Roy Moore

Last updated on 19 November 2017

Roy Stewart Moore (born February 11, 1947) is an American politician and former Alabama state judge known for being twice elected to and twice removed from the Alabama Supreme Court. He also is the founder and president of the Foundation for Moral Law. Moore is the Republican nominee in the 2017 special election to fill the United States Senate seat vacated by Jeff Sessions and currently held by Luther Strange.

Moore was elected to the position of Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court in 2001, but was removed from his position in November 2003 by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary for refusing to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments commissioned by him from the Alabama Judicial Building, despite orders to do so by a federal court. Moore twice sought the Republican nomination for the governorship of Alabama (in 2006 and 2010), but lost in the primaries. Moore was again elected Chief Justice in 2013, but was suspended in May 2016, for directing probate judges to continue to enforce the state's ban on same-sex marriage despite the fact that this had been deemed unconstitutional.

Following an unsuccessful appeal, Moore resigned in April 2017, and announced that he would run for the United States Senate seat that was vacated by Jeff Sessions upon Sessions's confirmation as Attorney General of the United States.[1][2] During the Senate race, claims surfaced that while in his 30s, Moore had allegedly pursued numerous teenage girls and sexually assaulted some of them, with one girl as young as 14.[3] Moore denied the initial allegations of sexual assault[4], but did not deny approaching or dating teenagers above the age of consent (16). There was a following allegation of groping a 28-year old woman in 1991.[3] Independent witnesses confirmed that Moore had a reputation for coming on to teenage girls.[5][4][6] The controversy led many Republicans to call for Moore to drop out of the race.

Moore is an advocate of far-right politics.[7][8][9] He earned significant national attention and controversy over his strongly anti-homosexual, anti-Muslim, and far-right views, his belief that Christianity should order public policy,[10][11] as well as his past ties to neo-Confederates and white nationalist groups.[12][13][14][15][16] Moore was a leading voice in the birther movement, which promoted the debunked conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.[17][18] Moore also drew controversy for failing to disclose that he paid himself and his family over $1 million from his charity, Foundation for Moral Law.[19]

Roy Moore
Judge Roy Moore.jpg
Roy Moore in 2011
28th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama
In office
January 15, 2013 – April 26, 2017
Suspended: May 6, 2016 – April 26, 2017
Preceded by Chuck Malone
Succeeded by Lyn Stuart
In office
January 15, 2001 – November 13, 2003
Preceded by Perry O. Hooper Sr.
Succeeded by Gorman Houston (Acting)
Judge for the Sixteenth Circuit Court of Alabama
In office
Appointed by H. Guy Hunt
Preceded by Julius Swann
Succeeded by William Millican
Assistant District Attorney for Etowah County, Alabama
In office
Personal details
Born Roy Stewart Moore
(1947-02-11) February 11, 1947
Gadsden, Alabama, U.S.
Political party Republican (1992–present)
Other political
Democratic (before 1992)
Spouse(s) Kayla Kisor (m. 1985)
Children 4
Education United States Military Academy (BS)
University of Alabama School of Law (JD)
Website Campaign website
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1969–1974
Rank Captain
Unit 504th Military Police Battalion
Battles/wars Vietnam War

Early life

Education and military service

Moore was born in Gadsden, Alabama, the seat of Etowah County, to construction worker Roy Baxter Moore, who died in 1967, and the former Evelyn Stewart. His parents met and married after his father, who served during World War II, was discharged from the United States Army. Moore was the oldest of five children. He had two brothers and two sisters.[20]

In 1954, the Moores relocated to Houston, Texas, the site of a postwar building boom. After about four years, they returned to Alabama, then moved to Pennsylvania, and then returned permanently to Alabama. Moore's father worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority, first building dams and later the Anniston Army Depot. Moore attended his freshman year of high school at Gallant near Gadsden, and transferred to Etowah County High School for his final three years, graduating in 1965.[20]

Moore was admitted to the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, on the recommendation of outgoing Democratic U.S. Representative Albert Rains, and after confirmation of that nomination by incoming Republican Representative James D. Martin of Gadsden. He graduated in 1969 with a Bachelor of Science degree. With the Vietnam War underway, Moore served in several posts as a military police officer, including Fort Benning, Georgia, and Illesheim, Germany before being deployed to the Republic of Vietnam. Serving as the commander of 188th Military Police Company of the 504th Military Police Battalion,[21] Moore was perceived to be reckless, but very strict. He insisted his troops salute him on the battlefield, against his training, as such recognition facilitates an officer being targeted by an enemy.[22] Some of his soldiers gave him the derogatory nickname "Captain America", due to his attitude toward discipline. This role earned him enemies, and in his autobiography he recalls sleeping on sandbags to avoid a grenade or bomb being tossed under his cot, as many of his men had threatened him with fragging.[20]

Moore was discharged from the United States Army as a captain in 1974, and was admitted to the University of Alabama School of Law that same year. Professors and fellow students held him in low regard due to his incapacity for keen analysis.[22] He graduated in 1977 with a Juris Doctor degree and returned to Gadsden to begin private practice with a focus on personal injury and insurance cases.

Elections and travels

Moore soon moved to the district attorney's office, working as the first full-time prosecutor in Etowah County. During his tenure there, Moore was investigated by the state bar for "suspect conduct" after convening a grand jury to examine what he perceived to have been funding shortages in the sheriff's office. Several weeks after the state bar investigation was dismissed as unfounded, Moore quit his prosecuting position to run as a Democrat for the county's circuit-court judge seat in 1982. The election was bitter, with Moore alleging that cases were being delayed in exchange for payoffs. The allegations were never substantiated. Moore overwhelmingly lost the Democratic runoff primary to fellow attorney Donald Stewart, whom Moore described as "an honorable man for whom I have much respect, (who) eventually became a close friend".[20] A second bar complaint against Moore followed, which was dismissed as unfounded. Moore left Gadsden shortly thereafter to live for a year in Australia.[23][24]

Moore returned to Gadsden again in 1985. He ran in 1986 for Etowah County's district attorney position against fellow Democrat Jimmy Hedgspeth. Losing once more, Moore returned to private practice in the city. In 1985, he married Kayla Kisor, 14 years his junior.[25] In 1992, Moore switched his affiliation to the GOP.

