Gay Marriage

Alabama's Chief Justice Faces Possible Ejection over Gay Marriage Resistance

It would be the second time Roy Moore was stripped of his title.


Roy Moore
Bob Daemmrich/Polaris/Newscom

Infamously anti-gay Christian conservative Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is back in the news and may possibly get stripped of his job yet again.

The state has ordered Moore to face trial in September over accusations of ethical violations. In 2015, as federal courts started striking down state-level bans on same-sex marriage recognition, but before the Supreme Court ruled, Moore pushed the governor and the state to ignore any federal court rulings that did not comport with Moore's position against same-sex marriage and said he wanted to "stop judicial tyranny and any opinions issued without constitutional authority."

Moore's attitude toward marriage recognition did not change after the Supreme Court's Obergefell ruling obligating all states to treat gay marriages the same way they treat straight marriages. In January this year, months after the ruling, Moore put out an administrative order insisting that a previous order that Alabama probate judges not administer same-sex marriage licenses was still in effect. He concluded:

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.

This is being perceived as open defiance of the Supreme Court ruling and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) brought up the complaint against Moore. Both sides attempted to prevent a trial. Moore wanted the case dismissed, aruging that he was offering "guidance" to confused probate judges, not orders. SPLC wanted Moore simply removed from office. Instead there will be a trial.

Moore has been suspended since May. If he's stripped from office, it won't be the first time. Moore was removed from office in 2003 by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary for refusing to comply with federal orders to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Judicial Building. He subsequently ran for governor and lost, then was voted back into office as the Alabama chief justice in 2012.

Read more about the fight and protests for and against Moore here and the actual order that prompted the attempt to remove him from office here.

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  1. So, despite Moore explicitly stating he wasn’t instructing judges how to rule, the SPLC claims he was, and only his scalp will do.

    1. “Explicitly stating” something does not in fact make it so.

      1. Never said it did.

        However, he said it to tbe court, so it at least has to be passably believable.

        Besides, the SPLC asserting he’s a liar is a pretty good damned stupid reason to initiate court hearings.

        1. *god damned

  2. Progressive bigotry even Oberlin found unacceptable. Of course she’s suspended with pay, because her crime isn’t antisemitism or hating the West, it’s reflecting badly on a cherished progressive institution.

    In a posting Friday on her personal Facebook account, Karega thanked her supporters and attached a article quoting her representative, identified as Chui Karega, who said the school is “being used as a personal tool of religious extremism by a small number of people.”

    “Oberlin administrative officials have stated that Dr. Karega has performed exceptionally as an educator on the faculty at Oberlin. Her record of teaching has been unblemished,” Chui Karega told the website.

    “Nevertheless, Oberlin”s administration, pandering to the dictates of a handful of vocal and wealthy religious zealots, has set out to push Dr. Karega out of her faculty position at Oberlin,” he said, adding that the professor was placed on administrative leave with “no justification.”

    I don’t hate Jews! Only a lying stinking Jew would say that! I wonder whether Oberlin would apply a similar standard to a conservative instructor. I rather doubt it.

    1. it’s reflecting badly on a cherished progressive institution

      I realize this might be construed as referring to either Oberlin or antisemitism, and in either case you’d be correct.

    2. So I has a confused. Are the vocal and wealthy religious zealots Jews? Because I can tell you that the majority of “vocal and wealthy” Jews are most assuredly NOT religious zealots. Chareidi (Ultra-Orthodox) Jews tend to not be support of the state of Israel, except for Chabad, and even then they just care about the Jews in Israel more than the state. Mainstream Orthodox Jews do tend to be Zionist, but many of them aren’t nearly as wealthy as the secular Jewish community tends to be.

      Is it religious Christians? So are we at the point where the majority religion in this country is strongly defending a small minority? Isn’t that a win for “liberalism”?

      Probably not religious Muslims they are talking about.

      1. It’s a safe bet when a proven antisemite inveighs against an affluent class of shadowy plutocrats, they’re referring to JOOOOOOOZ.

    3. the school is “being used as a personal tool of religious extremism by a small number of people.”

      As opposed to “being used as a personal tool of political extremism by a large number of people”?

      1. Or the personal tool of political extremism by a progressive nutjob.

  3. This is being perceived as open defiance of the Supreme Court ruling…

    Only Chicago, New York City and Washington DC get to defy SCOTUS rulings!

  4. So as much as I don’t personally care for Moore, this is an interesting case. As I understand it, several states are making the argument that Obergefell overturned marriage laws in the 4 states in question related to the 6th Appellate District. So he was addressing the conflict between an Alabama Supreme Court decision which is expressly about Alabama marriage law, and a SCOTUS decision, in which there is an argument to be made that it only applies to 4 states.

