By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, January 27, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) sent a letter to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) that he shared with the press on the ruling from a Mobile based federal judge regarding same-sex marriage in Alabama.
Judge Moore applauded an opinion by the Alabama Probate Judge’s Association saying that the ruling did not apply to them and that they would not issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.
Chief Justice Moore however said, “I am dismayed by those judges in our State who have stated they will recognize and unilaterally enforce a federal court decision which does not bind them. I would advise them that the issuance of such licenses would be in defiance of the laws and Constitution of Alabama….United States district court decisions are not controlling authority in this Court.”
The popular Alabama Chief Justice asked Governor Bentley to join in defying the controversial court decision. Judge Moore wrote to Gov. Bentley, “Be advised that I stand with you to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority.”
The Foundation for Moral Law (which was founded by Judge Moore and is now headed by his wife) released a statement expressing regret that US District Judge Callie “Ginny” V.S. Granade struck down Alabama’s Sanctity of Marriage Amendment that prohibited same-sex marriage.
Moore’s wife and Foundation for Moral Law President Kayla Moore emphasized her view that Judge Granade’s ruling applies only in the Southern District of Alabama and that the ruling does not affect a same-sex marriage case the Foundation is defending in the Middle District. Mrs. Moore said that the Foundation will continue to defend traditional marriage in that case as well as others and expressed her optimism that laws protecting traditional marriage will ultimately prevail in the US Supreme Court.
President Moore wrote, “Alabamians approved the 2006 Sanctity of Marriage Amendment by 81 percent of the vote and the will of the people should not be lightly discarded in favor of an alleged right that is found nowhere in the Constitution.”
On Saturday, January 24, the Alabama Probate Judges Association announced in a statement: “Many media outlets are reporting that the ruling, issued Friday by US District Judge Ginny Granade, will allow same sex couples to receive marriage licenses in Alabama beginning Monday morning. The Alabama Probate Judges Association wants to ensure that all Alabamians are clear that Friday’s ruling does not open the door for the issuance of same sex marriage licenses.”
The Judges continued, “Cari Searcy and Kim McKeand are the only plaintiffs in the case that was filed against Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange. The Alabama Probate Judges Association says that is a key point in the effect that this ruling has on the duties of probate judges.”
Al Agricula who represents the Alabama Probate Judges Association said in a statement, “Judge Granade’s ruling in this case only applies to the parties in the case and has no effect on anybody that is not a named party. The probate judges were not parties in this matter. The legal effect of this decision is to allow one person in one same sex marriage that was performed in another state to adopt their partner’s child. There is nothing in the judge’s order that requires probate judges in Alabama to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.”
The President of the Alabama Probate Judges Association, Judge Greg Norris said that he hopes that misinterpretation of Friday’s ruling will not cause confusion among the general public. Judge Norris said, “As probate judges, our duty is to issue marriage licenses in accordance with Alabama law and that means we can not legally issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. The recent federal ruling does not change that.”
On Monday, January 26, Judge Granade granted Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R)’s request for a two week stay to her order to give the eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals time to consider whether or not to grant a longer appeal. Judge Granade also clarified her ruling to apply beyond the narrow scope of the case she was ruling on. Judge Granade wrote: “The court hereby ORDERS that the Alabama Attorney General is prohibited from enforcing the Alabama laws which prohibit same-sex marriage. This injunction binds the defendant and all his officers, agents, servants and employees, and others in active concert or participation with any of them, who would seek to enforce the marriage laws of Alabama which prohibit same-sex marriage.”
Chief Justice Roy Moore was removed by State officials as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court after refusing to remove a Ten Commandments display from the Alabama Supreme Court Building in defiance of a lone non-elected federal judge. The people of Alabama sent Moore back to the State’s highest court in 2012, easily besting well-funded opponents, including a Bentley appointee.
The US Constitution’s Supremacy Clause gives Federal law supremacy over all state laws including state constitutions.