Circuit Judge (1992–2000)


In 1992, Etowah County Circuit Judge Julius Swann died in office. Republican Governor H. Guy Hunt was charged with making a temporary appointment until the next election. Moore's name was floated by some of his associates, and a background check was initiated with several state and county agencies, including the Etowah County district attorney's office. Moore's former political opponent Jimmy Hedgspeth, who still helmed the D.A.'s office, recommended Moore despite personal reservations, and Moore was installed in the position he had failed to win in 1982. "The impossible had happened!" Moore wrote afterward. "God had given me something that I had not been able to obtain through my own efforts."[26] Judge Moore ran as a Republican in the 1994 Etowah County election and was elected to the circuit judge seat (6 year term) with 62% of the vote. He was the first county-wide Republican to win since Reconstruction.

Early prayer/Ten Commandments controversy

When Moore's tenure as circuit judge began, he brought his wooden Ten Commandments plaque with him, hanging it on the walls of his courtroom behind his bench. Moore told the Montgomery Advertiser that his intention in hanging the plaque was to fill up the bare space on the courtroom walls and to indicate the importance of the Ten Commandments. He states that it was not his intention to generate controversy; still, as he told the Atlantic, he understood that the potential for controversy was there, but "I wanted to establish the moral foundation of our law."[27]

Soon after his appointment, when Moore presided over a case where two male strippers (known professionally as "Silk" and "Satin") were charged with murdering a drug addict, the attorney for the defendants objected to the display. This drew the attention of critics, who also objected to Moore's practice of opening court sessions with a prayer beseeching Divine Guidance for jurors in their deliberations. In at least one instance, Moore asked a clergyman to lead the court's jury pool in prayer. The local branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sent a letter in June 1993 with the threat of a lawsuit if such prayers did not cease.[26]

On June 20, 1994, the ACLU sent a representative to Moore's courtroom to observe and record the pre-session prayer. Though the organization did not immediately file suit, Moore decried the action as an "act of intimidation" in a post-trial press conference. The incident drew additional attention to Moore just as he was campaigning to hold onto his circuit court seat. In that year's election, Moore won the seat in a landslide victory over local attorney Keith Pitts, who had unsuccessfully prosecuted the "Silk and Satin" murder case.[28]


In March 1995, the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Moore, stating that the pre-session prayers and the Ten Commandments display were both unconstitutional. This original lawsuit was eventually dismissed for technical reasons, but Governor Fob James instructed state Attorney General Bill Pryor to file suit in Montgomery County in support of Moore. The case ended up before state Circuit Judge Charles Price, who in 1996 declared the prayers unconstitutional but initially allowed the Ten Commandments plaque to remain on the courtroom walls.[29]

Immediately after the ruling, Moore held a press conference vowing to defy the ruling against pre-session prayers and affirming a religious intent in displaying the plaque. Critics responded by asking Price to reconsider his previous ruling, and the judge issued a new ruling requiring the Ten Commandments plaque to be removed in ten days. Moore appealed Price's decision and kept the plaque up; ten days later the Alabama Supreme Court issued a temporary stay against the ruling. The Court never ruled in the case, throwing it out for technical reasons in 1998.[26]

Chief Justice, Alabama Supreme Court (2001-2003) and (2012-2016)

Campaign and election

In late 1999, the American Family Association began working to draft Moore into the race for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, when incumbent Republican Perry O. Hooper, Sr., of Montgomery announced that he would not seek reelection. Moore said that he was hesitant to make the statewide race because he had "absolutely no funds" and three other candidates, particularly Associate Justice Harold See, were well-financed.[20]

Nevertheless, on December 7, 1999, Moore announced from his Etowah County courtroom that he would enter the race with the hope of returning "God to our public life and restore the moral foundation of our law." His campaign, centered on religious issues, arguing that Christianity's declining influence "corresponded directly with school violence, homosexuality, and crime".[26]

Associate Justice Harold See was the heavy favorite to win the Republican nomination because of his support from the state business community and the party hierarchy, including Chief Justice Hooper. However, as Moore made headway in state polls, See elicited the help of Republican strategist Karl Rove, advisor to Texas Governor and future President George W. Bush. Despite Rove's support and significantly more campaign funding, See lost the primary to Moore. Judge Moore also beat two other opponents, Criminal Appeals Judge Pam Baschab, and Jefferson County Presiding Circuit Judge Wayne Thorn, in the Republican Primary—without a runoff—garnering over 50% of the statewide primary vote. Judge Moore then easily defeated Democratic contender Sharon Yates in November's general election with over 60% of the vote.

Moore was sworn in as Chief Justice on January 15, 2001. Republican former U.S. Representative James D. Martin, who had appointed Moore to West Point years earlier, was among the dignitaries in attendance. On taking the position, Moore said that he had "come to realize the real meaning of the First Amendment and its relationship to the God on whom the oath was based. My mind had been opened to the spiritual war occurring in our state and our nation that was slowly removing the knowledge of that relationship between God and law".

I pledged to support not only the U.S. Constitution, but the Alabama Constitution as well, which provided in its preamble that the state 'established justice' by 'invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God.' The connection between God and our law could not be more clear ...[20]

Ten Commandments monument controversy

Ten Commandments monument in Alabama.jpg
The Ten Commandments monument in the Alabama Supreme Court building, erected in 2001

Construction and installation

A month after his election, Moore began making plans for a larger monument to the Ten Commandments, reasoning that the Alabama Supreme Court building required something grander than a wooden plaque. His final design involved a 5,280 pound (2,400 kg) granite block, three feet wide by three feet deep by four feet tall, covered with quotes from the Declaration of Independence, the national anthem, and various founding fathers.[30] The crowning element would be two large carved tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments. High-grade granite from Vermont was ordered and shipped, and Moore found benefactors and a sculptor to complete the job.

