Last week Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore wrote a letter to the governor claiming that they did not have to comply with a federal court order striking down that state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Now he’s gone a big step further and instructed state probate judges that they do not need to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite the fact that the appeals court rejected a stay of that lower court ruling.
Doubling down on comments made last week, Moore sent a letter and memorandum Tuesday to the state’s probate judges, telling them they were not required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if a recent federal court decision goes into effect.
The chief justice, never shy about sharing his socially conservative viewpoints, wrote that “nothing” in U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade’s decision to strike down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage “requires Alabama probate judges to issue marriage licenses that are illegal in Alabama.”
“Lower federal courts are without authority to impose their own interpretation of federal constitutional law upon the state courts,” Moore wrote in the letter, which he characterized as an “advisory” opinion. “Furthermore, they have absolutely no legitimate authority to compel state courts to redefine marriage to include persons of the same sex.”
I’m actually glad he did this. Last week’s letter was just an expression of his opinion. This memo is official and is him directly instructing lower court judges that they can ignore the federal courts. This is exactly the same thing he tried to do more than a decade ago when he refused to comply with a federal court ruling that ordered him to remove the huge Ten Commandments monument he had put up at the state supreme court building. For that, he was removed from the bench and it could very well happen again.