Roy S. Moore, pictured above, is the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, the highest authority in the state’s highest court. This week, he used his considerable influence to (again) outlaw gay marriage in Alabama.
Moore seems to believe there’s a chance that Alabama is exempt from the United States Supreme Court Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, which legalized gay marriage nationwide this summer. To that end, he released an administrative order Wednesday, barring Alabama probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples until the state has had a chance to consider the matter. His rationale? Alabama, which had an existing ban on gay marriage when the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision dropped, was not explicitly named in the ruling.
Which law—the bigoted Alabama state ban or the celebrated Supreme Court decision intended to apply to all 50 states—controls, Moore suggests, is anyone’s guess. Moore writes:
“Until further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court, 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.”
Which is to say, Moore can’t say there’s a real argument for banning gay marriage in Alabama (bold guess—there isn’t) but as long as there are conceivably conflicting rulings on the table, he’d prefer it doesn’t happen. To wit:
“I am not at liberty to provide any guidance to Alabama probate judges on the effect of Obergefell on the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court... That issue remains before the entire [Alabama Supreme] Court which continues to deliberate on the matter.”
Moore’s order has the effect of instructing the state’s judges to ignore a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, and it’s not the first time he’s issued a contradictory order against a higher court in a quest to ban gay marriage. As NPR points out, when a federal judge ruled the state’s ban on marriage to be unconstitutional last January, Moore quickly issued an order of his own directing probate judges to ignore it. That order was, unsurprisingly, overturned.
Whether Moore truly believes the law is somehow deficient, or he, I don’t know, just doesn’t like gay people, is in the end irrelevant: Either way, he’s in contempt.