On the evening of July 31, 2001, despite some initial installation difficulties and concerns regarding structural support for the monument's weight, Moore had the completed monument transported to the state judicial building and installed in the central rotunda. The installation was filmed, and videotapes of the event were sold by Coral Ridge Ministries, an evangelical media outlet in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, which later used proceeds from the sales of the film to underwrite Moore's ensuing legal expenses. Coral Ridge was the operation of the late creationist televangelist Reverend D. James Kennedy,[31] a staunch Moore supporter.[32]

The next morning, Moore held a press conference in the central rotunda to officially unveil the monument. In a speech following the unveiling, Moore declared, "Today a cry has gone out across our land for the acknowledgment of that God upon whom this nation and our laws were founded... May this day mark the restoration of the moral foundation of law to our people and the return to the knowledge of God in our land."[33]

Federal lawsuit

On October 30, 2001, the ACLU of Alabama, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and the Southern Poverty Law Center were among groups that filed suit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, asking that the monument be removed because it "sends a message to all who enter the State Judicial Building that the government encourages and endorses the practice of religion in general and Judeo-Christianity in particular".[34]

The trial, titled Glassroth v. Moore, began on October 15, 2002. Evidence for the plaintiffs included testimony that lawyers of different religious beliefs had changed their work practices, including routinely avoiding visiting the court building to avoid passing by the monument, and testimony that the monument created a religious atmosphere, with many people using the area for prayer.[35]

Moore argued that he would not remove the monument, as doing so would violate his oath of office:

[The monument] serves to remind the Appellate Courts and judges of the Circuit and District Court of this State and members of the bar who appear before them, as well as the people of Alabama who visit the Alabama Judicial Building, of the truth stated in the Preamble to the Alabama Constitution that in order to establish justice we must invoke 'the favor and guidance of almighty God'.[30]

On this note, Moore said that the Ten Commandments are the "moral foundation" of U.S. law, stating that in order to restore this foundation, "we must first recognize the source from which all morality springs... [by] recogniz[ing] the sovereignty of God." He added that the addition of the monument to the state judiciary building marked "the beginning of the restoration of the moral foundation of law to our people" and "a return to the knowledge of God in our land".[30]

Additionally, Moore acknowledged an explicit theistic intent in placing the monument, agreeing that the monument "reflects the sovereignty of God over the affairs of men" and "acknowledge[s] God's overruling power over the affairs of men".[36] However, in Moore's view this did not violate the doctrine of separation of church and state; as the presiding judge later summarized it, Moore argued that "the Judeo-Christian God reigned over both the church and the state in this country, and that both owed allegiance to that God", although they must keep their affairs separate.[30]

Judgment and appeal

On November 18, 2002, federal U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued his ruling declaring that the monument violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and was thus unconstitutional:

If all Chief Justice Moore had done were to emphasize the Ten Commandments' historical and educational importance... or their importance as a model code for good citizenship ... this court would have a much different case before it. But the Chief Justice did not limit himself to this; he went far, far beyond. He installed a two-and-a-half ton monument in the most prominent place in a government building, managed with dollars from all state taxpayers, with the specific purpose and effect of establishing a permanent recognition of the 'sovereignty of God,' the Judeo-Christian God, over all citizens in this country, regardless of each taxpaying citizen's individual personal beliefs or lack thereof. To this, the Establishment Clause says no."[30]

Judge Thompson's decision mandated that Moore remove the monument from the state judicial building by January 3, 2003, but stayed this order on December 23, 2002, after Moore appealed the decision to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. This appeal was argued on June 4, 2003, before a three-judge panel in Atlanta, Georgia. On July 1, 2003, the panel issued a ruling upholding the lower court's decision, agreeing that "the monument fails two of Lemon's three prongs. It violates the Establishment Clause." Additionally, the court noted that different religious traditions assign different wordings of the Ten Commandments, meaning that "choosing which version of the Ten Commandments to display can have religious endorsement implications".[36]

In response to the appeals court's decision, Judge Thompson lifted his earlier stay on August 5, 2003, requiring Moore to have the monument removed from public areas of the state judicial building by August 20.[37]

Protests and monument removal

Moore rally.jpg
Rally before the Alabama State Capitol, August 16, 2003.

On August 14, Moore announced his intention to defy Judge Thompson's order to have the monument removed. Two days later, large rallies in support of Moore and the Ten Commandments monument formed in front of the judicial building, featuring speakers such as Alan Keyes, the Reverend Jerry Falwell, and Moore himself. The crowd peaked at an estimated count of 4,000 that day,[38] and anywhere from several hundred to over a thousand protesters remained through the end of August.

The time limit for removal expired on August 20, with the monument still in place in the building's rotunda. As specified in Judge Thompson's order, the state of Alabama faced fines of $5,000 a day until the monument was removed. In response, the eight other members of the Alabama Supreme Court intervened on August 21, unanimously overruled Moore, and ordered the removal of the monument.[39]

Moore said that Thompson, "fearing that I would not obey his order, decided to threaten other state officials and force them to remove the monument if I did not do so. A threat of heavy fines was his way of coercing obedience to that order," an action that Moore sees as a violation of the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution.[20]

On August 27, the monument was moved to a non-public side room in the judicial building.[40] The monument was not immediately removed from the building for several reasons—pending legal hearings, the monument's weight, worries that the monument could break through the floor if it was taken outside intact, and a desire to avoid confrontation with protesters massed outside the structure. The monument was not actually removed from the state judicial building until July 19, 2004.[41]

