Judge dismisses suit by suspended chief justice

Published 10:24 pm Thursday, August 4, 2016

By Jay Reeves | The Associated Press

MONTGOMERY (AP) — A federal judge has refused to overturn the suspension of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, ruling Thursday that doing so would improperly interfere with the state judicial proceeding that could result in Moore’s ouster for an order he issued about same-sex marriage.

U.S. District Judge Harold Albritton threw out Moore’s lawsuit against the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission with a brief order and an accompanying opinion that said the state judicial ethics case against the conservative Republican should move ahead without federal interference.

The commission filed charges against Moore with the Alabama Court of the Judiciary, which has the power under state law to consider administrative cases brought against judges. Moore claimed his resulting automatic suspension with pay was a violation of his rights, but the judge said the case did not fit the circumstances required for federal action.

“The Supreme Court of the United States has long recognized the importance of federal courts not interfering with ongoing state court proceedings, except under very limited circumstances,” Albritton wrote.

Mat Staver, an attorney for Moore, said no decision had been made on an appeal.

“Alabama’s automatic removal provision goes against the assumption in law that a person is innocent until proven otherwise,” Staver said in a statement. “This provision should be struck down.

The Judicial Inquiry Commission had no immediate comment.

The commission accused Moore, a conservative Christian who opposes gay marriage, of violating judicial ethics by sending an administrative order to Alabama’s probate judges saying that state laws banning gay marriage remained in effect despite a U.S. Supreme Court decision six months earlier that effectively legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

Moore sued the commission in May asking the federal judge to let him resume work as chief justice.