    The order is NOT in any way an attack on SCOTUS. It is an order to clear up confusion on what Alabama judges should do based on Moore’s understanding that Obergefell only applies to the 4 states in question. This may be legally sound or not, but how is this an ethics violation?

    So is legal reasoning now down to GAYZ GUD, XTIANS BAD?

    (Disclaimer: As a Germanic neopagan, I have no love for Christianity, and as well have no moral qualms with any number of consenting adults participating in any sexual acts or engaging in any contractual agreements. But this is about legal proceedings and actually reading the details.)

    1. So is legal reasoning now down to GAYZ GUD, XTIANS BAD?

      Kennedy made that abundantly clear in Obergefell.

    2. So is legal reasoning now down to GAYZ GUD, XTIANS BAD?

      I don’t know, but that pretty much sums up Shackford’s reasoning.

      An Islamonazi could be in the process of cutting his head off, and his last dying thought would be still be to curse the Christians.

    3. in which there is an argument to be made that it only applies to 4 states

      In the sense that anything can be argued, perhaps. But since anyone advancing such an argument is either a fool or a liar.

      1. “Everyone who doesn’t see things my way is a fool or a liar, despite my total lack of anything like a credential”

        Seriously, fuck off and die.

        1. Supreme Court decisions have always applied universally, and anyone suggesting they suddenly don’t for this one case either doesn’t know what they’re talking about or is knowingly just making up bullshit reasons to arrive at a conclusion they prefer.

          You can perhaps argue whether the court made the right decision in Obergefell, but the suggestion it only applied to four states is ridiculous.

          1. The remit of the SCOTUS is the entire United States but that doesn’t mean the effect of every decision falls upon every State equally. If SCOTUS says “the 2A means you can’t prohibit handguns categorically” (which it did in Heller), that doesn’t necessarily mean states which prohibit handguns selectively are affected. If 12 states had such bans, then saying the decision only applies in those states is true in a practical sense; although, it also means the other 38 states can’t pass such bans henceforth.

            1. Having said that, this doesn’t seem to be such a case. From Obergefell:

              Held: The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.

          2. Supreme Court decisions have always applied universally


          3. After re-reading Obergefell and Moore’s order (and the history of the cases he referenced) I believe that in this case at least, SCOTUS specifically meant Obergefell to apply to the entire US. It was quite specific about that. So Moore may actually believe what his friends are saying, but I don’t believe that it does hold any legal water.

      2. Yeah, I don’t think there’s much of an argument there.

        If so, then there’s an equally good argument that Heller doesn’t apply outside the District of Columbia.

        1. The Second Amendment applies outside the District of Columbia.

          This is not because of the Heller decision, but because that’s what the Second Amendment *means.*

          And the Second Amendment would still protect an individual right to keep and bear arms even if the Supreme Court denied it.

          In fact, a Supreme Court decision against the Second Amendment would be a usurpation, amending the Constitution under the guise of interpreting it, and such a decision would not in any way relieve public officials of their duty to obey the Second Amendment.

          I mean, does anyone disagree? Does anyone here think that if the Supreme Court tomorrow says the right to keep and bear arms is *not* an individual right, public officials could constitutionally take people’s guns?

        2. The Second Amendment applies outside the District of Columbia.

          As does the 14th.

          If you say a SCOTUS decision only applies in the circuit that the case arose in, then wouldn’t that apply to Obergefell and Heller equally?

          1. I’m saying it doesn’t matter which way Heller went, the Constitution stays the same, and if Heller had gone the other way, or if it’s later overruled, then that simply means the Supreme Court is wrong.

      3. Fool and liar are words I would use to describe someone trying to oust a judge through a process meant to address ethical violations without any evidence of ethical lapses.

    4. Obergfell was a (federal) Sixth Circuit case. Alabama is in the 11th circuit. The SCOTUS ruling was to resolve conflicting rulings by different federal circuits courts and is binding nationwide. The case was, as I understand it (IANAL), a ruling about due process and equal protection under the US Constitution. Much like when SCOTUS decided that DC law could not deny people their 2A rights.

    5. Re: “So is legal reasoning now down to GAYZ GUD, XTIANS BAD?”

      No. In America, all people have the right to their own religious beliefs, but they have no effect under the law, so a ‘friendly amendment’:

      ‘In a non-theocracy like America, legal reasoning now amounts to … GAYZ GUD, XTIANS irrelevant’.

      Just like the law cares not if Rastafarians or Pastafarians or Taoists or Moremen or Buddhists or Sikhs or Wiccans (etc.) “believe in” or “agree” with the secular, civil law, neither does (nor can) it care if Xians are ‘on board’. No faith is being required to perform them if they think/believe it’s ‘wrong’ or a ‘sin’.

