Alabama Supreme Court upholds suspension of Roy Moore as chief justice over stance on gay marriage licenses

(Reuters/Marvin Gentry)A same-sex marriage supporter holds a sign referring to Alabama's Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, during a protest outside the Jefferson County Courthouse in Birmingham, Alabama February 9, 2015.

Roy Moore will remain suspended from his position as chief justice following a ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court that upheld a lower court decision that found him guilty of ethics violations over his 2016 memo regarding same-sex marriage licenses.

On Wednesday, a special panel comprised of randomly-selected retired judges affirmed Moore's term-long suspension handed down by the state Court of the Judiciary (COJ) on Sept. 30, 2016.

Moore decried the decision in a press conference and contended that he remains chief justice despite the suspension.

"This was a politically motivated prosecution from the very beginning, from the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Judicial Inquiry Commission, with certain transgender and homosexual groups to remove me from public office because of my stand on same-sex marriage," he said, according to Christian News Network.

"I have done my duty under the laws of this state to stand for the undeniable truth that God ordained marriage as the union of one and one woman," he added.

The 69-year-old chief justice was supposed to end his term in 2019, but he will not be able to run for the office again because of his age.

According to AL.com, Moore will not be able to appeal the ruling to the federal courts because there are no federal issues. He said he would announce his decision next week whether or not he would run for the U.S. Senate.

His suspension stems from a January 2016 memo that halted the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

In March 2015, six of the nine judges of the Alabama Supreme Court released an order to stop issuing gay marriage licenses.

When the U.S. Supreme Court declared gay marriage legal nationwide three months later, Moore issued a memo advising that the full court's previous order remained in effect until it issued directives in light of the ruling by the nation's highest court.

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a complaint against Moore to the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) in May, and he was suspended as he faced a trial before the COJ.

Moore argued during the trial that he did not issue any orders, but only a status update. However, the COJ found him guilty and suspended him for the remainder of his term.

It was the second time he was removed from his position as Chief Justice. He was suspended in November 2003 when he refused to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Supreme Court building, but he was re-elected to the position in 2012.

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