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Alabama judge suspended over order to deny gay couples marriage licenses

Alabama’s chief supreme court justice was suspended by a judicial oversight committee on Friday for issuing an order that required probate courts to deny applications for marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

Justice Roy S. Moore’s issued the edict in January, contradicting a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on the legality of gay marriage.

Justice Roy Moore in 2003. Photo by Mickey Welsh/Reuters

Justice Roy Moore in 2003. Photo by Mickey Welsh/Reuters

The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission formally charged Moore with breaching the state’s judicial ethics laws with the contention that he “flagrantly disregarded and abused his authority.”

The charges said probate judges could have been prosecuted if they were to follow Moore’s order, Reuters reported.

In a statement issued Friday, Moore countered that the commission did not have the authority to stop his order. “We intend to fight this agenda vigorously and expect to prevail,” he said.

The 69-year-old had previously served as the state’s chief justice in the early 2000s, before his removal from office in 2003 for refusing to follow a federal order to remove a large Ten Commandments monument from Alabama’s judicial building.

Moore regained the position in 2012.

The state’s Court of the Judiciary will decide if Moore violated judicial ethics for the more recent charge, which could lead to his removal from office, according to the Associated Press.

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