Roy Moore

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Roy Moore
Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court
Assumed office
January 15, 2013
Suspended since May 6, 2016
Preceded by Chuck Malone
Succeeded by Lyn Stuart (Acting)
In office
January 15, 2001 – November 13, 2003
Preceded by Perry O. Hooper, Sr.
Succeeded by J. Gorman Houston, Jr.
Circuit Judge of the Sixteenth Alabama Circuit
In office
Appointed by H. Guy Hunt
Succeeded by William Millican
Preceded by Julius Swann
Personal details
Born Roy Stewart Moore
(1947-02-11) February 11, 1947 (age 69)
Gadsden, Alabama, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Kayla Kisor
Children Ory
Alma mater United States Military Academy
University of Alabama
Religion Baptist
Website Official website

Roy Stewart Moore (born February 11, 1947) is an American judge and Republican politician. Moore was elected to the position of Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2001, but removed from his position on November 13, 2003 by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary for refusing to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments commissioned by him from the Alabama Judicial Building despite orders to do so by a federal court. Moore was again elected to be Chief Justice in 2013, but was suspended in May 2016 for directing probate judges to enforce the state's unconstitutional ban on same-sex marriage. On September 30, 2016, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary finalized its decision and suspended Moore without pay for the rest of his term running through January 2019.

In the years preceding his first election to the state Supreme Court, Moore successfully resisted attempts to have a display of the Ten Commandments removed from the courtroom. The controversy around Moore generated national attention. Moore's supporters regard his stand as a defense of "judicial rights" and the Constitution of Alabama. Moore contended that federal judges who ruled against his actions consider "obedience of a court order superior to all other concerns, even the suppression of belief in the sovereignty of God."[1]

Moore sought the Republican nomination for the governorship of Alabama in 2006, but lost to incumbent Bob Riley in the June primary by a nearly 2-to-1 margin. On June 1, 2009 he announced his campaign for the 2010 election for governor.[2] Moore placed fourth in the Republican primary held on June 1, 2010, having received only 19 percent of the vote.

On April 18, 2011, Moore announced that he was forming an exploratory committee to run in the Republican presidential primaries in 2012.[3][4] When that campaign failed to gain traction, he began to draw speculation in the media as being a potential Constitution Party presidential contender.[5][6] In November 2011, Moore withdrew his exploratory committee and ended all speculation of a presidential candidacy when he instead announced that he would in 2012 seek his former post of Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.[7] On November 6, 2012, Moore won election back to the office of Alabama Chief Justice, defeating replacement Democratic candidate Bob Vance.[8][9]

On May 6, 2016, Moore was suspended from the bench and awaited a hearing and trial by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary for multiple ethics code violations, including abuse of authority and interference with federal-level court rulings and injunctions related to same-sex marriage.[10] Following the completion of the investigation and a unanimous vote by the Court of the Judiciary, Moore was suspended without pay for the remainder of his term on September 30, 2016. Moore was found guilty of all six charges against him of violation of the canons of judicial ethics.[11][12]

Early life[edit]

Education and military service[edit]

Moore was born in Gadsden, the seat of Etowah County, to Roy Baxter Moore (died 1967) and the former Evelyn Stewart. The couple had met and married after his discharge from the United States Army during World War II. Roy was the oldest of five children, three boys and two girls, born to the couple. Moore describes his father, a construction worker, as "a hardworking man who earned barely enough to make ends meet, but he taught me more than money could ever buy. From him I learned about honesty, integrity, perseverance, and never to be ashamed of who you are or what you believe in. Early on my dad shared with me the truth about God's love and the sacrifice of His own Son, Jesus." Moore described his mother as a "homemaker who was always there to help me with my schoolwork, to care for me when I was sick, and to encourage me to do the best I could."[1]

In 1954, the Moores relocated to Houston, Texas, site of a postwar building boom. After some four years, they returned to Alabama, then moved to Pennsylvania, and returned permanently to Alabama. In his later years, the senior Moore worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority building dams and later the Anniston Army Depot. Moore attended school his freshman year at Gallant near Gadsden but transferred to Etowah County High School for his final three years of public education, graduating in 1965.[1]

On the recommendation of outgoing Democratic U.S. Representative Albert Rains, after confirmation by incoming Republican Representative James D. Martin of Gadsden, Moore was admitted to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, where he graduated in 1969 with a Bachelor of Science degree. With the Vietnam War underway, Moore first served in several posts as a military police officer, including Fort Benning, Georgia, and Illesheim, Germany before being sent to South Vietnam. Serving as company commander of his MP unit, Moore was known to be very strict. Some of the soldiers gave him the derogatory nickname, "Captain America," because of his attitude toward discipline. His role earned him several enemies, and in his autobiography he recalls sleeping on sandbags to avoid a grenade or bomb being tossed under his cot, as many had threatened fragging the commander.

Moore left the United States Army as a captain in 1974, and was admitted to the University of Alabama School of Law that same year. He graduated in 1977 with a Juris Doctor degree and returned to Gadsden to begin private practice with a focus on personal injury and insurance cases.

Elections and travels[edit]

Moore soon moved to the district attorney's office, working as the first full-time prosecutor in Etowah County. During his tenure there, Moore was investigated by the state bar for "suspect conduct" after convening a grand jury to discuss what he perceived to have been funding shortages in the sheriff's office. Several weeks after the state bar investigation was dismissed as unfounded, Moore quit his prosecuting position to run as a Democrat for the county's circuit-court judge seat in 1982. The election was bitter, with Moore alleging that cases were being delayed in exchange for payoffs. The allegations were never substantiated, and Moore overwhelmingly lost the Democratic runoff primary to fellow attorney Donald Stewart, whom Moore described as "an honorable man for whom I have much respect, and he eventually became a close friend."[1] A second bar complaint against Moore followed, and though this too was dismissed as unfounded, Moore left Gadsden shortly thereafter in great disappointment.

