Alabama’s state Chief Justice, Roy S. Moore, on Tuesday urged the governor of his state to join with him in stopping “the judicial tyranny” of federal courts ruling in favor of same-sex marriage. In a three-page letter to Governor Robert Bentley, the state’s highest judicial officer argued that state courts are not bound by rulings by the federal trial and appeals courts.
Moore has often been embroiled in public controversy, perhaps most famously for his defiant display of a sizeable monument to the Ten Commandments in the state courts building’s lobby. His new challenge to authority came in response to a federal trial judge’s ruling this week striking down Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage — a decision that the state is now challenging in an appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
Citing a letter by Thomas Jefferson to a friend in 1825, protesting the supposed efforts of the national government to strip state governments of all of their powers, Chief Justice Moore said those thoughts “precisely express my sentiments on this occasion. Our state constitution and our morality are under attack by a federal court decision that has no basis in the Constitution of the United States.”
Noting in the U.S. Constitution, he argued, “grants to the federal government the authority to desecrate the institution of marriage….Today, the destruction of [man-woman marriage] is upon us by federal courts using specious pretexts based on the equal protection, due process, and full faith and credit clauses of the United States Constitution.”
He took note of the string of federal court decisions in the past nineteen months nullifying state bans on same-sex marriage, and commented: “If we are to preserve that reverent morality which is our source of all beneficent progress in social and political improvement, then we must act to oppose such tyranny!”
The state jurist praised a group of probate judges in the state who had refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but condemned unnamed state judges who, he said, had indicated they would help carry out the federal court ruling in favor of such marriages.
Urging the governor “to continue to uphold and support” the state constitution, which bans same-sex marriage, Chief Justice Moore said that “I stand with you to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority.”
It was unclear what powers the judge might claim to have to thwart the rulings by federal courts in his state or region.