HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Lawyers for suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore filed arguments in his appeal as Moore seeks to get his job back.
He was suspended in September for the remaining two years of term after the Alabama Court of the Judiciary found he violated Alabama ethics rules for judges.
The case will be heard by a special panel of retired judges. The current members of Alabama’s high court recused themselves in the case.
In the appeal, Moore’s lawyers contend that the sentence was improper. They argue the court didn’t have a unanimous vote, which is required for a removal from office. But, the appeal argues, the suspension for the remainder of Moore’s term is effectively the same as a removal.
The appeal also argues there was not sufficient evidence find Moore guilty of violating the rules for judges.
The dispute follows Moore’s 2016 memo to Alabama’s probate judges concerning the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses.
Moore’s order said the judges have a "ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary" to Alabama's laws banning same-sex marriage.
Alabama’s Judicial Inquiry Commission and the Alabama Court of the Judiciary found that Moore was directing the state’s probate judges to defy federal court orders on same-sex marriage. The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in June 2015 that state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional.
But Moore’s lawyers said he was updating the probate judges on an ongoing issue, because the Alabama Supreme Court had upheld the ban the year before.
“Chief Justice Moore demonstrated, by contrast, the express terms of the Administrative Order merely pointed out a legal truism that existing orders of this Court were still in effect until this Court decides otherwise,” the appeal brief argues.
The appeal brief also asks the Alabama Supreme Court throw out the charge against Moore based on the claim that the Alabama Judiciary Commission leaked new of the charges to the media, before they were formally issued.