Moore's travels eventually took him to Texas, where he spent a year training and fighting professionally as a kickboxer. After a brief return to Gadsden, Moore next travelled to the Australian Outback and, after meeting fundamentalist Christian Colin Rolfe, worked for almost a year as a cowboy on Rolfe's 42,000-acre (170 km2) cattle ranch. He remembered both careers fondly in his autobiography and subsequent interviews and was particularly proud of a kickboxing victory in the Greater Gadsden Tournament of Champions, a triumph he attributed to divine will.

Moore returned to Gadsden again in 1985. He ran in 1986 for Etowah County's district attorney position against fellow Democrat Jimmy Hedgspeth. He lost that election as well, and Moore returned to private practice in the city. During this period, he married his wife Kayla, switched his affiliation to the GOP, and added to his office a wooden Ten Commandments plaque that he had personally carved in 1980.

Circuit Judge[edit]


In 1992, Etowah County Circuit Judge Julius Swann died in office. Republican Governor H. Guy Hunt was charged with making a temporary appointment until the next election. Moore's name was floated by some of his associates, and a background check was initiated with several state and county agencies, including the Etowah County district attorney's office. Moore's former political opponent Jimmy Hedgspeth, who still helmed the D.A.'s office, recommended Moore despite personal reservations, and Moore was installed in the position he had failed to win in 1982. "The impossible had happened!" Moore wrote afterward. "God had given me something that I had not been able to obtain through my own efforts."[13]

Early prayer/Ten Commandments controversy[edit]

When Moore's tenure as circuit judge began, he brought his wooden Ten Commandments plaque with him, hanging it on the walls of his courtroom behind his bench. Moore told the Montgomery Advertiser that his intention in hanging the plaque was to fill up the bare space on the courtroom walls and to indicate the importance of the Ten Commandments. He states that it was not his intention to generate controversy; still, as he told the Atlantic, he understood that the potential for controversy was there, but "I wanted to establish the moral foundation of our law."

Soon after his appointment, when Moore presided over a case where two male strippers (known professionally as "Silk" and "Satin") were charged with murdering a drug addict, the attorney for the defendants objected to the display. This drew the attention of critics, who also objected to Moore's practice of opening court sessions with a prayer beseeching Divine Guidance for jurors in their deliberations. In at least one instance, Moore asked a clergyman to lead the court's jury pool in prayer. Though such pre-session prayers were not uncommon in Alabama, having begun many years earlier by George C. Wallace, Jr. when he was a circuit judge, the local branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sent a letter in June 1993 with the threat of a lawsuit if such prayers did not cease.

On June 20, 1994, the ACLU sent a representative to Moore's courtroom to observe and record the pre-session prayer. Though the organization did not immediately file suit, Moore decried the action as an "act of intimidation" in a post-trial press conference. The incident drew additional attention to Moore just as he was campaigning to hold onto his circuit court seat. In that year's election, Moore won the seat in a landslide victory over local attorney Keith Pitts, who had unsuccessfully prosecuted the "Silk and Satin" murder case.


In March 1995, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Moore, stating that the pre-session prayers and the Ten Commandments display were both unconstitutional. This original lawsuit was eventually dismissed for technical reasons, but Governor Fob James instructed state Attorney General Bill Pryor to file suit in Montgomery County in support of Moore. The case ended up before state Circuit Judge Charles Price, who in 1996 declared the prayers unconstitutional but initially allowed the Ten Commandments plaque to remain on the courtroom walls.

Immediately after the ruling, Moore held a press conference vowing to defy the ruling against pre-session prayers and affirming a religious intent in displaying the plaque. Critics responded by asking Price to reconsider his previous ruling, and the judge issued a new ruling requiring the Ten Commandments plaque to be removed in ten days. Moore appealed Price's decision and kept the plaque up; ten days later the Alabama Supreme Court issued a temporary stay against the ruling. The Court never ruled in the case, throwing it out for technical reasons in 1998.

On the day that the circuit court ruling was stayed, Moore appeared on the national morning program Today, praising the ruling and vowing to continue his practices. A poll released soon after found that 88 percent of Alabamians supported Moore. Though Moore was later investigated by the state Judicial Ethics Committee regarding the use of money raised by Coral Ridge Ministries in his defense, the investigation eventually ended with no charges being brought.

Chief Justice, Alabama Supreme Court[edit]

Campaign and election[edit]

In late 1999, the Christian Family Association began working to draft Moore into the race for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, when incumbent Republican Perry O. Hooper, Sr., of Montgomery announced that he would not seek reelection. Moore said that he was hesitant to make the statewide race because he had "absolutely no funds" and three other candidates, particularly Associate Justice Harold See, were well-financed.[1]

Nevertheless, on December 7, 1999, Moore announced from his Etowah County courtroom that he would enter the race with hope of returning "God to our public life and restore the moral foundation of our law." His campaign, centered on religious issues, arguing that Christianity's declining influence "corresponded directly with school violence, homosexuality, and crime."[13]

Associate Justice Harold See was the heavy favorite to win the Republican nomination because of his support from the state business community and the party hierarchy, including Chief Justice Hooper. However, as Moore made headway in state polls, See elicited the help of Republican strategist Karl Rove, advisor to Texas Governor and future President George W. Bush. Despite Rove's support and significantly more campaign funding, See lost the primary to Moore, who then easily defeated Democratic contender Sharon Yates in November's general election.

Moore was sworn in as Chief Justice on January 15, 2001. Republican former U.S. Representative James D. Martin, who had appointed Moore to West Point years earlier, was among the dignitaries in attendance. On taking the position, Moore said that he had "come to realize the real meaning of the First Amendment and its relationship to the God on whom the oath was based. My mind had been opened to the spiritual war occurring in our state and our nation that was slowly removing the knowledge of that relationship between God and law.

