Understanding the case of Chief Justice Moore requires more than just watching news blurbs on television or videos on social media. Even print media and online articles from news outlets that are considered somewhat reputable will let you down, because there are some key elements that the media just is not telling you.
Let’s go back to January of 2015, when a federal judge in the Southern District of Alabama acted improperly regarding certain gender requirements for marriage in Alabama. George W. Bush nominee Judge Callie Granade ruled wrongly that the gender requirement was null and void across the entire state, thus purporting to legalize same-sex marriage.
Just over a month after that, the Alabama Supreme Court ordered four probate judges to comply with Alabama’s still existing marriage laws, and not Judge Granade’s federal court ruling, in a case brought by Alabama Policy Institute (API). Moore himself was recused from the API case. Shortly thereafter a 5th judge is ordered to comply, Moore again remaining recused. Eventually – with Moore still recused – the court ruled that all Alabama probate judges must uphold Alabama law – a novel idea. The specific law in this case was Alabama’s law defining marriage as the union between one man and one woman.
One key thing to remember is that this all took place before the Supreme Court of the United States issued their decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in June of 2015, which stated their opinion that the gender requirements for marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee should be removed as somehow unconstitutional – whether or not the popular vote and constitutions in those states declared otherwise. In a gross error of inaccuracy, the media reported that same-sex marriage had somehow become “the law of the land”, not only in the states named in the decision, but in the remaining 46 states as well. Acknowledging that Obergefell did nothing to directly interfere with their existing orders in March, the Alabama Supreme Court requested the parties in the API case address the effect of the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision on the Alabama Supreme Court’s “existing orders”.
Meanwhile, in yet another federal court ruling, it was declared that marriage laws in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee were (in this federal judge’s view) invalidated by the “precedent-setting” Obergefell opinion. The issuing judge did acknowledge, however, that other cases were not directly invalidated – Nebraska, Arkansas, and South Dakota, specifically. In the same way, Obergefell was not considered to be directly binding in any way on Alabama and the situation brewing within its borders.
Then Kentucky entered the national spotlight with the refusal of county clerk Kim Davis to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and her subsequent jailing over the matter. This situation worked to bring things closer to the boiling point in Alabama, prompting Nick Williams, a probate judge in Washington County, to file an Emergency Petition for Declaratory Judgment – a petition asking the Alabama Supreme Court to issue an opinion on the effect of Obergefell in the stalled API case. He was subsequently joined by Elmore County Probate Judge John Enslen, who eventually filed his own separate petition. Shortly thereafter, numerous entities began calling for the Alabama Supreme Court to rule on API, including Dr. John Killian and Eunie Smith in an op-ed appropriately entitled, “Where is the Alabama Supreme Court?”. Two briefs were filed by the American College of Pediatricians and CEC for Life also encouraging the court to rule.
A full six months after the briefs, and in spite of multiple petitions, the Alabama Supreme Court continued to forestall a ruling, and so Chief Justice Moore issued his factual Administrative Order. explaining that, “until further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court,” probate judges are still legally bound by orders in the API case. Says Moore, “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 court which continues to deliberate on the matter.” It is now January of 2016, a year since Judge Callie Granade’s fallacious ruling on gender requirements.
Enter the radical opposition: defiant left-wingers, atheists, and LGBT activists – with a transvestite erotic dancer as their spokesman – manufactured a number of complaints against Chief Justice Roy Moore for what they erroneously considered “defiance of the law”, submitting the complaints to the Judicial Inquiry Commission (JIC), who did not dismiss these complaints and in fact hired a know ideological enemy of Moore’s to prosecute the case. In response to this, multiple Alabama conservative groups and pastors filed complaints with the JIC against all nine members of the Alabama Supreme Court for refusing to rule in the API case and leaving Alabama in a complicated legal controversy. This time, however, the JIC speedily dismissed the complaints.
When the Alabama Supreme Court did finally rule on API in March of ‘16, the petitions were dismissed and the March 2015 orders were left undisturbed. Alabama’s marriage law was upheld, a decision either largely ignored or inaccurately reported by the media at large. