When BuzzFeed News editor in chief Ben Moore sat down with President Barack Obama Tuesday for a wide-ranging interview that touched on numerous points in the struggle for LGBT equality, the president made headlines by announcing that he "welcomes" what he senses as a "shift" that the Supreme Court is about to make regarding the freedom to marry nationwide.
But the president also had some choice words for a state Supreme Court justice who is standing in the way of the freedom to marry in Alabama, the latest state to see its ban on same-sex marriage struck down by a federal court.
Roy Moore, the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, has been the state's most vocal — and vociferous — opponent of allowing Alabama to become the 37th state with the freedom to marry. The chief justice has instructed probate judges (who are responsible for issuing marriage licenses in Alabama) to ignore a federal order requiring them to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, telling judges they could be held in contempt if they perform same-sex marriages.
Although a select few Alabama counties began marrying same-sex couples Monday, more than 40 of the state's 60 counties are currently refusing to do so — with many refusing to issue any marriage licenses to any couples, be they gay or straight.
In the BuzzFeed interview, Smith asked Obama if he saw "shades of George Wallace in the schoolhouse door" in Moore's refusal to recognize marriage equality, evoking the infamous former Alabama governor's refusal to integrate public schools after the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board of Education decision.
"I won’t say it’s a perfect analogy," Obama hedged. "But there’s a core principle here that’s at stake, which is we have a supremacy clause in our constitution. When federal law is in conflict with state law, federal law wins out. My understanding — my recollection is that Judge Moore had a similar problem with a federal court ruling that you couldn’t put a huge Ten Commandments statue in the middle of your courthouse and, ultimately, federal law was obeyed, and I think that the same thing will end up happening here."
Smith pressed on, asking if Obama had anything specific to say to Moore — who was removed from office in 2003 after he refused to abide by a federal order to remove that Ten Commandments statue Obama referenced.
"You know, I think that the courts at the federal level will have something to say to him," the president smirked.
Watch the segment below, which also features Obama's speculation about how the Supreme Court might rule when it considers marriage equality cases out of four states this spring.