I pledged to support not only the U.S. Constitution, but the Alabama Constitution as well, which provided in its preamble that the state 'established justice' by 'invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God.' The connection between God and our law could not be more clear ...[1]

D.H. vs. H.H.[edit]

In February 2002, as Alabama Chief Justice, Moore issued a controversial opinion that expressed his belief that the State should use its powers to punish "homosexual behavior". The case, D.H. vs. H.H., was a custody dispute where a lesbian was petitioning for custody of her children, alleging abuse by her ex-husband. A circuit court in Alabama had ruled in favor of the father, but the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals overturned that verdict 4–1, saying that substantial evidence existed of abusive behavior by the father.[14]

The state Supreme Court overruled the appeals court because the appeals court ignored evidence disputing abusive behavior by the father; however, Moore issued a concurring opinion concluding that a parent's sexual orientation (in this case, homosexuality) should be a deciding factor in refusing custody:

To disfavor practicing homosexuals in custody matters is not invidious discrimination, nor is it legislating personal morality. On the contrary, disfavoring practicing homosexuals in custody matters promotes the general welfare of the people of our State in accordance with our law, which is the duty of its public servants...

The State carries the power of the sword, that is, the power to prohibit conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution. It must use that power to prevent the subversion of children toward this lifestyle, to not encourage a criminal lifestyle...

Homosexual behavior is a ground for divorce, an act of sexual misconduct punishable as a crime in Alabama, a crime against nature, an inherent evil, and an act so heinous that it defies one's ability to describe it. That is enough under the law to allow a court to consider such activity harmful to a child. To declare that homosexuality is harmful is not to make new law but to reaffirm the old; to say that it is not harmful is to experiment with people's lives, particularly the lives of children.[15]

Moore's comments led to protests in front of the state judicial building and drew nationwide criticism from civil rights groups such as GLAAD, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and the Human Rights Campaign. An official complaint with the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission was also filed by the Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund.[16] A year following the case, the United States Supreme Court struck down statutes such as and including the one Moore referred to (prohibiting same-gender sexual relations) as being unconstitutional in the landmark civil rights case Lawrence v. Texas.

Ten Commandments monument controversy[edit]

Construction and installation[edit]

A month after his election, Moore began making plans for a larger monument to the Ten Commandments, reasoning that the Alabama Supreme Court building required something grander than a wooden plaque. His final design involved a 5,280 pound (2,400 kg) granite block, three feet wide by three feet deep by four feet tall, covered with quotes from the Declaration of Independence, the national anthem, and various founding fathers.[17] The crowning element would be two large carved tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments. High-grade granite from Vermont was ordered and shipped, and Moore found benefactors and a sculptor to complete the job.

On the evening of July 31, 2001, despite some initial installation difficulties and concerns regarding structural support for the monument's weight, Moore had the completed monument transported to the state judicial building and installed in the central rotunda. The installation was filmed, and videotapes of the event were sold by Coral Ridge Ministries, an evangelical media outlet in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which later used proceeds from the sales of the film to underwrite Moore's ensuing legal expenses. Coral Ridge was the operation of the late Reverend D. James Kennedy, a staunch Moore supporter.[18]

The next morning, Moore held a press conference in the central rotunda to officially unveil the monument. In a speech following the unveiling, Moore declared, "Today a cry has gone out across our land for the acknowledgment of that God upon whom this nation and our laws were founded. ... May this day mark the restoration of the moral foundation of law to our people and the return to the knowledge of God in our land."

Federal lawsuit[edit]

On October 30, 2001, the ACLU of Alabama, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Southern Poverty Law Center were among groups which filed suit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, asking that the monument be removed because it "sends a message to all who enter the State Judicial Building that the government encourages and endorses the practice of religion in general and Judeo-Christianity in particular."

The trial, titled Glassroth v. Moore, began on October 15, 2002. Evidence for the plaintiffs included testimony that lawyers of different religious beliefs had changed their work practices, including routinely avoiding visiting the court building to avoid passing by the monument, and testimony that the monument created a religious atmosphere, with many people using the area for prayer.

Moore argued that he would not remove the monument, as doing so would violate his oath of office:

[The monument] serves to remind the Appellate Courts and judges of the Circuit and District Court of this State and members of the bar who appear before them, as well as the people of Alabama who visit the Alabama Judicial Building, of the truth stated in the Preamble to the Alabama Constitution that in order to establish justice we must invoke 'the favor and guidance of almighty God.'[17]

On this note, Moore said that the Ten Commandments are the "moral foundation" of U.S. law, stating that in order to restore this foundation, "we must first recognize the source from which all morality springs...[by] recogniz[ing] the sovereignty of God." He added that the addition of the monument to the state judiciary building marked "the beginning of the restoration of the moral foundation of law to our people" and "a return to the knowledge of God in our land."[17]

Additionally, Moore acknowledged an explicit religious intent in placing the monument, agreeing that the monument "reflects the sovereignty of God over the affairs of men" and "acknowledge[s] God’s overruling power over the affairs of men."[19] However, in Moore's view this did not violate the doctrine of separation of church and state; as the presiding judge later summarized it, Moore argued that "the Judeo-Christian God reigned over both the church and the state in this country, and that both owed allegiance to that God", although they must keep their affairs separate.[17]

Judgment and appeal[edit]

On November 18, 2002, federal U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued his ruling declaring that the monument violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and was thus unconstitutional:

