Fed. Judge Orders Alabama Judges to Issue Marriage Licenses

Fed. Judge Orders Alabama Judges to Issue Marriage Licenses May 23, 2015

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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