MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The Alabama Court of the Judiciary has issued its judgment on Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore in a 50-page opinion. The court decided to suspend Moore from office for the remainder of his term, effective immediately.
[Read the court's opinion here: Moore judgment]
That term expires in 2019.
Moore is currently 69 years old; Alabama judges are not allowed to run for office after 70.
They did not reach a unanimous vote to remove Moore from office.
The court found there was clear and convincing evidence that Moore was guilty of the charges before them, namely that he had encouraged state officials to violate federal court orders regarding same-sex marriage. Moore issued a memo to the state's probate judges in January 2016, telling them not to issue same-sex marriage licenses until the Alabama Supreme Court took up the matter. But, that order came six months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional.
The court said it did not find credible Moore's claim that the purpose of his January 2016 order was merely to provide a "status update" rather than ordering them not to issue same-sex marriage licenses. The order said the judges have a "ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary" to Alabama's laws banning same-sex marriage.
If Moore attempts an appeal, that appeal would go to Moore's colleagues on the Alabama Supreme court.
Moore's attorney Mat Staver said they will appeal. Staver is the founder of the conservative Orlando-based legal group Liberty Counsel
“To suspend Chief Justice Moore for the duration of his term is a miscarriage of justice," Staver said in a news release, "and we will appeal this case to the Alabama Supreme Court. This case is far from over."
The Montgomery-based Southern Poverty Law Center filed a complaint about Moore's actions with the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission. Richard Cohen, the group's president, issued a statement about the court's decision.
"The Court of the Judiciary has done the citizens of Alabama a great service by suspending Roy Moore from the bench," Cohen said. "He disgraced his office and undermined the integrity of the judiciary by putting his personal religious beliefs above his sworn duty to uphold the U.S. Constitution."
Moore was called before the Court of the Judiciary on charges he violated the state's judicial canon of ethics. The court found he was guilty of six violations, including: he failed to uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary; he failed to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety; he failed to respect and comply with the law in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary; that he failed to avoid conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice; he failed to perform his duties impartially and that he failed to avoid public comment about a pending matter before his own court.
James Robinson, founder of Huntsville-based Free2Be -- an anti-violence group that advocates for "Human & Civil Rights of Sexual & Gender Minorities" -- said Friday afternoon he was happy to see Moore suspended. The group is holding a celebration in Huntsville Friday evening.
"We're very happy that he can no longer hurt the people of Alabama from that position of power that he had on the Alabama Supreme Court," he said.
This is a developing story, and we will continue to update with more details.