Chaos in Alabama

Acting in defiance of United States District Court Judge Callie “Ginny” Granade, who ruled last month that the Alabama prohibition against same-sex marriages violates the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution, the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore, yesterday ordered all of the probate judges in the state to refuse to issue same sex marriage licenses.

In a letter, Moore wrote, “Effective immediately, no Probate Judge of the State of Alabama nor any agent or employee of any Alabama Probate Judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent with Article 1, Section 36.03, of the Alabama Constitution or § 30-1-19, Ala. Code 1975,” the state laws banning same-sex marriage.

Until today no same-sex marriage licenses had been issued in Alabama since Judge Granade’s decision because she had issued a stay delaying enforcement of her order until this morning in order to give the Attorney General of the State of Alabama an opportunity to appeal her decision. After granting certiorari to review Alabama’s appeal from Judge Granade’s decision, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) by a vote of 7-2 today rejected Alabama’s request to continue the stay of enforcement pending the outcome of Alabama’s appeal. The SCOTUS’s rejection of Alabama’s request for the stay conflicts with Chief Justice Moore’s order yesterday prohibiting probate judges from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Chaos has ensued as probate judges in some counties have issued same-sex marriage licenses while probate judges in other counties have refused.

The solution is simple. It’s called the Supremacy Clause. Article 6, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution provides,

This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

And that is the end of that.

Chief Justice Roy Moore is the same guy who a few years ago defied a federal judge’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a public building. He conjures up memories of former Governor George Wallace who defied the federal courts. Here’s Wikipedia to toggle your memory,

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy’s administration ordered the U.S. Army’s 2nd Infantry Division from Ft. Benning, Georgia to be prepared to enforce the racial integration of the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. In a vain attempt to halt the enrollment of black students Vivian Malone and James Hood, Governor Wallace stood in front of Foster Auditorium at the University of Alabama on June 11, 1963. This became known as the “Stand in the Schoolhouse Door.”

SCOTUS Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, wrote the dissenting opinion from today’s order denying Alabama’s request for a stay. He said in pertinent part,

Today’s decision represents yet another example of this Court’s increasingly cavalier attitude toward the States. This acquiescence may well be seen as a signal of the Court’s intended resolution of [the gay-marriage] question. This is not the proper way to discharge our [constitutional] responsibilities. And, it is indecorous for this Court to pretend that it is.

It doesn’t take a weather man to tell which way the wind blows.

Congratulations and best wishes to every same-sex couple in Alabama who waited so patiently for this day to finally arrive.

For more information and photos, go here.

10 Responses to Chaos in Alabama

  1. Charles Ramsey says:

    I’m in Alabama now. The state is in violation of title 23 section 109m of the United States code. A law I have enforced in other states.I have been totally stonewalled by the government including St Claire county The state department of transportation the 911 operations center and the attorney general. I posted on a local forum that he should be impeached for not doing his job. perhaps this will get his attention.

  2. Disappointed says:

    The state I live in is trying to pass bill for religious freedom. Basically letting businesses to turn away customers if they don’t like the lifestyle. Yesterday they ignored the will of over 1.3 million voters. Republicans are doing away with State superintendent and will select one themselves. The democrat had more votes than Governor Pence in that election.
    Personally I think people should get a list and boycott the businesses. Me, I’m making plans to make summer home full time home. This state does not deserve my tax money.

    • Malisha says:

      This country is getting so medieval! It shocks me even though by now I expect it.

      A friend of mine who is Jewish worked in a store in Charlottesville, VA in 2007. A customer came in during December and while she was leaving, called out, “Merry Christmas!” and my Jewish friend said to her, “Merry Christmas to you too.” She turned and pulled out a little notebook and said, “OH GOOD, I’m writing your store down as one of the places my church will approve for people to shop for the holidays this year because you said ‘Merry Christmas’ instead of ‘Season’s Greetings’ or ‘Happy Holidays’.” My friend just stood and stared, dumbstruck, but his boss, who had overheard, and who was NOT Jewish, came out from the back of the store and said to the woman, “F*CK YOU, Lady! Cross this store off your bigot list and tell the rest of the people in your church they’re not welcome here either.”

      All in all it was one of the funnier stories of the year.

  3. Malisha says:

    What an effin’ buffoon! Just think: folks like him used to own other folks!!!

  4. Two sides to a story says:

    Looks like the Alabama defiance tradition continues, but never fear. All states will be pushed or pulled into the twenty-first century and eventually, all will be well. Now if only we could push some badly needed positive reform into law enforcement and the judicial system.

    • Amen to that and it would be nice if we didn’t have to fight another Civil War with the South to get there.

      • Eric says:

        I’ve been reading in the right wing blogosphere about the notion of a state supreme court justice only being bound to follow orders of the SCOTUS, and that this is why Moore is ordering the probate courts to defy the Judge Granade’s order. Since a federal court has deemed this a federal equal protection issue, isn’t a state supreme court (and its lower courts) bound to follow even a district court?

        • The right wing blogosphere is wrong.

          Federal court decisions interpreting and applying provisions of the United States Constitution, including its amendments, are binding on state courts. United States District Court Callie Granade ruled that the Alabama statute prohibiting same-sex marriages and the citizen-passed amendment of the Alabama State Constitution also prohibiting same-sex marriages violate the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

          Pursuant to the Supremacy Clause in Article VI, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution, the 14th Amendment is supreme. Since the Alabama laws violate the 14th Amendment, they are invalid and unenforceable.

          Every second-year law student learns about the Supremacy Clause when they take Constitutional Law. Every lawyer, including Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court knows this and that is why the Attorney General for the State of Alabama appealed Judge Granade’s ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and then the to the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Granade stayed (delayed) enforcement of her order to permit the AG to appeal. The AG sought to extend that stay after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, but the SCOTUS denied the request by a vote of 7-2 last Monday.

          That means Judge Moore’s order prohibiting probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples was invalid. He had no authority to contravene Judge Granade’s order and he knew it. He did it for political purposes and should be removed from the bench by the Judicial Conduct Commission, which they did to him previously when he erected and refused to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments outside the courthouse despite an order to do so by the U.S. Supreme Court. (He ran for his position on the Alabama Supreme Court after his removal from office and was elected.)

          • Eric says:

            How about disbarment? In your professional view, does his conduct cross the line professionally, as well? He really seems out of control at this point.

          • I don’t believe disbarment is very likely, especially when it doesn’t happen to prosecutors who obtain convictions of innocent people by suborning perjury and withholding exculpatory evidence from defense counsel.

            Like prosecutors, judges also have absolute immunity from civil liability for judicial decisions they make.

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