Alabama Chief Justice suspended over gay marriage stance

Sept 30 (Reuters) - The chief justice of Alabama's Supreme Court, charged with defying federal court rulings that permit same-sex marriage, was suspended on Friday for a second time after being found guilty of violating judicial ethics, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary ruled.

Chief Justice Roy Moore had gone on trial Wednesday on charges that he violated Alabama's canons of judicial ethics with a Jan. 6 order that said probate judges were bound by state law banning gay marriage.

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The Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended Moore, effective immediately, without pay for the remainder of his term, saying in a ruling that it had found "clear and convincing evidence" of ethical violations.

Moore's attorney said in a statement that he planned to appeal the decision to the AlabamaSupreme Court.

The judiciary court's decision said Moore's Jan. 6 order to the probate judges showed "disregard for binding federal law."

More on the debate in the state

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Alabama gay marriage
MONTGOMERY, AL - FEBRUARY 21: People rally against same sex marriage on the steps of the capitol in Montgomery, AL on February 21, 2015. The Alabama capitol was the destination of the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965 that helped lead to the Voting Rights Act. (Photo by Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore made an 11th-Hour move in the ongoing legal battle regarding same-sex marriage in Alabama. Moore issued an order late Sunday night telling state probate judges to refuse to issue or recognize marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

This followed the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark June 2015 decision giving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry in all 50 states.

The chief justice, an outspoken opponent of same-sex unions, has insisted there was uncertainty among the state's probate judges after conflicting opinions on gay marriage from state and federal courts.

"To suspend Chief Justice Moore for the duration of his term is a miscarriage of justice and we will appeal this case to the Alabama Supreme Court. This case is far from over," said Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, which is representing Moore, in a statement.

The ruling also noted Moore's history with the state's judiciary court. In 2003, Moore was removed from the bench for defying a federal order to take down a Ten Commandments Monument he had installed in the state's judicial building. Voters re-elected him as chief justice in 2012.

The charges against him came after a series of ethics complaints filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has said Moore should be removed from office.

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