Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, a staunch opponent of LGBT rights, is calling the U.S. Supreme Court decision for marriage equality so immoral that it’s comparable to Nazi war crimes.
In an interview with AL.com, a website for several Alabama newspapers, a reporter asked Moore if he would enforce the decision. He replied contentiously that judges do not enforce the law, and brought up Nazi Germany’s mass murder of Jews as an example of people following immoral orders.
“Could I do this if I were in Nuremberg [at the war crimes trials after World War II], say that I was following the orders of the highest authority to kill Jews? ... Could I say I was ordered to do so?"
When an AL.com reporter reminded Alabama's top jurist that the Nuremberg trials were about "killing human beings, not gay marriage," Moore reportedly responded with a question: "Is there a difference?"
Moore said the justices who ruled for marriage equality did not interpret the U.S. Constitution properly, and that he agreed with the dissenters. He also, like many marriage equality opponents, compared the ruling to the 1857 Dred Scott case, in which the nation’s highest court ruled that African-Americans could not be citizens. “That was the interpretation of the majority of the court. Were they right? Of course not,” he told the interviewer. Watch a clip of Moore's comments at the bottom of this page; it does not include the Nuremberg statement, however.
Alabama remains in a state of confusion about marriage equality. As of Monday, at least 22 of Alabama’s 67 counties were not issuing licenses to same-sex couples “or had shut down marriage license operations altogether,” the Associated Press reports.
The confusion is due partly to a Monday statement by Moore. He said that a state Supreme Court order, from which he had recused himself, prevented Alabama probate judges (the officials who issue marriage licenses) from granting marriage licenses to any same-sex couples for 25 days — that being the period in which parties to a U.S. Supreme Court case can ask for a rehearing. Then he backtracked and said probate judges could issue the licenses during that period, but they didn’t have to.
Civil rights organizations were in federal court in Mobile Monday seeking to clear up the situation. They asked U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade to make permanent her temporary order directing all counties in the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The temporary order, issued in May, took effect with the Supreme Court’s ruling Friday, but some counties are still resisting.
“I don’t think anyone suggests there’s any wiggle room in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision,” said Randall Marshall, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, according to AL.com. “There is no doubt the ruling applies to Alabama and there’s no argument to get out from under it.”
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the Southern Poverty Law Center are the other civil rights groups involved in the case.
Granade had struck down Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban in February, and marriages took place for a few weeks, but the state Supreme Court issued an order stopping them in early March.
Meanwhile, MoveOn.org has started a petition calling for Moore’s impeachment, citing his “inability to perform his duties with impartiality.” The petition has received more than 17,000 signatures.
Moore was first elected chief justice in 2000, but Alabama’s judicial ethics panel removed him from office in 2003, as he had disobeyed a federal judge’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state Supreme Court building — a monument that amounted to an unconstitutional establishment of religion by a government body. Voters elected him chief justice again in 2012.
When he was out of office, he was president of the Montgomery-based Foundation for Moral Law. When he returned to the chief justice post, his wife, Kayla Moore, succeeded him as president of the right-wing group, which has called Friday’s decision illegitimate. The foundation has claimed that Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan should have recused themselves from the marriage equality case, as both had officiated same-sex marriages before Friday's ruling and therefore could not be impartial. Notably, the foundation did not suggest that any justices who have officiated opposite-sex marriages should similarly recuse themselves from any cases relating to marriage.