If all Chief Justice Moore had done were to emphasize the Ten Commandments' historical and educational importance... or their importance as a model code for good citizenship... this court would have a much different case before it. But the Chief Justice did not limit himself to this; he went far, far beyond. He installed a two-and-a-half ton monument in the most prominent place in a government building, managed with dollars from all state taxpayers, with the specific purpose and effect of establishing a permanent recognition of the 'sovereignty of God,' the Judeo-Christian God, over all citizens in this country, regardless of each taxpaying citizen's individual personal beliefs or lack thereof. To this, the Establishment Clause says no."[17]

Judge Thompson's decision mandated that Moore remove the monument from the state judicial building by January 3, 2003, but stayed this order on December 23, 2002, after Moore appealed the decision to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. This appeal was argued on June 4, 2003, before a three-judge panel in Atlanta, Georgia. On July 1, 2003, the panel issued a ruling upholding the lower court's decision, agreeing that "the monument fails two of Lemon's three prongs. It violates the Establishment Clause." Additionally, the court noted that different religious traditions assign different wordings of the Ten Commandments, meaning that "choosing which version of the Ten Commandments to display can have religious endorsement implications."[19]

In response to the appeals court's decision, Judge Thompson lifted his earlier stay on August 5, 2003, requiring Moore to have the monument removed from public areas of the state judicial building by August 20.[20]

Protests and monument removal[edit]

Rally before the Alabama State Capitol, August 16, 2003.

On August 14, Moore announced his intention to disobey Judge Thompson's order to have the monument removed. Two days later, large rallies in support of Moore and the Ten Commandments monument began forming in front of the judicial building, featuring speakers such as Alan Keyes, the Reverend Jerry Falwell, and Moore himself. The crowd peaked at an estimated count of 4,000 that day,[21] and anywhere from several hundred to over a thousand protesters remained through the end of August.

The time limit for removal expired on August 20, with the monument still in place in the building's rotunda. As specified in Judge Thompson's order, the state of Alabama faced fines of $5,000 a day until the monument was removed. In response, the eight other members of the Alabama Supreme Court intervened on August 21, unanimously overruled Moore, and ordered the removal of the monument.[22]

Moore said that Thompson, "fearing that I would not obey his order, decided to threaten other state officials and force them to remove the monument if I did not do so. A threat of heavy fines was his way of coercing obedience to that order," an action that Moore sees as a violation of the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution.[1]

On August 27, the monument was moved to a non-public side room in the judicial building.[23] The monument was not immediately removed from the building for several reasons—pending legal hearings, the monument's weight, worries that the monument could break through the floor if it was taken outside intact, and a desire to avoid confrontation with protesters massed outside the structure. The monument was not actually removed from the state judicial building until July 19, 2004.[24]

Removal from office[edit]

On August 22, 2003, two days after the deadline for the Ten Commandments monument's removal had passed, the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) filed a complaint with the Alabama Court of the Judiciary (COJ), a panel of judges, lawyers and others appointed variously by judges, legal leaders, the governor and the lieutenant governor. The complaint effectively suspended Moore from the Chief Justice position pending a hearing by the COJ.[25]

The COJ ethics hearing was held on November 12, 2003. Moore repeated his earlier sentiment that "to acknowledge God cannot be a violation of the Canons of Ethics. Without God there can be no ethics." He also acknowledged that he would repeat his defiance of the court order if given another opportunity to do so, and that if he returned to office, "I certainly wouldn't leave [the monument] in a closet, shrouded from the public." In closing arguments, the Assistant Attorney General said Moore's defiance, left unchecked, "undercuts the entire workings of the judicial system.... What message does that send to the public, to other litigants? The message it sends is: If you don't like a court order, you don't have to follow it."[26] Moore had previously stated his belief that the order was unlawful, and that compliance with such an order was not an enforceable mandate.

The next day, the COJ issued a unanimous opinion ruling that "Chief Justice Moore has violated the Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics as alleged by the JIC in its complaint." The COJ had several disciplinary options, including censure or suspension without pay, but because Moore's responses had indicated he would defy any similar court orders in the future, the COJ concluded that "under these circumstances, there is no penalty short of removal from office that would resolve this issue."[27] Moore was immediately removed from his post.

Moore appealed the COJ's ruling to the Supreme Court of Alabama on December 10, 2003. A special panel of retired judges and justices was randomly selected to hear the case. Moore argued that the COJ did not consider the underlying legality of the federal courts' order that the monument be removed from the courthouse. The Alabama Supreme Court rejected this argument, saying that the COJ did not have the authority to overrule the federal courts, only to determine whether Moore violated the Canons of Judicial Ethics. Therefore, the Court reasoned, it was enough to show that a procedurally-valid order was in place against Moore. Moore also argued that the COJ had imposed a religious test on him to hold his office, and that the COJ's actions had violated his own rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.[28]

The Supreme Court of Alabama rejected each of these arguments as well, and ruled on April 30, 2004 that the COJ had acted properly. The court also upheld the sanction of removal as appropriate.[28]

Return to the bench[edit]

In 2011, Moore initially considered a bid for the Presidency, but instead Moore chose to enter the race for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court once again. He ran in the March 12, 2012 Republican Primary against two candidates. They were the sitting chief justice, Chuck Malone, who had been appointed to the office seven months earlier and former Democratic Attorney General Charles Graddick, who had become a Republican in 1994. Moore unexpectedly defeated both without a runoff despite being heavily outspent.

Surprised Democrats had expected Chief Justice Malone to win and did not run a serious candidate and only had a perennial gadfly nominee. Democrats quickly disqualified him and hand-picked Jefferson County Circuit Judge Bob Vance as his replacement.

