A Special Supreme Court convened to hear the case approved Moore’s motion to expedite the appeal March 6. The chief justice’s attorneys wrote in their brief seeking the move that Moore wanted to address the issue, as the suspension precluded Moore “from earning a livelihood to support his family.”“This case has been fully briefed and the issues before this Court are straightforward,” said the brief, filed in February.
There should be no further delay in rendering a final disposition of this case.” The decision means the court will determine Moore’s fate based on briefs filed with the court. The court did not give a sign when it might rule on the matter.
The Court of the Judiciary last September suspended Moore for the remainder of his term, finding a Jan. 6, 2016 order to probate judges telling them they had a “ministerial duty” not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples – despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of same-sex marriage – violated the Code of Judicial Ethics. The chief justice was removed from office in 2003 for refusing to obey a federal court order mandating removal of a Ten Commandments monument from the Heflin-Torbert Judicial Building, where the state’s appellate courts sit. Moore and his attorneys argued the same-sex marriage order, largely ignored by probate judges, did not change settled law and aimed to advise them of a pending lawsuit before the Alabama Supreme Court. But the court rejected that argument, saying the Jan. 6 memo was “incomplete to the point that this court finds it was intended to be misleading.”
The chief justice appealed the ruling to the Alabama Supreme Court, which recused itself from the appeal in October owing to their involvement in the events that led to Moore’s suspension. A Special Supreme Court, selected by lottery from a pool of retired judges, took the bench later that month. Lyn Stuart has served as acting chief justice since Moore was initially suspended last May.
Should Moore win his appeal, age limits will prevent him from seeking another term on the bench. The chief justice has declined to discuss his future political plans but was one of several candidates interviewed by Gov. Robert Bentley for a vacant U.S. Senate seat last year. Moore mounted unsuccessful campaigns for governor in 2006 and 2010.