      You did say “legal reasoning”. That’s not the same thing as faith or belief.

  5. Here are The Canons of Judicial Ethics for the State of Alabama. Here is the relevant provision on impeachment from the AL Constitution.

    The only thing that could possibly be used to hang Moore is failure to perform his “duty”. That, however, requires a very broad definition of duty which includes deference to SCOTUS in all things; yet that runs flatly contrary to the original intent of either the AL or U.S. Constitution.

    1. Huh, huh, he said “duty.”

  6. Meh… Moore deserves everything coming to him.

    1. …and more?

  7. “Moore’s position against same-sex marriage”

    You mean the state of Alabama’s position.

    Those who believe that the US Supreme Court was correct in the gay marriage decision, or that they were at least applying bona fide legal reasoning in a principled way, will of course oppose Moore.

    But in reality the US Supreme Court’s decision was a blatant usurpation of power, justifiable only on the Nixonian ground that if the Supreme Court does it, that means it’s not illegal.

    For those who realize this truth, then Alabama should treat the US Supreme Court’s decision the same the Wisconsin high court treated the US Supreme Court in the Ableman v. Booth case.

    1. The real question (for now) then is whether one arm of the AL government, namely the Court of the Judiciary, will uphold the Constitution of AL against the ruling of the SCOTUS. My magic 8-ball says: “doubtful”.

      1. That’s because the Alabama establishment took the wrong lesson out of the Jim Crow era.

        Alabama resisted the *Brown v. Board* decision, and the legal elite concluded that, in order to get beyond this racist history, Alabama will in future have to obey to the letter each and every Supreme Court decision.

        But as I mention in this thread, this doctrine has unpleasant implications, since the US Supreme Court has a history of issuing racist decisions which are then defied by state courts.

        The lesson of Alabama’s history is not to be such racists.

        And no, attacking the institution of marriage and the family isn’t striking a blow against racism, quite the opposite.

        1. I don’t disagree, but such is where we are. Although, I would say it is more than likely that the Court of the Judiciary isn’t just mindlessly applying a process sanctified 50 years ago, and instead that its members agree with the decisions they’re issuing. That is, their reasoning is as much results-oriented as it ever has been, and this time they have the appearance of process to use as cover.

          1. Based on its last encounter with Moore, I’m guessing that the Court of the Judiciary wants to enforce strict obedience to the federal courts, regardless of the merits of whatever the federal courts might do.

            When these guys go to conferences, they won’t hear “I understand that your judges are resisting the federal courts, just like the Wisconsin Supreme Court resisted the racist Taney court!”

            No, it’s “how come your hick judges are disobeying the feds again, I though you got past that stuff after George Wallace?”

            They want to be able to say to their dinner companions, “don’t worry, we got rid of that hick Roy Moore.”

        2. May I just poiont out that two people getting married is not “attacking the institution of marriage”.

          It’s JOINING it.

    2. Obergefell deserves to be mocked and defied – not followed. It’s a despicable opinion without any basis in the Constitution.

  8. So I went back and read Obergefell. And unless there is some underlying legal basis that I am not aware of, I am not sure where Moore (and the states referenced) can claim that the decision only applies to the 4 states in question. This case came out of a Circuit Court split, therefore inherently the decision would apply to all Circuits. So it probably is fair to say he is challenging SCOTUS.

    In addition, the 3 8th Circuit cases that are referenced in Moore’s order are either plain wrong (In Waters v Ricketts, the 8th Circuit stayed the injunction against enforcing the same-sex marriage ban just 6 days after Obergefell, and the comment from Jernigans v Crane was taken way out of context.)

    Moore stated he just gave guidance. However, the wording of the Administrative Order issued by his office, seems to imply more than guidance.

    So to sum up:
    I think Moore really is an asshole, and I think he is just making shit up at this point.

    1. I think Moore really is an asshole, and I think he is just making shit up at this point.

      I think this is true and yet one can still say Moore’s original order was not wrong per se. It would be an interesting case, to say the least, if Moore were expelled from the judiciary because he tried to weasel his way out of the effect of his own order, rather than because of the content and legality of the order itself.

    2. I think Moore really is an asshole, and I think he is just making shit up at this point.

      I agree, but the problem arises when, rather than taking the trivial measure of addressing his “issues” with the ruling, and slapping him down properly, they have decided to use an extralegal option and attack him directly.

    3. only supreme court justices are allowed to make shit up!

  9. SPLC wanted Moore simply removed from office.

    Proving that this issue increasingly doesn’t have a good guy. It’s repulsive versus repugnant.

    The funny thing is, if saying that a same sex marriage certificate can just legally be signed by someone other than the usual clerk is “anti-gay”, how does one characterize Moore’s position?

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