On November 6, 2012, Moore defeated Vance (who had outspent him)[29][30] with 53% of the vote, a poor showing for a Republican in a state where there were no statewide elected Democrats.[31]

In January 2012, the Montgomery Advertiser reported that the single-biggest donor to his campaign (having contributed $50,000 of the total $78,000 received by Moore until December 31, 2011) is Michael Peroutka, a longtime acquaintance of Moore's who is associated with organizations such as the Constitution Party and the League of the South and is a frequent guest on The Political Cesspool. In response, Moore said he did not share the ideas of those organizations.[32]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

On January 28, 2015, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a judicial ethics complaint against Moore, stating that he had publicly commented on pending same-sex marriage cases and encouraged state officials and judges to ignore federal court rulings overturning bans on same-sex marriage.[33][34]

Moore issued an order to probate judges and their employees on February 8, the day before a federal court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in Alabama was set to take effect, ordering them to disregard the ruling and enforce the state's ban under threat of legal action by the governor.[35] On February 9, after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the federal court ruling to take effect, probate judges in Birmingham, Montgomery, and Huntsville disobeyed Moore and issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples.[36]

On January 6, 2016, after the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges the previous June, Moore issued an administrative order to lower court judges stating 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."[37]

2016 Charges in Alabama Court of the Judiciary[edit]

On May 6, 2016, the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission forwarded a list of six charges of ethical violations by Moore to the Alabama Court of the Judiciary.[38] Moore was suspended from the Alabama Supreme Court pending trial and ruling. Moore faces removal from office over the charges, which are more serious than those which removed him from office in 2003.[10][39]

The list of charges includes:[40]

  1. Violation of the Alabama Canon of Judicial Ethics, for disregarding a federal injunction.
  2. Violation of the Alabama Canon of Judicial Ethics, for demonstrated unwillingness to follow clear law.
  3. Violation of the Alabama Canon of Judicial Ethics, for abuse of administrative authority.
  4. Violation of the Alabama Canon of Judicial Ethics, for substituting his judgement for the judgement of the entire Alabama Supreme Court, including failure to abstain from public comment about a pending proceeding in his own court.
  5. Violation of the Alabama Canon of Judicial Ethics, for interference with legal process and remedies in the United States District Court and/or Alabama Supreme Court related to proceedings in which Alabama probate judges were involved.
  6. Violation of the Alabama Canon of Judicial Ethics, for failure to recuse himself from pending proceedings in the Alabama Supreme Court after making public comment and placing his impartiality into question.

Moore vs. Judicial Inquiry Commission (US District Court)[edit]

On May 27, Moore filed a federal lawsuit against the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission, alleging that his automatic suspension was unconstitutional.[41][42] On August 4, the federal district court dismissed Moore's suit, ruling that under the abstention doctrine, federal courts generally do not interfere with ongoing state court proceedings.[43][44]

JIC vs. Moore (Court of the Judiciary)[edit]

On June 22, Moore filed a motion to dismiss the JIC proceedings arguing, among other things, that the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission and the Alabama Court of the Judiciary did not have jurisdiction over review of Administrative Orders of the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, and that the JIC had failed to adhere to its own rules regarding confidentiality of the proceedings. Moore also continued to assert in his motion to dismiss that the orders of the Alabama Supreme Court were still in effect from the Alabama Policy Institute proceedings prohibiting the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses by probate judges in Alabama, despite the rulings in Obergefell v. Hodges issued by the US Supreme Court, Searcy v. Strange, Strawser v. Strange, and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals which held that the orders were "abrogated" by Obergefell.[38][45][46][47][48]

The Human Rights Campaign responded "It is clear that Roy Moore not only believes he is above the law, he believes he is above judicial ethics. ... Moore was tasked with upholding the law of the land when marriage equality was affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States, and he defied that task, in the process harming loving, committed same-sex couples across Alabama for his own personal, discriminatory reasons. We remain optimistic that the sanctions against Moore will be upheld".[49]

On June 27, the Court of the Judiciary issued on order setting a hearing date on Moore's Motion to Dismiss for August 8, and stated in their order that Moore's Motion to Dismiss would be treated as a Motion for Summary judgment pertaining to the charges filed by the JIC.[50][51]

On July 15, the Judicial Inquiry Commission filed a response to Roy Moore's motion to dismiss asking the Court of the Judiciary to issue summary judgment removing Moore from the bench. Attorneys for the JIC wrote in their response "Because the chief justice has proven—and promised—that he will not change his behavior, he has left this Court with no choice but to remove him from office to preserve the integrity, independence, impartiality of Alabama's judiciary and the citizens who depend on it for justice".[52][53][54][55]

On July 22, Alabama Court of the Judiciary member John V. Denson II recused himself from the proceedings, citing his prior involvement in the 2003 JIC case which removed Justice Roy Moore from the bench over the Ten Commandments Monument Controversy. Denson stated his reason for recusing himself was "to promote public confidence in the court and avoid the appearance of impropriety".[56][57][58] On July 23, Chief Judge Michael Joiner of the Alabama Court of the Judiciary issued an order appointing Attorney W. N. "Rocky" Watson to replace John Denson on the Alabama Court of the Judiciary during the Moore case.[59]

On July 26, attorneys for Liberty Counsel, who represent Roy Moore in the JIC proceedings, filed a reply to the JIC Motion for Summary Judgment denying that Chief Justice Roy Moore had directed Alabama's Probate Judges to disobey an injunction issued by the US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. Moore's attorneys continued to assert that the orders of the Alabama Supreme Court, which required Alabama's probate judges to deny same sex couples marriage licenses, were still in effect, and that Moore's January 6 Administrative Order was mischaracterized by the JIC, despite the fact that Moore stated in his January 6 order, "... 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." [60][61] [62][63]