Removal from office

On August 22, 2003, two days after the deadline for the Ten Commandments monument's removal had passed, the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) filed a complaint with the Alabama Court of the Judiciary (COJ), a panel of judges, lawyers and others appointed variously by judges, legal leaders, the governor and the lieutenant governor. The complaint effectively suspended Moore from the Chief Justice position pending a hearing by the COJ.[42]

The COJ ethics hearing was held on November 12, 2003. Moore repeated his earlier sentiment that "to acknowledge God cannot be a violation of the Canons of Ethics. Without God there can be no ethics." He also acknowledged that he would repeat his defiance of the court order if given another opportunity to do so, and that if he returned to office, "I certainly wouldn't leave [the monument] in a closet, shrouded from the public." In closing arguments, the Assistant Attorney General said Moore's defiance, left unchecked, "undercuts the entire workings of the judicial system... What message does that send to the public, to other litigants? The message it sends is: If you don't like a court order, you don't have to follow it."[43] Moore had previously stated his belief that the order was unlawful, and that compliance with such an order was not an enforceable mandate.

The next day, the COJ issued a unanimous opinion ruling that "Chief Justice Moore has violated the Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics as alleged by the JIC in its complaint." The COJ had several disciplinary options, including censure or suspension without pay, but because Moore's responses had indicated he would defy any similar court orders in the future, the COJ concluded that "under these circumstances, there is no penalty short of removal from office that would resolve this issue."[44] Moore was immediately removed from his post.

Moore appealed the COJ's ruling to the Supreme Court of Alabama on December 10, 2003. A special panel of retired judges and justices was randomly selected to hear the case. Moore argued that the COJ did not consider the underlying legality of the federal courts' order that the monument be removed from the courthouse. The Alabama Supreme Court rejected this argument, saying that the COJ did not have the authority to overrule the federal courts, only to determine whether Moore violated the Canons of Judicial Ethics. Therefore, the Court reasoned, it was enough to show that a procedurally-valid order was in place against Moore. Moore also argued that the COJ had imposed a religious test on him to hold his office, and that the COJ's actions had violated his own rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.[45]

The Supreme Court of Alabama rejected each of these arguments as well, and ruled on April 30, 2004 that the COJ had acted properly. The court also upheld the sanction of removal as appropriate.[45]

Return to the bench

Moore sought to return to the bench, and in the March 2012 Republican primary for chief justice of Alabama, Moore won the Republican nomination, defeating the sitting Chief Justice Chuck Malone (who had been appointed by Governor Bentley the previous year) and Mobile County Circuit Judge Charles Graddick.[46][47]

In the November 2012 general election, Moore defeated the Democratic nominee, Jefferson County Circuit Judge Bob Vance, and returned to the bench.[48] Moore received 913,021 votes, to Vance's 850,816 votes.[49]

Same-sex marriage

On January 28, 2015, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a judicial ethics complaint against Moore, stating that he had publicly commented on pending same-sex marriage cases and encouraged state officials and judges to ignore federal court rulings overturning bans on same-sex marriage.[50][51]

Moore issued an order to probate judges and their employees on February 8, the day before a federal court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in Alabama was set to take effect, ordering them to disregard the ruling and enforce the state's ban under threat of legal action by the governor.[52] On February 9, after the United States Supreme Court allowed the federal court ruling to take effect, probate judges in Birmingham, Montgomery, and Huntsville disobeyed Moore and issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples.[53]

On January 6, 2016, after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges the previous June, Moore issued an administrative order to lower court judges stating, "until further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court, the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court that Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act remain in full force and effect."[54]

2016 suspension from the bench and resignation

On May 6, 2016, the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC) forwarded a list of six charges of ethical violations by Moore to the Alabama Court of the Judiciary.[55] Moore was suspended from the Alabama Supreme Court pending trial and ruling. Moore faced removal from office over the charges, which were more serious than those which removed him from office in 2003.[56][57] The JIC's complaint charged Moore with violating the Alabama Canon of Judicial Ethics by:[55]

  1. disregarding a federal injunction.
  2. demonstrated unwillingness to follow clear law.
  3. abuse of administrative authority.
  4. substituting his judgment for the judgement of the entire Alabama Supreme Court, including failure to abstain from public comment about a pending proceeding in his own court.
  5. interference with legal process and remedies in the United States District Court and/or Alabama Supreme Court related to proceedings in which Alabama probate judges were involved.
  6. failure to recuse himself from pending proceedings in the Alabama Supreme Court after making public comment and placing his impartiality into question.

On May 27, Moore filed a federal lawsuit against the JIC (Moore v. Judicial Inquiry Commission), alleging that his automatic suspension was unconstitutional.[58][59] On August 4, the federal district court dismissed Moore's suit, ruling that under the abstention doctrine, federal courts generally do not interfere with ongoing state court proceedings.[60][61]

Suspension by the Court of the Judiciary

In June 2016, Moore filed a motion to dismiss the JIC proceedings, arguing, among other things, that the JIC and Alabama Court of the Judiciary lacked jurisdiction to review Administrative Orders that he issued and that the orders of the Alabama Supreme Court were still in effect from the Alabama Policy Institute proceedings prohibiting the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses by probate judges in Alabama, despite the rulings in Obergefell v. Hodges issued by the U.S. Supreme Court, Searcy v. Strange, Strawser v. Strange, and the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, which held that the orders were abrogated by Obergefell.[55][62][63][64][65] The Court of the Judiciary set a hearing date for the motion to dismiss and ruled that it would be treated as a motion for summary judgment pertaining to the charges filed by the JIC.[66][67]

The Human Rights Campaign, an LGBT rights group, responded: "It is clear that Roy Moore not only believes he is above the law, he believes he is above judicial ethics... Moore was tasked with upholding the law of the land when marriage equality was affirmed by the Supreme Court of the United States, and he defied that task, in the process harming loving, committed same-sex couples across Alabama for his own personal, discriminatory reasons."[68]

