Mat Staver and Roy Moore

On Wednesday Roy Moore and Mat Staver, head of the hate group Liberty Counsel representing Moore, inexplicably held a press conference calling upon the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission to dismiss complaints against Moore. According to Staver the complainants are the Southern Poverty Law Center, People for the
American Way, the Human Rights Campaign, atheists, and homosexual
activists. To put it politely, I suspect that JIC is not predisposed to give much weight to this media event.

According to Staver, in a separate email:

Ambrosia Starling, a transvestite, addressing a rally held on
the plaza of the Alabama Judicial Building, urged homosexual activists
and their supporters to file form complaints … She called for 50 people to “participate in the movement
together as a group” by copying the provided text into the official
complaint form. A free notary was on hand at the rally to formalize the
complaints against the Chief Justice.

At the conclusion of the rally, a same-sex wedding ceremony
was performed on the steps of the Judicial Building in contradiction of
existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court that were then under

At the presser, Moore referred to the wedding as a mock wedding (it was perfectly lawful). Moore also indulges in a recitation of his understanding of the DSM. I digress and Moore/Staver distract.

The Southern Poverty Law Center time-line:

This all starts on January 23, 2015 when U.S. District Judge Callie V.S.
Granade entered a Memorandum Decision and Order
declaring that Alabama’s marriage restrictions violate the United States
Constitution. On January 27, Moore sent a letter to Governor Bentley which was distributed to the media. Therein in claimed that the state’s same-sex marriage ban was in force. Referring to the federal court order as tyranny Moore said that if magistrate judges issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples they would be defying state law.

The next day, January 28, 2015, SPLC filed a complaint with the state Judicial Inquiry Commission which, a decade earlier, had removed Moore from the bench for violating federal law. The complaint alleges that Moore engaged in improper conduct and was guilty of numerous ethics violations.

SPLC updated the complaint on February 3, 2015 and July 29, 2015 as Moore made additional statements. The July 29 supplement also accused Moore of an improper association with the Foundation for Moral Law, a 501(c)3 headed by Moore’s wife. As Richard Cohen, head of SPLC said (I paraphrase) Moore was wrapping himself in the Bible as he thumbed his nose at the federal judiciary.

On January 6, 2016, SPLC supplemented their complaint a third time. On that same day Moore issued an administrative order advising the state’s magistrates that they had a “ministerial duty” not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In short Moore was advising these judges to violate federal law.


Getting back to Staver’s April 27, 2016 email, we get a sense of why Liberty Counsel loses most of its cases. To the best of my knowledge the part highlighted in yellow never happened. Staver seems to reject the precedents established in Marbury v. Madison and Cooper v. Aaron. Basically (and it is basic), the Constitution is the law of the land; the Supreme Court is the final arbiter of the Constitution; and states cannot nullify, or interpose themselves between, federal law. Staver does little more than repeat Moore’s BS:

…The attorneys for the Chief Justice explained that the complaints against him are not about ethical misconduct, but instead are an attack on his statements and administrative orders about the legal status of Alabama’s Sanctity of Marriage laws.

Under the Alabama Constitution, the Chief Justice has administrative authority over Alabama probate judges. When a federal district court ruled against the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage laws, the probate judges were confused about whether they should issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. In February 2015, Chief Justice Moore issued an Administrative Order stating that the opinion from the federal court applied only to the parties in that case and that the probate judges as non-parties to that case were bound to follow Alabama law. In March 2015, the Alabama Supreme Court ordered the probate judges to cease issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. [March 3, 2015; March 10, 2015; and March 12, 2015]. In a separate ruling, the federal district court also acknowledged that its opinion was limited to the parties only.

In January 2016, the Chief Justice issued a second Administrative Order, reminding the probate judges that the March 2015 Order remained in effect, pending further action by the Alabama Supreme Court. In that Order, the Chief Justice did not tell the probate judges to disobey federal court orders as has, at times, been incorrectly reported. On March 4, 2016, the Alabama Supreme Court issued the Certificate of Judgment on the March 2015 Orders and did not vacate, modify, or otherwise disturb those Orders, as Chief Justice Moore explained in his concurring opinion.

“The complaints against Chief Justice Roy Moore are about marriage, as indicated by the rally held on the steps of the Supreme Court. He did nothing wrong. The politically motivated complaints filed with the JIC have no basis in the Canons of Judicial Ethics. The Alabama Supreme Court is the only body that has statutory authority to overrule administrative orders of the Chief Justice. See § 12-5-20, Ala. Code 1975. The complaints filed against the Chief Justice ask the JIC to usurp the legal authority of the Justices of the Alabama Supreme Court to review the administrative orders of the Chief Justice. Those complaints also pose a threat to the doctrine of judicial independence. Judges must be free to exercise their considered judgment without the threat of being attacked by organizations and individuals who wish to misuse the ethical process to further a radical political agenda,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.

Bentley is term limited. Moore is presumed to be a 2018 candidate for governor. He is just doing a cheap imitation of the loathsome former Alabama governor George Wallace with a different target for discrimination. It might work.

By David Cary Hart

Retired CEO. Formerly a W.E. Deming-trained quality-management consultant. Now just a cranky Jewish queer. Gay cis. He/Him/His.