*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
Most Americans have an expectation that the men and women tasked with adjudicating the nation’s laws will, at the absolute minimum, uphold the laws according to how they are written. That certainly includes upholding the U.S. Constitution according to their sworn duty and precludes ever basing any decision or judgment solely on their personal religious beliefs. Unfortunately, and although a rarity until the past few years, there is a state Supreme Court’s Chief Justice that refuses to follow the law of the land and instead hews closely to a bizarre couple of verses in the Hebrew Scriptures of the Christian bible.
For the second time in 13 years, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary, a nine-person assembly of judges, lawyers and others issued a ruling based on state law and suspended Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore for “violating the state’s canon of judicial ethics.” Judge Moore violated the state’s judicial ethics by ordering Alabama probate judges to violate federal court orders, and the U.S. Constitution, because those orders and the Constitution are not in compliance with Roy Moore’s interpretation of the Christian bible’s Old Testament.
The decision to suspend Moore came nine months after his unconstitutional order to nullify a Supreme Court ruling, and the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, because it afforded same-sex couples equal rights with heterosexuals; something Moore refused to accept. This is Moore’s second suspension and unlike the previous dismissal, this one is permanent because it lasts for the remainder of his term that ends in 2019 when Moore will be too old to serve on the bench according to Alabama state law.
The Court of the Judiciary could have removed, instead of suspending, Moore, but it required a unanimous decision to fully remove the judge. The court said most of the nine-member panel supported removing Moore, and although the decision to suspend him was unanimous, due to Moore’s age the suspension is effectively a complete removal and it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving bigot.
Alabama’s Judicial Court ruled that “the clear purpose of Judge Moore’s January order to 68 probate judges to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples…was to order and direct the probate judges…to stop complying with [legally] binding federal law.” Moore didn’t see it that way and regarded his order to the probate judges to violate the Constitution was just “a status update on the legal situation.” The “legal situation” was really a significant and legally-binding Supreme Court ruling founded on the Constitution that ended any discussion of whether same-sex couples were worthy of the same equal rights opposite-sex couples enjoy.
The suspended Judge Moore, playing the Christian martyr, called the decision a corrupt plot to punish him for being a god-fearing moral man and nothing about upholding the laws of the land. He said, “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.”
The bigoted judge’s lawyer and founder of a Christian legal group fighting to impose the bible as the law of the land, said the Court of the Judiciary’s decision was illegal; like the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage and the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal rights to all Americans. Liberty Counsel’s Mathew D. Staver said that like in 2003 when Moore last appealed his removal, and lost his job over refusing to abide by the U.S. Constitution and another federal court order, this ruling will be up for appeal. If nothing else, Roy Moore will not get a third attempt at imposing his personal religious-belief as the law of the land.
The reaction from the president of the Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center, Richard Cohen, who initially filed the judicial ethics complaint that led to Judge Moore’s trial, was pleased with the ruling. Mr. Cohen celebrated the judge’s suspension without pay as just as good as complete removal from the bench for all practical purposes. “The bottom line is he can’t exercise any judicial authority or power,” Mr. Cohen said.
Although this may seem like the book is closed on Judge Moore’s insistence that the Christian bible, and not the U.S. Constitution is the law of the land, it is not likely he will go away quietly. But it does appear that he will only be an irritant from afar because without any power or authority whatsoever, any irritation will be just more claims of Christians being persecuted for not abiding by the law of the land, something the Christian bible makes very clear is a violation of god’s law.