Alabama's top judge faces ethics charges over gay-marriage order

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Alabama's Supreme Court Chief Justice Might Get Fired ... Again

(Reuters) -- Alabama's Supreme Court Chief Justice was suspended on Friday for ordering state probate judges not to grant marriage licenses to gay couples, despite contrary rulings by a federal court and the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Chief Justice Roy Moore, an outspoken opponent of same-sex unions, faces possible removal from the bench after the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission charged him with violating the state's judicial ethics laws, according to news website AL.com.

RELATED: Same-sex unions ruling leads to celebrations

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Supreme Court Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage, Gay Marriage, Marriage Equality
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Alabama's top judge faces ethics charges over gay-marriage order
People celebrate during a rally outside the Stonewall Tavern in the West Village in New York on June 26, 2015, after the US Supreme Court's historic decision on same sex marriage. The US Supreme Court ruled on June 26, that gay marriage is a nationwide right, a landmark decision in one of the most keenly awaited announcements in decades and sparking scenes of jubilation. The nation's highest court, in a narrow 5-4 decision, said the US Constitution requires all states to carry out and recognize marriage between people of the same sex. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Ikeita Cantu, left, and her wife Carmen Guzman, of McLean, Va., hold up signs as they celebrate outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday June 26, 2015, after the court declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the US. The couple was married in Canada in 2009 when gay marriage was illegal in Virginia. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
A couple kiss to celebrate the US Supreme Court's historic decision on same sex marriage during a rally outside the Stonewall Tavern in the West Village in New York on June 26, 2015, after the US Supreme Court's historic decision on same sex marriage. The US Supreme Court ruled on June 26, that gay marriage is a nationwide right, a landmark decision in one of the most keenly awaited announcements in decades and sparking scenes of jubilation. The nation's highest court, in a narrow 5-4 decision, said the US Constitution requires all states to carry out and recognize marriage between people of the same sex. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case that legalized same sex marriage nationwide, is backed by supporters of the courts ruling on same-sex marriage on the step of the Texas Capitol during a rally Monday, June 29, 2015, in Austin, Texas. The Supreme Court declared Friday that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the United States. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN - Marriage equality supporters rally on the steps of the Supreme Court as they wait for a decision Friday, June 26, 2015, in Washington. (Kevin Wolf/AP Images for Human Rights Campaign)
People celebrates during a rally outside the Stonewall Tavern in the West Village in New York on June 26, 2015, after the US Supreme Court's historic decision on same sex marriage. The US Supreme Court ruled on June 26, that gay marriage is a nationwide right, a landmark decision in one of the most keenly awaited announcements in decades and sparking scenes of jubilation. The nation's highest court, in a narrow 5-4 decision, said the US Constitution requires all states to carry out and recognize marriage between people of the same sex. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
Carlos McKnight of Washington, waves a flag in support of gay marriage outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday June 26, 2015. A major opinion on gay marriage is among the remaining to be released before the term ends at the end of June. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
People celebrate outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on June 26, 2015 after its historic decision on gay marriage. The US Supreme Court ruled Friday that gay marriage is a nationwide right, a landmark decision in one of the most keenly awaited announcements in decades and sparking scenes of jubilation. The nation's highest court, in a narrow 5-4 decision, said the US Constitution requires all states to carry out and recognize marriage between people of the same sex. AFP PHOTO/ MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters of same-sex marriage celebrate outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday June 26, 2015, after the court declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the US. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Two women celebrate outside the Supreme Court in Washington DC on June 26, 2015 after its historic decision on gay marriage. The US Supreme Court ruled Friday that gay marriage is a nationwide right, a landmark decision in one of the most keenly awaited announcements in decades and sparking scenes of jubilation. The nation's highest court, in a narrow 5-4 decision, said the US Constitution requires all states to carry out and recognize marriage between people of the same sex. AFP PHOTO/ MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Same-sex marriage supporters rejoice after the U.S Supreme Court hands down a ruling regarding same-sex marriage June 26, 2015 outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. The high court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
People celebrate outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on June 26, 2015 after its historic decision on gay marriage. The US Supreme Court ruled Friday that gay marriage is a nationwide right, a landmark decision in one of the most keenly awaited announcements in decades and sparking scenes of jubilation. The nation's highest court, in a narrow 5-4 decision, said the US Constitution requires all states to carry out and recognize marriage between people of the same sex. AFP PHOTO/ MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
People run under a giant equality flag as they celebrate outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on June 26, 2015 after its historic decision on gay marriage. The US Supreme Court ruled Friday that gay marriage is a nationwide right, a landmark decision in one of the most keenly awaited announcements in decades and sparking scenes of jubilation. The nation's highest court, in a narrow 5-4 decision, said the US Constitution requires all states to carry out and recognize marriage between people of the same sex. AFP PHOTO/ MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 26: Same-sex marriage supporters from the Human Rights Campaign celebrate after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages nationwide on Friday, June 26, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