In July 2016, the JIC filed a cross-motion for summary judgment, asking the Court of the Judiciary to issue summary judgment removing Moore from the bench. Attorneys for the JIC wrote: "Because the chief justice has proven—and promised—that he will not change his behavior, he has left this Court with no choice but to remove him from office to preserve the integrity, independence, impartiality of Alabama's judiciary and the citizens who depend on it for justice."[69][70][71] In their reply, Moore (through his attorneys at Liberty Counsel) denied that Moore had directed Alabama's probate judges to disobey an injunction issued by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, asserting that the orders of the Alabama Supreme Court, which required Alabama's probate judges to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, were still in effect. Moore argued that his January 6 Administrative Order was mischaracterized by the JIC, despite the fact that the January 6 order stated "... Until further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court, the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court that Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act remain in full force and effect."[72][73][74][75]

At an August 2010 hearing before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary on the motions to dismiss and for summary judgment, Moore's attorneys continued to assert that Moore did not order probate judges to disobey the injunction issued by the U.S. District Court or the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. The attorney for the JIC responded that Moore's argument "defies common sense" and said that Moore was defying a federal court order, just as he did in 2003, and should be immediately removed from office.[76][77] The Alabama Court of the Judiciary subsequently denied both Moore's motion and the JIC motion and set a trial date.[78]

On September 30, 2016, Moore was found guilty of all six charges and suspended for the remainder of his term, slated to end in 2019.[79] In its 50-page order, the Court of the Judiciary stated it did not find credible Moore's claim that the purpose for the January 6 order was "merely to provide a 'status update' to the state's probate judges".[79] The ruling meant that Moore would not receive a salary paid for the remainder of his term. Moore also was ordered to pay court costs. The ruling effectively ended Moore's Supreme Court career, as he will not be eligible for reelection in 2018 because he will be above the maximum age (in Alabama, candidates for the Court must be 69 years of age or younger).[80][81]

Appeal to the Alabama Supreme Court and resignation

In October 2016, Moore filed a notice of appeal with the Court of the Judiciary appealing his suspension and the final judgment to the Alabama Supreme Court. Among other claims, Moore contended that neither the JIC nor the COJ had jurisdiction to investigate and punish him for his issuance of the Administrative Order of January 6, 2016; that the six charges against him had not been proven by clear and convincing evidence, and that by "suspending him" without pay for the remainder of his term, the COJ had effectively removed him from office without unanimous agreement of the COJ, as required under Alabama law.[82][83][84][85] Pending the appeal, Moore refused to clean out his office.[86]

The Alabama Supreme Court randomly selected seven retired judges to review the appeal of Moore's suspension,[87][88][89] Governor Robert Bentley issued an executive order formally appointing the special Supreme Court of these seven retired justices to hear Moore's appeal from the decision of the COJ that suspended him from the bench for the remainder of his term.[90]

In December 2016, Moore—represented by the group Liberty Counsel—filed his appeal brief with the special Alabama Supreme Court.[91][92][93][94][95] Eight current and retired Alabama judges filed an amicus brief in support of Moore, asserting in their filings that Moore's suspension was, in fact, a removal from office and contrary to Alabama law since it required unanimous agreement of the COJ, despite the fact the COJ did unanimously agree in their final judgment to suspend Moore for the remainder of his term.[96][97]

At Moore's request,[98] oral argument was canceled to speed up the proceedings, and the special Supreme Court agreed to rule on the case based on the written submissions of the parties.[99][100][101]

On April 20, the special Supreme Court upheld Moore's suspension.[102] In its opinion, the special Supreme Court ruled that all of the JIC's charges against Moore were supported by clear and convincing evidence. The Court also ruled that it did not have authority to rescind the sanctions imposed on Moore because the charges were amply supported by clear and convincing evidence, and that the JIC was unanimous in their decision to suspend Moore for the remainder of his term.[103]

Six days following the court's ruling, Moore resigned from the Alabama Supreme Court and announced he would be running for the United States Senate.[104][1][2]


Moore wrote weekly columns for the far-right website WorldNetDaily from 2006 to 2009.[105][106]

Sexual abuse allegations

Sexual abuse allegations surfaced during Moore's general election campaign for the U.S. Senate when at least three women described an unwanted sexual advance or assault by Moore when they were aged 14 to 28.[3] Multiple other women described him pursuing a romantic relationship with them when they were as young as 16, while he was in his 30s.[5][107] While denying allegations of sexual assault of the 14-year old and the 16-year old,[3] he did not dispute his having approached or dating teenagers over the age of 16.[4] Independent witnesses confirmed that Moore had a reputation for coming on to teenage girls.[5][4][6] The age of consent in Alabama was and remains 16.[108][109][110][111][112][113][114]

Leigh Corfman said that Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her in 1979, when she was 14 and he was 32, after Moore had introduced himself to her and her mother outside the courthouse where he worked. In the Washington Post report, Corfman's mother confirmed the initial meeting with Moore, and Corfman's friends recalled her talking about Moore's sexual abuse.[5] In response, Moore said he had "never known" Corfman and "never had any contact with her".[115]

Beverly Young Nelson said she had received unwanted attention from Moore when she was 15 years old, and said that, in December 1977 or January 1978[116] when she was 16, Moore sexually assaulted her. She said that when she fought him off, he eventually gave up, but told her, "You're just a child, I'm the district attorney. If you tell anyone about this no one will ever believe you."[117][118] Moore denied Nelson's accusations saying they're "absolutely false", and "I don't even know the woman."[119]

The initial allegations included statements by three other women who said Moore pursued relationships with them when they were 16 to 18 years old. One of them alleged Moore had ordered alcohol for her though at 18, she was younger than the legal drinking age of 19.[5] Moore acknowledged knowing two of these women, saying he remembered two of these two women "as a good girl". Regarding the claim of ordering alcohol for her when she was a minor, Moore issued a denial: "As I recall, she was 19 or older".[115]

