In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Moore, however, arguing that the High Court case applied only to the states directly involved in the case, ordered lower-level judges to follow Alabama law, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
In January, Moore issued an order clarifying, "Marriage is inherently a unique relationship between a man and a woman." He further mandated:
IT IS ORDERED AND DIRECTED THAT: Until further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court, the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court that 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 remain in full force and effect.In response, the Alabama Judicial Inquiry filed a complaint against him, saying he violated judicial ethics by refusing to implement federal law.
The Court of the Judiciary put Moore on trial, and ultimately found Moore guilty of six charges and suspended him for the remainder of his term.
The charges include failing to comply with the law, failure to uphold the integrity of the court and failure to perform his office duties impartially.
Ashby Pate, an attorney with the Judicial Inquiry Commission, commented, "He urged defiance, not compliance, for defying a decision already settled by the U.S. Supreme Court."
Moore's attorney Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, a legal group that has fought against same-sex marriage, said, "To suspend Chief Justice Moore for the rest of his term is the same as removal."
Alabama bars anyone 70 or older to run for a judgeship, and Moore's term doesn't end until 2019, when he will be too old to run again.
Staver also said that he was going to appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court, arguing that their order is illegal.
Moore commented on his removal, "This was a politically motivated effort by radical homosexual and transgender groups to remove me as chief justice of the Supreme Court because of outspoken opposition to their immoral agenda."
Moore also says about the leftist non-profit Southern Poverty Law Center, "They're the ones who hired the prosecutor, they're the ones that brought the case for the second time, they don't want anybody opposing the agenda of the homosexual movement."
The decision Friday was the second time Moore was suspended from the bench for his defiance.
The first time was in 2003 when he refused to remove a Ten Commandments monument he commissioned from courthouse grounds.
He stated at the time that the Ten Commandments are the "moral foundation" of American law and remind us that "we must first recognize the source from which all morality springs ... [by] recogniz[ing] the sovereignty of God."