Despite a last-minute try by Alabama's antigay chief justice, Roy Moore, same-sex couples got the go-ahead needed to start wedding on Monday.
The U.S. Supreme Court had not ruled Friday on whether to grant a stay on a lower court's ruling that deemed unconstitutional Alabama's ban on marriage equality. So the state's arch-conservative chief justice told probate judges in a letter on Sunday that they should not issue licenses to same-sex couples today.
But the justices cleared things up first thing this morning, denying the Alabama attorney general's request for a stay, reports The New York Times.
SCOTUSblog reports that justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia dissented from the denial of the stay. Thomas complained that "ordinary practice" is to suspend rulings from taking effect until an appeal is complete. He called the denial of the stay "yet another example of this Court’s increasingly cavalier attitude toward the States."
Moore's Sunday letter was sent to probate judges, and he isn't alone in trying to stop marriage equality from the Alabama bench. One probate judge, Wes Allen, had already vowed to stop issuing all marriage licenses in his county so he could avoid marrying same-sex couples.
Moore's previous efforts at stopping marriage equality inspired ethics charges and demands for his termination from groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Human Rights Campaign. Of Moore's most recent failed attempt, HRC legal director Sarah Warbelow cited it as all the more reason he "ought to be sanctioned.”
“This is a pathetic, last-ditch attempt at judicial fiat by an Alabama Supreme Court justice — a man who should respect the rule of law rather than advance his personal beliefs," she said.