Later, in an account confirmed by a co-worker, another woman said Moore started pursuing her when she was around 18, which included him calling her school to ask her out, and visiting Sears, the store where she worked.[120] When she eventually went on a date with Moore, he forcefully kissed her as she was about to leave, which scared her.[120]

A former colleague of Moore from 1982 to 1985, as well as multiple current and former residents of Etowah County, have recounted knowledge or hearing stories of Moore's propensity to proposition high school girls, which included him regularly hanging out at the local Gadsden Mall.[121] Multiple locals recounted having heard that Moore had been banned from the Gadsden Mall due to his pursuits of teenage girls there.[122]

Tina Johnson alleged that when she was 28 in 1991, she had visited Moore (now married) in his law office for a legal matter. She said Moore flirted with her, asked questions about her young daughters, which made her uncomfortable, and finally he "grabbed" her buttocks as she left.[123]

Foundation for Moral Law

Moore founded the nonprofit Christian legal organization Foundation for Moral Law in 2002.[124] Moore's wife, Kayla, is the president of the Foundation for Moral Law.[125]

In 2005, Moore's Foundation for Moral Law accepted a $1,000 contribution from a neo-Nazi organization founded by Willis Carto, a prominent Holocaust denier. The donation attracted attention during Moore's 2017 campaign for a Senate seat.[126][127][128]

Undisclosed salary payments

Moore publicly said that he did not draw a "regular salary" from the organization. In October 2017, however, The Washington Post reported that Moore had arranged an annual salary of $180,000 for himself from the foundation.[19] From 2007 to 2012, he collected more than $1 million, a number that far surpasses what the nonprofit declared in its public tax filings.[19] Furthermore, The Washington Post reported that Moore arranged the salary and that, in 2012 when the charity could not pay his full salary, Moore received a note promising that he would get the salary in back pay or a stake in the assets of the foundation.[19] The foundation also paid for Moore's health-care benefits, travel expenses, and bodyguard, and the foundation's website has regularly promoted Moore's speaking arrangements and book.[19] Furthermore, the foundation employed Moore's wife and at least two of Moore's children.[19] The Washington Post also noted that there was considerable overlap between the charity and Moore's political activities, with previous top officials of the charity leading Moore's 2017 Senate campaign and with the charity using the same fundraising firm as Moore's campaigns.[19]

The IRS warned the foundation about discrepancies in its tax filings in 2013, saying that the issues "could jeopardize your exempt status".[19] A number of charity and tax law experts have said that the foundation's activities "raised questions about compliance with IRS rules, including prohibitions on the use of a charity for the private benefit or enrichment of an individual".[19] Additional reporting by The Washington Post that October found that the $498,000 that Moore was guaranteed in back pay was not declared to the IRS; tax experts say that it should have been and that Moore would have had to pay more than $100,000 in federal tax.[129]

Election issues and campaigns


Moore considered running for the nomination of the Constitution Party in the 2004 presidential election.[130] Despite encouragement from several corners, Moore did not pursue the nomination.[131]

In 2004, along with Herb Titus, Moore was an original drafter of the Constitution Restoration Act,[132] which sought to remove federal courts' jurisdiction over a government official or entity's "acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government", and provided for the impeachment of judges who failed to do so. The bill was introduced in both houses of Congress in 2004 and then reintroduced in 2005, but languished in committee both times.


In October 2005, Moore announced that he would run against Governor Bob Riley in the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary.[133] Moore's campaign relied largely on his popularity among Christian right voters.[133][134] However, Moore consistently performed poorly in polling and in fundraising.[134]

In the June 2006 primary, Riley won the primary, 306,665 (66.6 percent) to 153,354 (33.34 percent).[135] Following such a major defeat, Moore accused the chair of the state's Republican Party of bias towards Riley and called on her to resign; he also criticized President Bush for praising Riley's administration. His criticism of the state Republican Party was so harsh that he eventually had to call a press conference to quell rumors that he would run as an independent if he lost the Republican primary.[136] In his concession speech, Moore told supporters that "God's will has been done." Moore did not call Riley to concede and refused to support Riley in the general election because of Riley's acceptance of campaign contributions from political action committees.[136]


Roy Moore for Governor.jpg
Roy Moore campaign sign, 2010

In 2009, Moore launched another campaign for governor of Alabama in 2010 election.[137] In the first round of the June 2010 Republican primary election, Moore came in fourth place with 19.31% of the vote, behind Bradley Byrne (27.89%), Robert J. Bentley (25.15%), and Tim James (25.12%).[138]


On April 18, 2011, Moore announced that he was forming an exploratory committee to run in the Republican presidential primaries in 2012.[139][140] When that campaign failed to gain traction, he began to draw speculation in the media as being a potential Constitution Party presidential contender.[131][141] In November 2011, Moore withdrew his exploratory committee and ended all speculation of a presidential candidacy when he instead announced that he would in 2012 seek his former post of Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court.[142] On November 6, 2012, Moore won election back to the office of Alabama Chief Justice, defeating replacement Democratic candidate Bob Vance.[143]

2017 Senate special election in Alabama

Roy Moore 2017 logo.png
Roy Moore campaign sign, 2017

On April 26, 2017, Moore, who had been suspended from the Alabama Supreme Court since September 2016, stated that he had submitted retirement papers and would resign as chief justice in order to run for the U.S. Senate seat vacated earlier by Jeff Sessions, who left the Senate to become U.S. Attorney General. Governor Robert Bentley appointed Luther Strange to fill the vacancy, and Strange also sought the Republican nomination in the special election.[144]

Moore and Strange advanced to the primary runoff after Moore finished first with 38.87% of the vote to Strange's 32.83%.[145] On September 26, 2017, Moore defeated Strange in Alabama's Republican primary runoff election.[146]

