Roy Moore, the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, was suspended on Friday for opposing the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which struck down state laws defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman.
The Alabama Judiciary Inquiry Commission levied six charges against Mr. Moore, alleging he violated ethical rules by attempting to stop probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The complaint prompted an immediate suspension, and the chief justice now faces a potential hearing before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary.
Mr. Moore on Friday said the JIC has no authority to levy the charges.
“The Judicial Inquiry Commission has no authority over the Administrative Orders of the Chief Justice of Alabama or the legal injunction of the Alabama Supreme Court prohibiting judges from issuing same-sex marriage licenses,” Mr. Moore said in a statement.
“The JIC has chosen to listen to people like Ambrosia Starling, a professed transvestite, and other gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals, as well as organizations which support their agenda,” he said.
“We intend to fight this agenda vigorously and expect to prevail.”
Gay-rights groups praised the JIC for taking the action against Mr. Moore, calling the chief justice an “embarrassment to the state of Alabama.”
“Moore’s suspension is welcome news, and we expect the Ethics Commission will permanently throw him out of office after reviewing his pattern of intentionally flouting the laws he vowed to uphold,” Human Rights Campaign State Manager Eva Walton Kendrick said in a statement.
Following the Obergefell decision, Mr. Moore wrote a letter to Republican Governor Robert Bentley urging him to ignore the “judicial tyranny.”
He also issued an order last January saying Alabama probate judges have a “ministerial duty not to issue any marriage licenses contrary” to state law and a constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage.
Mr. Moore was previously removed from office in 2003 for refusing to enforce a federal order removing a Ten Commandments monument in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building. He was reelected to his post in 2012.