Roy Moore Is Victim of Political 'Witch Hunt,' Says Legal Group

(Photo: Reuters/Bob Ealum)Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore speaks outside the state Judicial building in Montgomery, August 25, 2003.

A conservative legal organization is crying foul at the appointment of a former member of the Southern Poverty Law Center to prosecute a case against Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

The Alabama Chief Justice is battling a complaint filed by the Montgomery-based activist group — known for labeling organizations opposed to same-sex marriage as "hate groups" — for alleged ethics violations when he defied a court order to allow state judges to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission appointed Samford University law professor John Carroll to the position of prosecutor for the Moore complaint.

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A former magistrate judge and present faculty at Samford's Cumberland School of Law, Carroll once served as legal director for the SPLC.

Harry Mihet of the Liberty Counsel told The Christian Post that his organization objected to the selection of Carroll due to his past connections to the SPLC.

"We think it's an outrageous and brazen appointment to have a former legal director of the SPLC be the prosecutor of a complaint that was filed by the SPLC," said Mihet.

"The Judicial Inquiry Commission has abandoned all pretense of neutrality and has proven that this really is, in fact, a politically motivated witch hunt against the chief justice."

Mihet also told CP that the JIC could have chosen "someone that has a proven record of impartiality. Someone who is not an advocate for the very causes that are near and dear to the chief complainants in this case."

"The list of potential candidates really is limitless, that the one candidate they found happens to be John Carroll really goes to show how corrupt the entire proceedings are," continued Mihet.

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(Photo: Reuters/Brian Snyder)John Sullivan (L) and Chris McCary, both from Anniston, Alabama, walk away from the Provincetown, Massachusetts Town Hall with their marriage license May 17, 2004. They were the first in line to file for a license and were married later in the day. In November 2003 the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that Massachusetts must allow same-sex couples to marry beginning May 17, 2004.

In January 2015, Moore issued an order prohibiting probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples following the state's law being struck down by a federal judge.

Two months later in March, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled 7-1 that a federal judge's striking down of the state constitutional law banning gay marriage should not be enforced.

"As it has done for approximately two centuries, Alabama law allows for 'marriage' between only one man and one woman," read the decision.

"Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law. … Nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides this duty."

In response to Moore's order, the SPLC filed an ethics complaint against the conservative chief justice for his refusal to allow enforcement of the federal judge's decision.

"The SPLC complaint describes how Moore has committed numerous ethics violations, noting that he encouraged lawlessness by attempting to assemble ... state officials and judges to oppose the federal judiciary and its 'tyranny' — the opposite of what is expected from the state's chief judge," the SPLC argued last January.

"The SPLC complaints also allege that Moore repeatedly commented on pending cases; undermined the public's confidence in the integrity of the judiciary by denigrating the federal courts and threatening to defy them; and improperly lent the prestige of his office to the Foundation for Moral Law, a private organization that his wife runs and that he founded."

Earlier this month, Moore was suspended with pay by the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission while the complaint is being processed.

"Moore's actions led the SPLC to file complaints with the commission, which acts much in the same way as a grand jury," reported Al.com.

"When it receives a complaint, the commission investigates and decides whether to forward charges to the Alabama Court of the Judiciary."

Regarding the concerns of having Carroll serve as prosecutor, a spokesperson of the JIC provided CP with a brief statement that did not express any concern in the connection, since "his employment with the SPLC terminated in April 1984, 32 years ago."