Fed. Judge Orders Alabama Judges to Issue Marriage Licenses

The federal judge who ruled Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional is putting the Alabama Supreme Court, and the probate judges in that state, on notice that if the Supreme Court upholds that ruling next month, their attempts to nullify that ruling will not be tolerated. From a press release put out by a coalition of groups including the ACLU and Americans United:

A federal district court today ordered that all Alabama probate judges must comply with the U.S. Constitution and may not refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples after four leading civil rights organizations requested the court expand a lawsuit to cover all same-sex couples and probate judges statewide. The district court’s order will take effect when the United States Supreme Court issues its decision in several pending cases seeking the freedom to marry in four states. The Supreme Court marriage cases were argued in April, and a ruling is expected by the end of June.

U.S. District Judge Callie V. S. Granade’s ruling applies to all probate judges in Alabama’s 67 counties. The state’s probate judges are responsible for issuing marriage licenses. The ruling expands the court’s order earlier this year requiring the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses in Mobile County.

Today’s order by the federal district court makes clear that probate judges are obligated to obey the United States Constitution and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples regardless of a ruling issued earlier this year by the Alabama Supreme Court, which stated that county probate judges could not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Licenses must be issued in Alabama as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court rules on the marriage cases now pending before it…

Most Alabama probate judges started issuing same-sex marriage licenses in February after Granade declared unconstitutional an Alabama law and an Alabama constitutional provision banning same-sex marriages. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court subsequently declined to stay Granade’s ruling.

The Alabama Supreme Court halted same-sex marriages throughout the state March 3 by ordering probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Granade’s latest order overrides the Alabama Supreme Court’s order.

I doubt this will do anything to slow down the Alabama Supreme Court, which seems convinced that they have the authority to refuse to follow federal court orders. You’d think they would have learned that lesson under George Wallace, who attempted the same thing in opposition to desegregation orders half a century ago, but apparently not. This is heading for a showdown and, quite frankly, I hope the judge issues contempt orders and arrests if they refuse to comply with the law.

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  • John Pieret

    Actually, Roy Moore’s position has been that lower Federal courts have no authority to overrule Alabama’s courts and that only SCOTUS can do so, implying at least, that he recognizes that SCOTUS can do so. When push comes to shove on the other hand …

  • StevoR

    Love and fairness have won!

    Here and in Ireland as well – who would’ve thought conservative Catholic Ireland would beat us in Oz and those in (a lot of) the States and others to having equal marriage?

    See :

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-23/ireland-no-campaigner-concedes-defeat-in-gay-marriage-vote/6492524

  • Chiroptera

    I haven’t looked it up, but I assume that the state constitution of Alabama has a clause recognizing that US law and the US Constitution takes precedence over Alabama law. So, ironically, these attempts to circumvent the US Constitution also violate their own state constitution as well.

  • Michael Heath

    Chiroptera writes:

    I haven’t looked it up, but I assume that the state constitution of Alabama has a clause recognizing that US law and the US Constitution takes precedence over Alabama law. So, ironically, these attempts to circumvent the US Constitution also violate their own state constitution as well.

    According to Wikipedia, the AL Constitution is 40X longer than the U.S. Constitution. This link doesn’t allow one to search the entire document by key word: http://alisondb.legislature.state.al.us/alison/codeofalabama/constitution/1901/constitution1901_toc.htm.

    I did skim through it and found the following relevant sections, though none that explicitly cover that the U.S. Constitution is holding when in conflict with the AL Constitution.

    Section 2 of the AL Constitution:

    SECTION 2

    People source of power.

    That all political power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their benefit; and that, therefore, they have at all times an inalienable and indefeasible right to change their form of government in such manner as they may deem expedient.

    Section 21:

    That no power of suspending laws shall be exercised except by the legislature.

    Section 35:

    That the sole object and only legitimate end of government is to protect the citizen in the enjoyment of life, liberty, and property, and when the government assumes other functions it is usurpation and oppression.

    Section 279:

    SECTION 279

    Required of members of legislature and executive and judicial officers; form; administration.

    All members of the legislature, and all officers, executive and judicial, before they enter upon the execution of the duties of their respective offices, shall take the following oath or affirmation:

    “I, …, solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Alabama, so long as I continue a citizen thereof; and that I will faithfully and honestly discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter, to the best of my ability. So help me God.”

    The oath may be administered by the presiding officer of either house of the legislature, or by any officer authorized by law to administer an oath.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    I hope the judge issues contempt orders and arrests if they refuse to comply with the law.

    Good luck! Our Patriotic Christian Alabamian Judges will nullify those, too, and our Oath-Keeping Constitutional Sheriffs will refuse to comply!!

  • John Pieret

    our Oath-Keeping Constitutional Sheriffs will refuse to comply!!

    It’ll get interesting when the Federal Marshals show up …

  • macallan

    Send in the national guard, just like last time. Keep popcorn & beer ready for the mother of all freakouts from the right.

  • http://zenoferox.blogspot.com/ Zeno

    I’m concerned about the timeline. If the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of gay marriage too soon, federal forces may still be engaged in pacifying Texas via Jade Helm 15 and might not be available to quash rebellion in Alabama, too!

  • Anri

    From the OP:

    You’d think they would have learned that lesson under George Wallace, who attempted the same thing in opposition to desegregation orders half a century ago, but apparently not.

    Or, I dunno, from that little squabble in the mid 1800’s…

    “A squabble? They’re all dead!”

    “Oh. Must have been more of a tiff then!”

  • John Pieret

    Re the Irish referendum: Love and fairness have won!

    And by a landslide: 62 to 38 percent!

  • whheydt

    From the BBC report on the Irish vote:

    Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, said if the referendum was an affirmation of the views of young people, the church had a “huge task in front of it”. “I think really the church needs to do a reality check,” he told RTE.

    Ya THINK? When that ‘reality check” hits the Vatican, it’s probably going to bounce…

  • carpenterman

    Zeno @ #8:

    Damn, you beat me to the Jade Helm 15 joke!

  • anubisprime

    whheydt @ 11

    The writing between the lines can be glimpsed in this quote from the same commentary from the same Archbishop quite clearly…

    “I ask myself, most of these young people who voted yes are products of our Catholic school system for 12 years. I’m saying there’s a big challenge there to see how we get across the message of the Church,”

    Translation…

    ‘How is a decent religion supposed to function and insure future generational compliance to our authority if you cannot openly beat, sexually abuse, and terrorize the kids…it is PC gone mad…’

  • whheydt

    Re: anubisprime @ #13…

    Yeah. I saw that quote as well. I keep wondering when it’s going to dawn on him (if it ever does) that the younger voters may have voted for SSM *because* they went through 12 years of Catholic schooling. Said schooling may be the church’s own worst enemy. On the other hand, the multiple, nasty scandals of the Catholic Church in Ireland that have been exposed in recent years might have had a significant effect as well. Again…the church is its own worst enemy.