People shout slogans as they celebrate outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on June 26, 2015 after its historic decision on gay marriage. The US Supreme Court ruled Friday that gay marriage is a nationwide right, a landmark decision in one of the most keenly awaited announcements in decades and sparking scenes of jubilation. The nation's highest court, in a narrow 5-4 decision, said the US Constitution requires all states to carry out and recognize marriage between people of the same sex. AFP PHOTO/ MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
The crowd celebrates outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday June 26, 2015, after the court declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the US. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Barack Obama walks toward the podium before speaking in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Friday, June 26, 2015, after the Supreme Court declared that same-sex couples have the right to marry anywhere in the US. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 26: Same-sex marriage supporters rejoice after the U.S Supreme Court hands down a ruling regarding same-sex marriage June 26, 2015 outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. The high court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 26: Activists hold signs regarding same-sex marriage outside the U.S. Supreme Court June 26, 2015 in Washington, DC. The high court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Same-sex marriage supporters rejoice after the U.S Supreme Court hands down a ruling regarding same-sex marriage June 26, 2015 outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. The high court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
From left, Annie Katz of the University of Michigan, Zaria Cummings of Michigan State University, Spencer Perry of Berkeley, Calif., and Justin Maffett of Dartmouth University, celebrate outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday June 26, 2015, after the court declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the US. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Same-sex marriage supporters rejoice after the U.S Supreme Court hands down a ruling regarding same-sex marriage June 26, 2015 outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. The high court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Same-sex marriage supporters rejoice after the U.S Supreme Court hands down a ruling regarding same-sex marriage June 26, 2015 outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC. The high court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
People shout slogans as they celebrate outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on June 26, 2015 after its historic decision on gay marriage. The US Supreme Court ruled Friday that gay marriage is a nationwide right, a landmark decision in one of the most keenly awaited announcements in decades and sparking scenes of jubilation. The nation's highest court, in a narrow 5-4 decision, said the US Constitution requires all states to carry out and recognize marriage between people of the same sex. AFP PHOTO/ MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
The crowd reacts as the ruling on same-sex marriage was announced outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday June 26, 2015. The Supreme Court declared Friday that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the US. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Same-sex marriage supporters hold rainbow flags outside the U.S. Supreme Court June 26, 2015 in Washington, DC. The high court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
People wave a giant equality flag in celebration outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on June 26, 2015 after its historic decision on gay marriage. The US Supreme Court ruled Friday that gay marriage is a nationwide right, a landmark decision in one of the most keenly awaited announcements in decades and sparking scenes of jubilation. The nation's highest court, in a narrow 5-4 decision, said the US Constitution requires all states to carry out and recognize marriage between people of the same sex. AFP PHOTO/ MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Ariel Olah of Detroit, left, and her fiancee Katie Boatman, are overcome by emotion outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 26, 2015, as the ruling on same-sex marriage was announced. The court declared that same-sex couples have a right to marry anywhere in the US. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
A man holds a rainbow flag in support of same-sex marriage outside the U.S. Supreme Court June 26, 2015 in Washington, DC. The high court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Carmelita Cabello, left, and her partner of 31 year, Jaque Roberts, right, arrive at the Travis County building for a marriage license after hearing the Supreme Court ruling that grants same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide, Friday, June 26, 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Lupe Garcia, left, hugs her partner Cindy Stocking, right, at the Travis County building after hearing the Supreme Court ruling that grants same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide, Friday, June 26, 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay couples nationwide have the right to marry in a 5-4 decision. How incredible it is to be here as they announced it!
It is now clear that the challenged laws burden the liberty of same-sex couples, and it must be further acknowledged that they abridge central precepts of equality . . . Especially against a long history of disapproval of their relationships, this denial to same-sex couples of the right to marry works a grave and continuing harm. #fbf #equality #lovemustwin #freedomtomarry
People are FREAKING OUT at the Stonewall Inn! Tears, hugs, laughter. http://t.co/bC1RUfEDzk
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN - Participants celebrate at the San Francisco Pride Parade on Sunday, June 28, 2015, in San Francisco, Calif., two days after the Supreme Court's landmark decision to require that states issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. (Adm Golub/AP Images for Human Rights Campaign)
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The legality of gay marriage had been at the center of a national debate until the Supreme Court ruled in June that the U.S. Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry, handing a historic triumph to the American gay rights movement.

