1962 "Ole Miss" integration riot when mobs in Oxford MS, incited to a frenzy by the governor and the KKK, decided to block the enforcement of a federal court order. Two people were killed, hundreds were wounded, and hundreds more were taken into custody during the melee. My great-aunt, whose residence was directly across the street from the main entrance to the campus, rescued any number of people, and got them out of harm's way while the KKK and a gang of students ran amok, by hiding them in her house, including several wounded US Marshalls.

  • 18. RemC_Chicago  |  January 29, 2015 at 5:26 am

    Wow. Quite the story. Bravo to her.

  • 19. Sagesse  |  January 28, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Props to SPLC… whether their complaint succeeds or not. The situation pretty much makes the point about elected judges, all by itself.

    I must say this whole Alabama debate has educated me on the history of civil rights in the state. I was only dimly aware that they ignored federal law and federal courts at the time of the civil rights act as well. I know they were dragged kicking and screaming into it, but not that they openly defied the law that they refused to acknowledge applied to them. (I also just finished a novel that was set in that time period.)

  • 20. guitaristbl  |  January 28, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    In order to lighten up the atmosphere a bit :

    "A gay couple have bought the domain, and have said they will not give it up, as they intend to use it to launch a site to inform the public about issues faced by LGBT people."

    Immense amount of trolling, I love it !

  • 21. hopalongcassidy  |  January 28, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    If I thought they'd let me, I'd buy and register

  • 22. VIRick  |  January 28, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    Hop, go for it!! At the very worst, they can only say, "No."

  • 23. LK2013  |  January 28, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    Good for the Southern Poverty Law Center. This man is a disgrace, and he is literally undermining the US Constitution and the rule of law.

    He needs to GO!

    The only good thing about these scumbags speaking out so freely is the spewing of animus is clearly out there for all to see.

  • 24. RobW303  |  January 28, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    They were spewing when all these laws were passed. The courts still largely denied any proving of animus. Plus ça change….

  • 25. Mike_Baltimore  |  January 28, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    Now if we can get a court, any court, to recognize that what the bigots are spewing is animus, not just words.

  • 26. bayareajohn  |  January 28, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    The bigots cannot comprehend "animus". They insist it is not animus to recognize criminal or perverted behavior and "call it as they see it". It's so simple. To them, it's like calling a color GREEN because it is. They say there's no animus in calling dangerous pedophile perverts exactly that, it's just being descriptive. The same way there's no animus in calling blacks the N word. Just describing. What's the problem?

  • 27. hopalongcassidy  |  January 28, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    I can not understand what you are trying to say here. It doesn't seem to make any logical or grammatical sense. What "criminal or perverted behavior" needs recognizing?

  • 28. bayareajohn  |  January 28, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    Now I'm wondering if you are being sarcastic too. I though my post was clearly stating the bigot's skewed internal viewpoint of his own behavior, and why it's perfectly fine, and why they can't understand ANUMUS. I am just as clearly not defending it or sharing the opinion.

  • 29. bayareajohn  |  January 28, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    I said and you quoted, "THEY INSIST" and "THEY CALL IT AS THEY SEE IT". And they clearly and obviously see gays as perverted and criminal (they "know" we are pedophiles…).

    If this isn't clear to you, let it go.

  • 30. VIRick  |  January 28, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    Hop, John can't fix it when you've already replied to him.

    Recognize the internalized mind-set he's trying to describe. Try this:

    "They insist it is not animus (when in their own minds, to them) they recognize criminal or perverted behavior and "call it as they see it."

    And John, many gay men don't like to be reminded that others, like the kind you're trying to describe, will glibly call us "criminals" and/or "perverts," and expect that we're just supposed to "like" it.

  • 31. F_Young  |  January 28, 2015 at 3:11 pm

    Top Catholics, evangelicals: Gay marriage worse than divorce or cohabitation

    "Signers of the statement include popular megachurch pastor Rick Warren and longtime gay marriage foe Maggie Gallagher, as well as prominent conservative Catholic intellectuals George Weigel and Robert George.

    "Timothy George, a Southern Baptist and dean of Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School; Mark Galli, editor of the evangelical magazine Christianity Today; and J.I. Packer of Regent University also endorsed the statement."

  • 32. Sagesse  |  January 28, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    The Manhattan Declaration, v 2.0.

    In a rare exception to the rule… read the comments. I particularly like this one:

    "One weird feature of this whole debate has been that one side is talking about real people and the things that will make their lives secure, fulfilling, etc. The one (sic) side spends all its time acting as if it were in a college debating society, where abstract concepts and the definitions of words were all that was important. This isn't a discussion about the virtues of the Oxford comma."

  • 33. Sagesse  |  January 28, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    Two excellent articles at Justia Verdict on the 6th Circuit cases at SCOTUS.

    The Final Showdown: The Supreme Court Agrees to Decide Whether Bans on Marriages by Same-Sex Couples are Unconstitutional

    The Question Is How, Not Whether, the Supreme Court Will Find a Right to Same-Sex Marriage

  • 34. Jaesun100  |  January 28, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    Off Topic, but any thoughts on if Loretta Lynch will be a staunch supporter of ME & GLBT rights as AG Holder has ?

    "During Loretta Lynch's confirmation hearing Wednesday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tried to take the attorney general nominee down the slippery-slope argument often made against the marriage equality movement by inquiring what the legal difference is between marriage of same-sex couples and that of three or more people.

    "'What is the legal difference between a state — a ban on same-sex marriage being unconstitutional but a ban on polygamy being constitutional?" he inquired at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. "Could you try to articulate how one could be banned under the Constitution and the other not?"