On August 8, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary held a hearing on Moore's Motion to Dismiss and the JIC Motion for Summary Judgment related to the charges pending against Chief Justice Moore. Moore's attorneys continued to assert in their arguments that Justice Moore did not order probate judges to disobey an injunction issued by the US District Court, or to disobey the U.S. Supreme Court rulings regarding same-sex marriage. John Carroll, who represented the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission, responded that this defense argument "defies common sense" based upon Justice Moore's actions. Carroll argued that Moore was removed from office in 2003 for defying a federal court order and said Moore is again defying federal courts and their rulings supporting same-sex marriage, and should be immediately removed from office.[64][65] The Alabama Court of the Judiciary subsequently denied both Justice Moore's motion for dismissal and the JIC motion for summary judgment and ordered the matter set for a trial scheduled for September 28, 2016 at 9:00 am in the Alabama Supreme Courtroom.[66]

On September 30, 2016, Moore was found guilty of all six charges against him and suspended for the remainder of his term, slated to end in 2019.[11] In its 50-page order, the Court of the Judiciary stated it did not find credible Moore's claim that the purpose for the Jan. 6 order was "merely to provide a 'status update' to the state's probate judges."[11] He will not be paid for the remainder of his term, must pay court costs and the ruling effectively ends Moore's Supreme Court career, as he will not be eligible for reelection in 2018.[12][67][68]

JIC vs. Moore Appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court[edit]

On October 3, 2016, Roy Moore filed a Notice of Appeal with the Court of the Judiciary appealing his suspension and the final judgement of the Court of the Judiciary to the Alabama Supreme Court alleging that neither the JIC nor the COJ had jurisdiction to investigate and punish Chief Justice Moore for issuing his Administrative Order of January 6, 2016. Moore alleged that the Judicial Inquiry Commission failed to prove any of its six charges with clear and convincing evidence, and that the JIC violated its own rules and Alabama law by breaching confidentiality during its investigation and by prosecuting a charge (charge number 6) that was never included in a sworn complaint. Moore also alleged that by "suspending him" without pay for the remainder of his term, the COJ essentially removed him from office without unanimous agreement by the entire Court of the Judiciary as required under Alabama Statute.[69][70][71][72] Pending the appeal, Moore refused to clean out his office.[73]

Election issues and campaigns[edit]


Moore was considered as a possible candidate for the Constitution Party in the 2004 presidential election. Despite encouragement from several corners, Moore did not pursue the nomination.[5]

Moore was also a notable opponent of a proposed amendment to the Alabama constitution in 2004. Known as Amendment 2, the proposed legislation would have removed wording from the state constitution that referred to poll taxes and required separate schools for "white and colored children," a practice already outlawed due to civil rights-era legislation during the Civil Rights Movement. Moore and other opponents of the measure argued that the amendment's wording would have allowed federal judges to force the state to fund public school improvements with increased taxes. Voters in Alabama narrowly defeated the proposed amendment, with a margin of 1,850 votes out of 1.38 million cast.[74]

In 2004, along with Herb Titus, Moore was an original drafter of the Constitution Restoration Act[75] which sought to remove federal courts' jurisdiction over a government official or entity's "acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government," and provided for the impeachment of judges who failed to do so. The bill was introduced in both houses of Congress in 2004 and then reintroduced in 2005, but languished in committee both times.


On October 3, 2005, Moore announced that he would run against Governor Riley in the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary in Alabama. On the campaign trail, Moore referred to what he believed was the stand that the American founding fathers made for the biblical basis for law, including statements that he felt extolled the supremacy of God as the basis for successful government.

As with the 2000 Supreme Court election, Moore's opponent maintained steady advantages over the Moore campaign, including almost four times as much funding and the support of the state Republican establishment. However, intra-party politics proved trickier this time around. Moore accused the chair of the state's Republican Party of bias towards Riley and called on her to resign; he also criticized President Bush for his support of Riley in the race. His criticism of the state Republican machine was so harsh that he eventually had to call a press conference to quell rumors that he would run as an independent if he lost the Republican primary.[76]

Despite Moore's predictions that his initial low polling numbers were inaccurate, Riley won the primary, 306,665 (66.6 percent) to 153,354 (33.34 percent). In his concession speech, Moore told supporters that "God's will has been done." Moore did not call Riley to concede and refused to support Riley in the general election because of Riley's acceptance of campaign contributions from political action committees.[76] Despite losing the Republican primary Moore was endorsed as a write-in candidate in the general election by the Alabama Constitution Party.


On June 1, 2009, Moore announced his campaign for the 2010 election for Governor of Alabama.[2] On April 17, 2010, former NASCAR driver Bobby Allison endorsed Moore for governor.[77][78] In the June 1, 2010 Republican primary election, Moore came in fourth place behind Bradley Byrne, Robert J. Bentley, and Tim James (son of former Governor Fob James). Moore garnered 19 percent of the vote, behind Tim James with 25.11 percent, Robert Bentley with 25.15 percent, and Bradley Byrne with 27.89 percent.


In a speech in Mississippi, Moore said that the Framers of the Declaration of Independence and the Founding Fathers attributed our rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" as coming from a specific "Creator" God, stating "Buddha didn’t create us, Mohammed didn’t create us, it was the God of the Holy Scriptures."[79] When he was accused of implying the First Amendment only protected Christians, he rejected that and stated his belief that the First Amendment protects all faiths: "It applies to the rights God gave us to be free in our modes of thinking, and as far as religious liberty to all people, regardless of what they believe."[80]


On May 6, 2016, Moore was again suspended by the state's Court of the Judiciary.[10] On September 30, 2016. Moore was found guilty of all six charges against him and was suspended for the remainder of his term, which ends in 2019.[11]


In 2006, Moore began writing weekly columns for WorldNetDaily.[81][82] In his debut column, Moore argued that God is the "sovereign source of our law", echoing his language and reasoning used in the failed Constitution Restoration Act.[83]

