In blatant disregard for the law of the land, this week Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy S. Moore outlawed gay marriage in the Yellowhammer State.
On Wednesday, Moore—who last year told CNN that legalizing gay marriage was “even worse” than segregation—released an administrative order prohibiting Alabama probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples until the state properly considers the issue.
“Until further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court,” Moore wrote, “the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court that Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act remain in full force and effect.”
Moore’s missive comes after the United States Supreme Court ruled last summer that gay marriage was to be extended throughout the United States, in the 5-4 Obergefell v. Hodges case. Moore says that since Alabama was not explicitly mentioned in the ruling (several other states such as Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio were), the ruling’s authority in his state is unclear.
In other words, Moore’s words are bucking the authority of the highest federal court in the country—and asking that Alabama judges violate the U.S. Constitution along the way.
This isn’t the first time Moore has defied the rulings of a higher court. In January 2015, an Alabama federal judge deemed the state’s ban on gay marriage to be unconstitutional. Moore, ever the contrarian, issued a rebuke, telling probate judges to ignore it, NPR reported. Moore’s motion was overturned.
In spite of the fact that Moore’s order has no real legal standing, Alabama papers are reporting that it’s already having effects in the real world. “At least a few probate judges have shut down same-sex marriage or all marriage licensing in response to Moore’s order,” The Huntsville Times wrote. “Several others, including Jefferson, Shelby and Montgomery counties, say they are continuing to issue licenses to everyone.”
Meanwhile, Alabama federal prosecutors are firing back at Moore, saying that he is directly defying the U.S. Supreme Court. “We have grave concerns about this order, which directs Alabama probate judges to disobey the ruling of the Supreme Court,” U.S. Attorneys Joyce White Vance of the Northern District of Alabama and Kenyen Brown of the Southern District of Alabama said. “Government officials are free to disagree with the law, but not to disobey it. This issue has been decided by the highest court in the land and Alabama must follow that law.”
University of Alabama Law Professor Ron Krotoszynski Jr. took it one step further, comparing Moore to former Alabama Governor George Wallace. After the Supreme Court deemed “separate but equal” unconstitutional in Brown v. Board of Education, Wallace told boards of education to maintain school segregation.
“Wallace’s order didn’t trump the Supreme Court then and I don’t think Moore’s order is going to trump the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell,” Krotoszynski told the Times. “Politics is not law.”