Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, famed for his efforts to keep a Ten Commandments monument on public property as well as his staunch opposition to all things gay, is telling the state’s governor to ignore a federal judge’s ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
“I ask you to continue to uphold and support the Alabama Constitution with respect to marriage, both for the welfare of this state and for our posterity,” Moore wrote to Gov. Robert Bentley. “Be advised that I stand with you to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority.” The three-page letter, delivered to Bentley this morning, was also released to AL.com, a website for several Alabama newspapers.
Moore, an ultraconservative Christian who has said marriage equality will destroy the U.S. Constitution and the nation overall, frequently invoked the Bible in his letter. “The laws of this state have always recognized the Biblical admonition stated by our Lord,” he wrote, then quoted words attributed to Jesus in the Gospel of Mark: “But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this cause a man shall leave father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.”
Federal courts, he said, are destroying marriage “under specious pretexts based on the Equal Protection, Due Process, and Full Faith and Credit clauses of the U.S. Constitution.” He claimed that federal courts have no constitutional power to regulate marriage. “Our State Constitution and our morality are under attack by a federal court decision that has no basis in the Constitution of the United States,” he wrote. He also quoted an 1825 letter from Thomas Jefferson decrying overreach by the federal government and an 1885 U.S. Supreme Court decision citing the importance of “the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy state of matrimony.”
David Kennedy, an attorney for the couple whose challenge led to the marriage ban being struck down Friday, told AL.com that “there is no legal support” for Moore’s position that federal courts have no say in this matter. “Kennedy said the Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution provides that when a federal court with the proper jurisdiction rules that a state law is unconstitutional that state officials are bound to abide by the ruling,” the site reports.
Governor Bentley, however, is siding with Moore as the state appeals U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade’s Friday marriage equality ruling and prepares to appeal a second one, issued in a separate case Monday (both are on hold until early February). “The people of Alabama elected me to uphold our state Constitution, and when I took the oath of office last week, that is what I promised to do,” said a statement issued by the governor today. “The people of Alabama voted in a constitutional amendment to define marriage as being between man and woman. As governor, I must uphold the Constitution. I am disappointed in Friday's ruling, and I will continue to oppose this ruling. The Federal government must not infringe on the rights of states.”
The Human Rights Campaign responded to Moore’s letter as well. “There’s something deeply ironic about a judge seeking the right to ignore another judge’s ruling while crying ‘judicial activism,’” said a statement from HRC Alabama director Ashley Jackson. “The federal constitution guarantees the equal protection of the law for all Americans, and, sooner rather than later, that equality must come to Alabama’s families too.”
Moore has had some beefs with federal courts before. Back in 2001, during his first stint as chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, he made headlines for commissioning a Ten Commandments monument for the Alabama State Judicial Building. After a federal court ruled that the monument amounted to an unlawful establishment of religion by a governmental body, Moore was ordered to remove it; he refused and ended up being removed from office in 2003. Voters returned him to the chief justice position in 2012.