In a column dated December 13, 2006, Moore wrote that Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim to have been elected to the United States House of Representatives in the 2006 election should be barred from sitting in Congress because in his view, a Muslim could not honestly take the oath of office. Moore said that the Qur'an did not allow for religions other than Islam to exist, and added that "common sense alone dictates that in the midst of a war with Islamic terrorists we should not place someone in a position of great power who shares their doctrine".[84] Not only do these statements conflict with the First Amendment and the Constitution's prohibition on religious tests for public office, but they have led to critics stating that Moore advocates a "Christians only theocracy."[85]

His last column appeared in July 2009.[86]

Judge Roy Moore is Coming to Dinner[edit]

Inspired by Guess Who's Coming to Dinner,[87] Tom Wofford's Judge Roy Moore is Coming to Dinner is a 2004 play about two gay men who decide to marry in California and return home to Alabama to tell their families. Laced throughout the performance are quotes from Moore's concurring opinion in D.H. vs. H.H., the 2002 child custody dispute mentioned above.[88] The original cast starred Brian Webber as Judge Roy Moore. Moore issued a statement condemning it as the "result of federal activism in our court system" and saying that same-sex marriage corrupts American society; he did not attend a viewing of the play.[88] The play was revived in 2012 at the Carver Theater in Birmingham.[87]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Moore, Roy S.; John Perry (2005). So Help Me God: The Ten Commandments, Judicial Tyranny, and the Battle for Religious Freedom. Nashville, Tennessee: Broadman and Holman. ISBN 978-0-8054-3263-3. 
  2. ^ a b "Roy Moore enters race for governor". Montgomery Bureau. 2 June 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2015. 
  3. ^ "Ten Commandments judge explores presidential run". Yahoo News. Associated Press. April 18, 2011. 
  4. ^ Jacobs, Jennifer (18 April 2011). "Republican former judge Roy Moore testing waters for presidential bid". Des Moines Register blog. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Derby, Kevin (August 17, 2011). "Will Roy Moore Be the GOP's Ralph Nader in 2012?". Sunshine State News. 
  6. ^ RedPhillips (August 26, 2011). "Roy Moore to Speak Sunday in Alabama". 
  7. ^ Derby, Kevin (November 23, 2011). "Roy Moore to Run for His Old Job -- Not the White House". Sunshine State News. Retrieved November 24, 2011. 
  8. ^ "Roy Moore Wins Old Job as Ala. Chief Justice". Huffington Post. Associated Press. 7 November 2012. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ a b c Robertson, Campbell (May 6, 2016). "Roy Moore, Alabama Judge, Suspended Over Gay Marriage Stance". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ a b c d Faulk, Kent (September 30, 2016). "Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore suspended for rest of term". Alabama Media Group. Retrieved September 30, 2016. 
  12. ^ a b "Roy S. Moore : Supreme Court of Alabama : Final Judgment" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  13. ^ a b Green, Joshua (October 2005). "Roy and His Rock". The Atlantic. 
  14. ^ Keith, Leon Drouin (2002-03-28). "Lesbian mother in Alabama custody case mulls appeal". AP (via 
  15. ^ Ex parte H.H. (In re: D.H. v. H.H.), 2002.
  16. ^ Fleming, Mike (2002-03-04). "Alabama judge defends anti-gay remarks". The Southern Voice (via GLAAD). 
  17. ^ a b c d e Glassroth v. Moore (PDF) (M.D. Ala. 2002). Archived September 21, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› 
  18. ^ Hess, Michael (2003-09-01). "Alabama Ten Commandments display not civil rights issue". BBSNews. 
  19. ^ a b "Glassroth v. Moore (11th Cir. 2003)" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 12, 2004. 
  20. ^ Glassroth v. Moore (Final Judgment and Injunction) (PDF) (M.D. Ala. 2003).
  21. ^ Kleffman, Todd (2003-08-17). "Thousands rally for Commandments". Montgomery Advertiser. 
  22. ^ Order No. 03-01 (PDF), August 21, 2003.
  23. ^ West, William F. (2003-08-28). "Display removal irritates crowd". Montgomery Advertiser. 
  24. ^ McGrew, Jannell (2004-07-20). "Ten Commandments monument on tour". Montgomery Advertiser. 
  25. ^ McGrew, Jannell (2003-08-23). "Moore suspended". Montgomery Advertiser. 
  26. ^ Wingfield, Kyle (2003-11-13). "Alabama chief justice removed from office". AP (via 
  27. ^ In the matter of: Roy S. Moore, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama (PDF), 2003. Archived February 20, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› 
  28. ^ a b Moore v. Judicial Inquiry Comm'n of State, 891 So.2d 848 (Ala. 2004).
  29. ^ Beyerle, Dana (14 March 2012). "Moore wins GOP nomination for chief justice". Gadsden Times. 
  30. ^ Johnson, Bob (14 March 2012). "'Ten Commandments Judge' Wins Primary for Old Job". ABC News. Retrieved 14 March 2012. 
  31. ^ Newkirk, Margaret. "Ten Commandments Judge Battles Bomb Victim's Son in Alabama Race". Bloomberg L.P. Retrieved 27 September 2014. 
  32. ^ Lyman, Brian (8 January 2012). "Major Moore donor has extremist affiliations". Montgomery Advertiser. 
  33. ^ "SPLC files ethics complaint against Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore over pledge to defy federal law and enforce same-sex marriage ban". Southern Poverty Law Center. January 28, 2015. 
  34. ^ "Group files complaint against Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore". The Tuscaloosa News. The Associated Press. January 28, 2015. 
  35. ^ Blinder, Alan (February 8, 2015). "Alabama Judge Defies Gay Marriage Law". The New York Times. 
  36. ^ Blinder, Alan (February 9, 2015). "U.S. Supreme Court Won't Stop Same-Sex Marriages in Alabama". The New York Times. 
  37. ^ "Chief Justice Moore Administrative Order, January 6, 2016" (PDF). 
  38. ^ a b "JIC Complaint Against Roy S. Moore, May 6, 2016" (PDF). 