    Lynch, who is the current U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, didn't take the bait. She cited her inexperience in dealing with cases of precedent on the matter, and promised to "look forward to continuing the discussions with you."

  • 35. Christian0811  |  January 28, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    Meh a weak answer :/

  • 36. JayJonson  |  January 29, 2015 at 6:19 am

    She is no Eric Holder. We have been so fortunate to have Holder as Attorney General. I hope the heads of the divisions within the Justice Department, including the Civil Rights division, are likely to stay in place. IIRC, the third highest ranking official in the Justice Department is an openly gay man. I hope that he will give Attorney General Lynch good advice. And, of course, the President will make sure that the Justice Department is steadfast in its support of marriage equality and other gay issues.

  • 37. brandall  |  January 28, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    Rachel Maddow reporting Bryan Fischer of American Family Association has been FIRED!

    In honor of this special occasion, please click link….

    And….Brian Brown of NOM must be the next to go!

  • 38. Jaesun100  |  January 28, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    That is a mess, just watched the clip ….

  • 39. Sagesse  |  January 28, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    Tony Perkins interviews Judge Roy Moore. The interview is the first 20 minutes or so. At one point Judge Moore says that Alabama does not need to obey the ruling of a federal district court judge because… wait for it… Bowers v Hardwick.

    Listen Live Now: Alabama Anti-Gay Chief Justice Roy Moore Talks With Tony Perkins [New Civil Rights Movement]

  • 40. sfbob  |  January 28, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    Bowers vs Hardwick wasn't decided by "activist judges." Lawrence vs Texas was. Or something.

  • 41. VIRick  |  January 28, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    I think Judge Roy Moore has an anal fixation.

  • 42. Sagesse  |  January 29, 2015 at 4:12 am

    This from the LA Times suggests that the Mormon Church statement this week is linked to the California court prohibition on judges serving as Boy Scout leaders. Evidently, the LDS Church lobbied hard against the change.

    Mormon Church's shift on gay rights follows series of defeats in California [LA Times]

  • 43. montezuma58  |  January 29, 2015 at 4:48 am

    Is this from the twilight zone?

  • 44. RemC_Chicago  |  January 29, 2015 at 5:19 am

    Inspired to make a donation to SPLC. In gratitude.

  • 45. F_Young  |  January 29, 2015 at 6:22 am

    It does get better for LGBT and questioning youth

    "In a multi-year study of LGBTQ youth, researchers found that being the victim of bullying and other abuse was linked to psychological distress, but both distress and victimization decreased as the adolescents grew up."

    The article includes this ambiguous statement: "Males, some racial and ethnic minorities and transgender individuals reported greater victimization." Does it mean that those groups had more victimization than the other groups had, or that their victimization increased with time?

  • 46. Elihu_Bystander  |  January 29, 2015 at 9:09 am

    "Males, some racial and ethnic minorities and transgender individuals reported greater victimization." Does it mean that those groups had more victimization than the other groups had, or that their victimization increased with time?

    In order to answer your question, one would have to read the original publication and not a news article about the study.

  • 47. F_Young  |  January 29, 2015 at 9:39 am

    Elihu_Bystander: "In order to answer your question, one would have to read the original publication and not a news article about the study."

    This is a link to an abstract of the original research publication, but the full-text of the publication is behind a paywall:

  • 48. JayJonson  |  January 29, 2015 at 6:23 am

    Just came across this article from that reveals that Cari Stearcy, one of the plaintiffs in Searcy v. Strange, produced radio and video ads for Roy Moore when he ran for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.

    I would be lying if I did not find this news disappointing. The woman should have a greater sense of conscience than helping someone like Moore attain high office. But maybe in Alabama one politician is just as bad as the other. Still, my estimation of her has dipped greatly.

  • 49. Zack12  |  January 29, 2015 at 6:25 am

    What on earth was she thinking?!

  • 50. brandall  |  January 29, 2015 at 7:01 am

    I'm on my way out to work, but the Searcy name has historical history in Alabama. Other EoT'ers may be able to shed some light on this.

  • 51. DeadHead  |  January 29, 2015 at 7:09 am

    She was thinking only about herself just like Ken Mehlman and others of their kind who have no conscience until it affects them and/or when someone discovers they worked with these bigots.

  • 52. JayJonson  |  January 29, 2015 at 6:27 am

    From the article: "Knowing Moore's stand on homosexuality, Searcy said she was apprehensive to work with him.

    "I didn't even think that he would want to work with me," Searcy said. "I struggled whether even to take the job."

    I think she should have struggled more. By accepting the job, she became an accomplice in his election bid.

    Hate to say this, but she is probably a Republican. When they support gay rights, it is usually only because it affects them personally.

  • 53. guitaristbl  |  January 29, 2015 at 8:57 am

    I don't believe we should criticze Ms. Searcy for working (her company that is) with Moore for his re election honestly. If anything, this hurts Moore more in the public eye than her. She knew his beliefs and did not discriminate against him, while Moore, a public official with a highly influential position, cannot keep his beliefs away from his job. She is the bigger person here imo. I am not happy with Moore's reelection of course but this is a beneficial stunt for Searcy imo and one that further undermines Moore's already difficult position.

  • 54. JayJonson  |  January 29, 2015 at 9:08 am

    Sorry, she was under no obligation to accept his business. She made a decision to help elect a bigot.

    She had every right to make the decision she made, but that does not make it a good one, nor does it exempt her from criticism.

    Would you be as sympathetic to her if she had worked with Frank Schaefer on the advertisements in favor of Prop 8?

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