A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore attempting to overturn his suspension while an ethics complaint plays out.
In the ruling handed down on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Harold Albritton said he must not interfere with state proceedings and therefore abstained from deciding whether the state constitution’s automatic removal provision is permissible.
The provision automatically removes judges from the bench when complaints against them are filed by the state’s Judicial Inquiry Commission.
Mr. Moore sued the JIC in May, arguing the suspension unconstitutionally deprived him of his due-process rights.
He was charged by the commission with violating judicial ethics earlier that month, stemming from his dispute over the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which created a constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, which represented Mr. Moore, said striking down the automatic removal rule would have still allowed the state’s ethics complaint to move forward.
“Alabama’s automatic removal provision goes against the assumption in law that a person is innocent until proven otherwise,” Mr. Staver said in a statement. “This provision should be struck down.”
Alabama is the only U.S. state with a provision automatically removing judges from the bench when ethics complaints are filed against them. Mr. Staver said that Liberty Counsel is weighing whether to appeal the ruling.
Mr. Moore will go before the JIC in a hearing on Monday addressing the charges.