  39. ^ Whitemire, Kyle (6 May 2016). "Roy Moore suspended from office: Alabama chief justice faces removal over gay marriage stance". Retrieved 7 May 2016. 
  40. ^ "Roy S. Moore : Supreme Court of Alabama : The Judicial Inquiry Commission of the State of Alabama fi les this Complaint against Chief Justice Roy S. Moore of the Supreme Court of Alabama" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  41. ^ "Justice Roy Moore suing the Judicial Inquiry Commission". WTOK-TV. Associated Press. May 28, 2016. 
  42. ^ "Roy Moore Verified Complaint" (PDF). 
  43. ^ Faulk, Kent (August 4, 2016). "Federal Judge Dismisses Roy Moore Suit". The Birmingham News. 
  44. ^ "Microsoft Word - Moore abstention newest version.docx" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  45. ^ "Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore Response". Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  46. ^ [2][dead link]
  47. ^ "Roy Moore: Same-sex marriage order was meant as advice". 2016-06-22. Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  48. ^ Michael Doudna. "Roy Moore's attorney moves to dismiss case - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL". Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  49. ^ "LGBTQ group says Roy Moore believes he is 'above the law'". Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  50. ^ "Roy Moore case: Hearing set; phone calls, emails discouraged". 2016-06-27. Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  51. ^ "COJ Moore Order June 27 2016". 2016-06-27. Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  52. ^ JIC Cross Motion for Summary Judgment JIC vs. Moore
  53. ^ "Ethics panel wants Roy Moore removed from office | News". 2016-07-15. Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  54. ^ "Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission: Remove Chief Justice Roy Moore from the bench now". Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  55. ^ "Judicial panel wants Roy Moore off bench | Ap". 2016-07-15. Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  56. ^ Lauten, Elizabeth (2016-07-22). "AL Court of the Judiciary member recuses self from Roy Moore case". Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  57. ^ "Roy Moore case: Court member steps aside". 2016-07-21. Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  58. ^ "Alabama Court of the Judiciary member recuses self from Roy Moore case". Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  59. ^ "New attorney appointed to court considering charges against Roy Moore". 2016-07-23. Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  61. ^ "Roy Moore says he did not order probate judges to ignore U.S. Supreme Court". Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  62. ^ "Suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore defends his marriage memo | WBMA". Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  63. ^ Chandler, Kim. "Roy Moore defends his gay marriage ban memo". Tuscaloosa News. Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  64. ^ [3][dead link]
  65. ^ Brian Lawson (2016-08-08). "Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore headed to trial on ethics charges". Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  66. ^ "Roy S. Moore : Supreme Court of Alabama : The trial of this matter is set for September 28, 2016" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  67. ^ "Roy Moore Is Suspended For Rest Of Term As Alabama's Chief Justice Over Same-Sex Marriage Stance : The Two-Way". 2016-09-30. Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  68. ^ To run for reelection on the Alabama Supreme Court, one must be 69 years old or younger. Moore will be 71 in November 2018.
  69. ^ Notice of Appeal JIC v. Moore 2016
  70. ^ "As Roy Moore appeals suspension, his lawyer notes another judge's lesser punishment for sexting". Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  71. ^ "Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore Appealing Ethics Conviction". 2016-10-04. Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  72. ^ "UPDATED: Roy Moore begins appeal of ethics conviction | Local News". 2016-10-04. Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  73. ^ Chandler, Kim (21 October 2016). "Moore refuses to remove items from courthouse". Montgomery Advertiser. p. 10C. 
  74. ^ Roig-Franzia, Manuel (2004-11-28). "Alabama vote opens old racial wounds". Washington Post. 
  75. ^ "Judge Roy Moore Introduces Constitution Restoration Act 2004". WAFF News. 2004-02-13. 
  76. ^ a b Rawls, Phillip (2006-06-11). "Dark political future?". AP (via Decatur Daily). 
  77. ^ "iCloud". Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  78. ^ "Bobby Allison endorses Roy Moore for Ala. governor". AP (via WSFA News). 2010-04-21. 
  79. ^ "YouTube". YouTube. Retrieved 2016-10-11. 
  80. ^ Lyman, Brian (5 May 2014). "Roy Moore: First Amendment applies to all faiths". Montgomery Advertiser. 
  81. ^ "Judge Roy Moore debuts as columnist". WorldNetDaily. 2006-07-26. Retrieved 2006-07-26. 
  82. ^ Koppelman, Alex (March 14, 2012). "The Return of Roy Moore". The New Yorker. 
  83. ^ Moore, Roy (2006-07-26). "Will America choose to acknowledge God?". WorldNetDaily. Retrieved 2006-07-26. 
  84. ^ Moore, Roy (2006-12-13). "Muslim Ellison should not sit in Congress". WorldNetDaily. Retrieved 2006-12-13. 
  85. ^ Brayton, Ed (2006-12-14). "Moore's Christians Only Theocracy". Dispatches from the Culture Wars. Retrieved 2006-12-16. 
  86. ^ "Judge Roy Moore". WorldNetDaily. Retrieved 11 February 2015. 
  87. ^ a b Harvey, Alec (October 4, 2012). "Actors Theatre of Alabama tackling 2004 play 'Judge Roy Moore is Coming to Dinner'". 
  88. ^ a b Chiotakis, Steve (June 18, 2004). "Judge Moore is Coming to Dinner". WBHM. 

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Perry O. Hooper, Sr.
Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court
Succeeded by
J. Gorman Houston, Jr.
Preceded by
Charles R. Malone
Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court
Succeeded by
Lyn Stuart