Moore faces Democratic nominee Doug Jones, a former United States Attorney, in the special election on December 12, 2017.[147] Moore has refused to debate Jones.[148][149][150] Moore turned down debate invitations extended by the League of Women Voters[149] and WHNT-TV and[150][148] Jones' campaign said that Jones was "willing to debate Roy Moore anytime, anywhere" and accused Moore of "hiding from the voters, from the media and from his record for weeks".[150][148] Moore said that he refused to debate Jones because of Jones' "very liberal stance on transgenderism and transgenderism in the military and in bathrooms".[151]

Campaign speech racial controversy

During a campaign speech in 2017, Moore decried racial divisions plaguing the United States, and stating: "Now we have blacks and whites fighting, reds and yellows fighting, Democrats and Republicans fighting, men and women fighting. What’s going to unite us? What’s going to bring us back together? A president? A Congress? No. It's going to be God." Moore's reference to "reds" and "yellows" was criticized as racially insensitive.[152][153] Moore's campaign responded by stating that Moore's statement was a paraphrase of the children's Sunday School song "Jesus Loves the Little Children" and was an appeal for racial healing.[154]

Political positions

According to Business Insider, Moore has a "history of far-right and conspiracy-aligned positions" on issues such as homosexuality, race, Islam, and terrorism.[155] According to CNN, Moore's "virulent anti-gay, right-wing views made him a national figure".[10] According to The New York Times, Moore "is a staunch evangelical Christian, and his often-inflammatory political beliefs are informed by his strongly held religious views".[156] Moore has been considered a "rising star of the alt-right movement" by The Jerusalem Post and an "alt-right hero" by The Washington Post.[157][158]


Moore is strongly anti-abortion. In a 2014 Supreme Court ruling, he said that laws should protect life "from the moment of conception".[159]

American exceptionalism

Moore has been skeptical of modern American exceptionalism, saying that "America promotes a lot of bad things." Moore argued that the United States is an "Evil Empire" comparable to the Soviet Union, saying that America is "the focus of evil in the modern world". When asked for a clarification, Moore gave an example of America culturally exporting acceptance of homosexuality around the world.[160][161]

Alabama's Constitution

Moore was a strong opponent of a proposed amendment to the Alabama Constitution in 2004. Known as Amendment 2, the proposed legislation would have removed wording from the state constitution that referred to poll taxes and required separate schools for "white and colored children", a practice already outlawed due to civil rights-era legislation during the Civil Rights Movement. Moore and other opponents of the measure argued that the amendment's wording would have allowed federal judges to force the state to fund public school improvements with increased taxes. Voters in Alabama narrowly defeated the proposed amendment, with a margin of 1,850 votes out of 1.38 million cast. Moore's opposition has been cited as a reason for the failure of the referendum.[162][163][164]

Birther conspiracy theory

Moore was a leading voice in the anti-Obama birther movement, which promoted the debunked conspiracy theory that Obama is not a U.S. citizen.[17] Moore does not believe that Barack Obama is a U.S. citizen.[165] He has repeatedly promoted the conspiracy theory since 2008 and through at least December 2016. Asked if he still questioned Obama's citizenship in August 2017, the Moore campaign declined to answer questions from the media.[165][166] As a justice on the Alabama Supreme Court, he opined that Alabama's Secretary of State should "investigate the qualifications of those candidates who appeared on the 2012 general-election ballot".[165]

Moore has also suggested, without providing any evidence, that former President Obama is secretly a Muslim.[18]

Church and state

In his debut column for, Moore argued that God is the "sovereign source of our law", echoing his language and reasoning used in the failed Constitution Restoration Act.[167] Because of his focus on religion in politics, he has earned the nickname of 'Ayatollah of Alabama' among his critics.[11]

In a January 2014 speech in Mississippi, Moore said that the Framers of the Declaration of Independence and the Founding Fathers attributed our rights to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" as coming from a specific God, stating "Buddha didn't create us, Mohammed didn't create us, it was the God of the Holy Scriptures."[168] The speech prompted criticism because it appeared to suggest that non-Christians did not enjoy religious protections under the First Amendment. In a subsequent interview, Moore said that the First Amendment protects all faiths: "It applies to the rights God gave us to be free in our modes of thinking, and as far as religious liberty to all people, regardless of what they believe".[169]

Civil rights

In a November 2017 speech at a revival in Jackson, Roy Moore stated that "they started [to] create new rights in 1965, and today we've got a problem" in an apparent reference to the Voting Rights Act of 1965.[170]


Neo-Confederate groups held events at the Foundation for Moral Law, a foundation led by Moore, in 2009 and 2010.[171] The events "promoted a history of the Civil War sympathetic to the Confederate cause, in which the conflict is presented as one fought over the federal government violating the South's sovereignty as opposed to one fought chiefly over the preservation of slavery".[171]

The foundation's then-executive director, Rich Hobson, now Moore's campaign manager, claimed in 2010 that Moore was unaware of these events and that it was Hobson who approved them.[171] However, the organizer of the events thanked Moore for allowing them to hold the events in his building.[171]


In 2007, Moore opposed preschool, claiming that attendees are "much more likely to learn a liberal social and political philosophy" and that state involvement in early childhood education is characteristic of totalitarianism.[172]


Moore rejects the theory of evolution, saying "There is no such thing as evolution. That we came from a snake? No, I don’t believe that."[156] In 2010, Moore ran attack ads in the Republican gubernatorial primary against his opponent Bradley Byrne, questioning Byrne's faith on the grounds that he had supported the teaching of evolution while on a local school board. (In response, Byrne ran ads claiming to be a creationist).[173][174]

Free speech

In an October 2017 interview with Time, Moore said regarding NFL players who protested police violence by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem: "It's against the law, you know that? It was a act of Congress that every man stand and put their hand over their heart. That's the law."[175][176][177] This assertion is incorrect assuming Moore was calling for enforcement; for civilians, the United States Flag Code, which outlines proper conduct when the national anthem is played, is an advisory description of proper etiquette, not an enforceable law.[178]


