Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has released a letter to Gov. Robert Bentley saying that he intends to continue to recognize the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and urging the governor to do so.
Moore’s office released the three-page letter that was delivered to the governor this morning in response to a federal judge’s ruling Friday striking down the ban.
“As Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, I will continue to recognize the Alabama Constitution and the will of the people overwhelmingly expressed in the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment,” Moore wrote.
“I ask you to continue to uphold and support the Alabama Constitution with respect to marriage, both for the welfare of this state and for our posterity,” Moore continued at the end of the letter. “Be advised that I stand with you to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority.”
Bentley issued a statement today after Moore’s letter was released.
“The people of Alabama elected me to uphold our state Constitution, and when I took the oath of office last week, that is what I promised to do,” the governor said.
“The people of Alabama voted in a constitutional amendment to define marriage as being between man and woman. As governor, I must uphold the Constitution. I am disappointed in Friday’s ruling, and I will continue to oppose this ruling. The Federal government must not infringe on the rights of states.”
Moore said the ruling by U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. “Ginny” Granade “raised serious, legitimate concerns about the propriety of federal court jurisdiction” over the Alabama amendment.
“As you know, nothing in the United States Constitution grants the federal government the authority to redefine the institution of marriage,” Moore wrote.
David Kennedy, an attorney for Cari Searcy and Kim McKeand, the couple who successfully challenged the same-sex ban, said he strongly disagreed with what Moore wrote.
“We also know there is no legal support for the position he’s taken,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said the Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution provides that when a federal court with the proper jurisdiction rules that a state law is unconstitutional that state officials are bound to abide by the ruling.
Kennedy mentioned the fact that in 2003, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary removed Moore from the state Supreme Court after he refused to obey a federal judge’s order to remove a Ten Commandments monument that he had placed in the state judicial building.
“I’m disappointed he is again encouraging state officials to be defiant of a lawful federal order,” Kennedy said.
Moore was elected chief justice again in 2012.
State voters approved the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment in 2006, with 81 percent voting in favor of it. The amendment defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman and prohibits the state from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states.
Granade ruled that the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment and a separate state law banning same-sex marriage violated the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Granade issued a 14-day stay in her ruling, as well as on a second ruling Monday in favor of another same-sex couple. The stay expires Feb. 9.
Moore included a biblical passage in his letter, Mark 10:6-9, which describes God’s directive about marriage.
He wrote that he was encouraged that the Alabama Probate Judges Association encouraged its members not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The association’s position was that Friday’s ruling applied only to the couple that filed the lawsuit.
That couple’s lawyers disagreed and compared the association’s position to Gov. George Wallace’s stand in the schoolhouse door to prevent integration at the University of Alabama.
Probate judges in some counties disagreed with the association’s position and indicated they planned to issue licenses. The stay prevented that from happening.