Despite the decision and a federal court ruling that made gay marriage legal in Alabama, Moore in January issued an administrative order to state probate judges that they should not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to court documents.

"Chief Justice Moore flagrantly disregarded and abused his authority," the complaint said.

Moore said in a statement that the commission had no authority over administrative orders or the court's ability to prohibit probate judges from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. "We intend to fight this agenda vigorously and expect to prevail," he said.

RELATED: Roy Moore through his career

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Roy Moore - Alabama
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Alabama's top judge faces ethics charges over gay-marriage order
In this photo taken on Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore poses in front the the American flag, in Montgomery, Ala. The chief justice continues to fight against gay marriage in Alabama. Moore told state probate judges to refuse the marriage licenses to gay couples, saying they weren't bound to adhere to the ruling of the federal judge who declared Alabama's gay marriage ban unconstitutional. Moore said decision legalizing gay marriage would be among the court's greatest mistakes. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
FILE -- In this Oct. 24, 2012 file photo, former Chief Justice Roy Moore poses for a photo in his Montgomery, Ala., office. The Alabama Supreme Court is divided over whether the state Legislature is acting legally by rewriting the state Constitution a few portions at a time. Moore and Justice Tom Parker have issued advisory opinions saying the article-by-article approach is not allowed by the Constitution. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
Roy Moore, candidate for Alabama Supreme Court chief justice, greets Adam DuPre', 3, of Pike Road, Ala., at his election party in Montgomery, Ala., on election night Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/David Bundy)
Former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore speaks during an interview Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011, at his Montgomery, Ala., office. Moore said he's seriously considering running again for chief justice eight years after being kicked out of the job for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument. (AP Photo/Phillip Rawls)
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore faces the media after being removed from office in Montgomery, Alabama, November 13, 2003. The nine members of Alabama's Court of the Judiciary unanimously voted to remove Moore, whose refusal to obey a U.S. order to move a Ten Commandments monument fueled a national debate over the place of God in public life. REUTERS/Bob Ealum BE/SV
Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore speaks at the Defense of the Texas Marriage Amendment Rally outside of the Texas State Capitol on Monday, March 23, 2015 in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/ Tamir Kalifa)
Members of the central Texas chapter of Concerned Women for America, a conservative Christian legislative action committee, pray while Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore speaks at the Defense of the Texas Marriage Amendment Rally outside of the Texas State Capitol on Monday, March 23, 2015 in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/ Tamir Kalifa)
A crowd listens to Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore speak at the Defense of the Texas Marriage Amendment Rally outside of the Texas State Capitol on Monday, March 23, 2015 in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/ Tamir Kalifa)
Tori Sisson, right, receives a gift of chocolate and a "No Moore," sticker, named after Roy Moore, from a supporter, Joe Cottle (not pictured) near the Montgomery County Courthouse Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore sent a letter to probate judges Sunday evening ordering them to refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)
Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court addresses a Pro-Life Mississippi and a Pastors for Life pastors luncheon in Jackson, Miss., Friday, Jan. 17, 2014. Moore told the attendees that he cannot separate his faith from his job as chief justice and continues to oppose abortion and same-sex marriage. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012 file photo, Roy Moore, candidate for Alabama Supreme Court chief justice, speaks to the audience as wife Kayla looks on at his election party in Montgomery, Ala., on election night. Chief Justice Moore, known for fighting to display the Ten Commandments in a judicial building, has written to all 50 governors urging them to support a federal constitutional amendment defining marriage as between only a man and a woman. (AP Photo/David Bundy, File)
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Moore wrote in his order that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling was at odds with a decision in March 2015 by the Alabama Supreme Court that instructed probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The conflicting opinions had resulted in "confusion and uncertainty," Moore said, with many probate judges issuing marriage licenses to gay couples while others refused to do so.

The Human Rights Campaign, the biggest U.S. gay rights organization, hailed the suspension. "Roy Moore is an embarrassment to the state of Alabama," Eva Walton Kendrick, the group's Alabama state manager, said in a statement.

Moore, a Republican, has been a hero of conservative causes before. In 2003, he was removed from office after a federal judge ruled he was placing himself above the law by refusing to take down a Ten Commandments monument.

He won the chief justice job back in 2012, vowing not to do anything to create further friction with the federal courts.

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