Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's defiance of federal court rulings on gay marriage violated judicial ethics, a disciplinary court ruled on Friday before suspending him for the rest of his term. The punishment effectively removes Moore from office without the nine-member Alabama Court of the Judiciary officially ousting him, the AP reports. Given his age of 69, he will not be able to run for chief justice again under state law. Moore was found to have encouraged probate judges to deny marriage licenses to gay couples six months after the US Supreme Court ruled that everyone has a fundamental right to marry in all 50 states. Moore vehemently denied that his administrative order was an act of defiance and said his personal beliefs had nothing to do with it.
The same panel removed the outspoken Republican in 2003 because he refused to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building. Voters later re-elected him as chief justice after he lost a race for governor. "We are here 13 years later because the Chief Justice learned nothing from his first removal. He continues to defy the law," John Carroll, a lawyer representing the commission, argued Wednesday in Moore's judicial court hearing. This time, Moore sent an administrative order to the state's 68 probate judges, maintaining that the Alabama Supreme Court's gay marriage ban remained in "full force and effect" despite the ruling from the nation's highest court. (Read more Alabama stories.)