By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
The Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore (R), has never feared controversy. While most judges are quiet, bookish if opinionated, types who are careful about what they do or say outside of the court room, Chief Justice Roy Moore is much more outspoken and is easily the most famous Alabama jurist of the last 40 years.
Moore catapulted into the national spot light by fighting for the right to display the Ten Commandments in his Etowah County Court room. The resulting publicity made the former Vietnam War MP Captain, prosecutor, cowboy, kick boxer into a potent political force that put him in charge of the Alabama Court System as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. The Ten Commandments monument he put in Alabama’s Supreme Court Building and the resulting federal lawsuit ultimately led to his eventual removal as Chief Justice. Following a book tour and two unsuccessful runs for Governor, the people of Alabama sent ‘Judge Moore’ back to his post as Alabama’s Chief Justice.
The outspoken social conservative has jumped back into the national spotlight Wednesday by sending letters to all 50 American Governors, calling for a Constitutional Convention to settle the gay marriage debate by passing an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Already a ‘Stand With Judge Moore’ Facebook Page and a website, have been created to further the cause of calling for an article V constitutional convention: something which has never happened in American history. Other conservative groups are urging a constitutional convention to pass a balanced budget amendment. There is legislation in the Alabama Legislature now urging support for the budget convention.
Chief Justice Moore’s proposed constitutional amendment reads:
“Nothing in this Constitution or in the constitution or laws of any state shall define or shall be construed to define marriage except as the union of one man and one woman, and no other union shall be recognized with the legal incidents thereof within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Chief Justice Moore told the Associated Press, “The moral foundation of our country is under attack. Moore said that the only way to stop liberal judges who are finding new rights for gay unions is with a state-initiated constitutional amendment. “Government has become oppressive, and judges are warping the law,” Moore told the A.P. Moore said, “I think the time is ripe for that to happen with the political atmosphere in Congress. They can’t get along or agree on anything.”
Not everyone in Alabama agrees with Judge Moore. Susan Watson, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, issued a statement in response to Chief Justice Moore’s letters to U.S. governors urging them to oppose marriage equality. Watson wrote,
“Chief Justice Roy Moore said that government has become oppressive and this is yet another perfect example of his contributions to the matter. His definition of marriage as one man-one woman is a religious one. We support everyone’s rights to have their own religious beliefs, but he is chronically imposing his beliefs on others. This isn’t the first time Justice Moore has been in this spotlight. You’d think he’d learn by now. Times are changing and he needs to get with it. People here think that marriage equality in Alabama will never happen. But I think it will.”
On Tuesday, Republican candidate for Congress in the Seventh District challenged social conservatives when he wrote: “If the government uses any religious definition of marriage, that violates the free exercise of religion – and the establishment clause of the Constitution. The decision regarding religious marriage ceremonies, and the rules and regulations of said marriage, should be determined by an individual’s church. Under our system, government can’t establish religious doctrine. For this reason, I stand by my comments that I wrote endorsing same-sex marriage. I did not intend to tell anyone what their religious beliefs should be. But I intend for the government to stop illegal and unconstitutional discrimination against law abiding people.”
The issue of gay marriage has become very contentious in Republican politics. While Democrats rapidly abandoned their defense of traditional marriage due to pressure and money from the increasingly powerful gay lobby, the issue divides the Republican base. Younger more libertarian Republicans typically take the side that government has no place telling people they can or can not marry persons of the same sex if they want to. Social conservatives on the other hand see government as the enforcer of morality and the defender of traditional Judeo-Christian values. This same divide comes up on issues like marijuana legalization.