When asked whether he approved of free trade, Moore stated that he supported protectionism.[179] Moore has suggested pulling out of various free trade agreements, saying that he would rescind "unfair free trade agreements which have severely damaged our economy".[180]


In July 2017, Moore stated that he was unfamiliar with what the Dreamer program was.[156] Later, in September 2017, Moore criticized Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which grants temporary stay to unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children.[156] In an interview with Breitbart News, Moore stated that he is supportive of the RAISE Act, along with supporting a significant and immediate reduction in legal immigration, arguing that immigrants hurt native-born Americans.[181][182]

LGBT rights

Moore has been described as holding "virulently anti-gay" beliefs.[155][10] Moore is supportive of laws to make homosexuality illegal, and has argued that same-sex parents are unfit to raise children, that openly gay individuals should not be allowed to serve in government, and that the legitimization of various forms of "sodomy" may cause suffering in the United States.[155][10][183] He believes that homosexuality goes against "the laws of nature" and stated it is comparable with bestiality.[184]

In 1996, while presiding over a divorce case, Moore ruled that a mother who had had a lesbian affair would lose custody of her children to the father and that she could not be allowed see her children unless she was supervised.[185] Moore wrote in his ruling, "The court strongly feels that the minor children will be detrimentally affected by the present lifestyle of [Mrs. Borden] who has engaged in a homosexual relationship during her marriage, forbidden both by the laws of the State of Alabama and the Laws of Nature."[185] The Court of Civil Appeals removed Moore from the case, a decision that was later affirmed by the Alabama Supreme Court.[185]

In February 2002, as Alabama Chief Justice, Moore issued a controversial opinion that expressed his belief that the State should use its powers to punish "homosexual behavior". The case, D.H. v. H.H., was a custody dispute where a lesbian was petitioning for custody of her children, alleging abuse by her ex-husband. A circuit court in Alabama had ruled in favor of the father, but the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals overturned that verdict 4–1, saying that substantial evidence existed of abusive behavior by the father.[186] In a concurring opinion in the case, Moore stated that a parent's homosexuality should be a deciding factor in determining which parent gets custody over children: "Homosexual behavior is a ground for divorce, an act of sexual misconduct punishable as a crime in Alabama, a crime against nature, an inherent evil, and an act so heinous that it defies one's ability to describe it. That is enough under the law to allow a court to consider such activity harmful to a child."[187]

In 2016, Moore was suspended from the Alabama Supreme Court for instructing state probate judges to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in contravention of Obergefell v. Hodges, in which the U.S. Supreme Court determined that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry.[188]

In 2017, Moore called for impeaching judges who have issued rulings supportive of homosexuality and same-sex marriage.[184] In November 2016, Moore argued that the Obergefell ruling was worse than the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford ruling (which declared that African-Americans whether enslaved or free, were property and could not be American citizens).[189] The Dred Scott ruling is widely considered as the worst Supreme Court ruling.[190][191]

In November 2017, Moore said that transgender people "don't have rights".[151]

In August 2017, Moore suggested that the September 11 attacks were a punishment by God for Americans' declining religiosity.[192][155] Moore has also suggested that the Sandy Hook shooting, which killed 28 people (including 20 children), was "because we've forgotten the law of God".[193] Moore has also said that suffering in the United States may be because "we legitimize sodomy" and "legitimize abortion".[155] The Washington Post notes that "among the prices [Moore] says this country has paid for denying God’s supremacy: the high murder rate in Chicago, crime on the streets of Washington, child abuse, rape and sodomy."[184]

Opposition to Islam

Moore has called for banning Muslims from serving in Congress, described Islam as a "false religion" and made unsubstantiated claims about Sharia law in the United States.[155][10] When asked by a reporter where in the United States that Sharia law was being practiced, Moore said "Well, there's Sharia law, as I understand it, in Illinois, Indiana—up there. I don't know."[194][195] Asked if it was not an amazing claim for a Senate candidate to make, Moore said "Well, let me just put it this way—if they are, they are; if they're not, they're not."[194]

In 2006, Moore wrote that Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim to have been elected to the United States House of Representatives, should be barred from sitting in Congress because in his view, a Muslim could not honestly take the oath of office. Moore said that the Quran did not allow for religions other than Islam to exist, and added, "common sense alone dictates that in the midst of a war with Islamic terrorists we should not place someone in a position of great power who shares their doctrine."[196]

Russia and Vladimir Putin

Moore has strongly praised Russian President Vladimir Putin, stating that he is maybe "more akin to me than I know [myself]". When asked whether he believed whether Russia interfered in the 2016 United States elections, Moore stated "Everybody else thinks it's the Russians. I think it was the providential hand of God."[160][161]

Electoral history

United States Senate special election in Alabama, 2017

Republican primary
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Roy Moore 164,524 38.9%
Republican Luther Strange (incumbent) 138,971 32.8%
Republican Mo Brooks 83,287 19.7%
Republican Trip Pittman 29,124 6.9%
Republican Randy Brinson 2,978 0.6%
Republican Bryan Peeples 1,579 0.4%
Republican Mary Maxwell 1,543 0.4%
Republican James Beretta 1,078 0.3%
Republican Dom Gentile 303 0.1%
Republican Joseph Breault 252 0.1%
Total votes 423,282 100.0%
Republican primary runoff
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Roy Moore 262,204 54.6%
Republican Luther Strange (incumbent) 218,066 45.4%
Total votes 480,270 100.0%
General election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Doug Jones
Republican Roy Moore
Total votes ' '


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External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Perry Hooper
Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court
Succeeded by
J. Gorman Houston Jr.
Preceded by
Chuck Malone
Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court
Succeeded by
Lyn Stuart
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jeff Sessions
Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from Alabama
(Class 2)

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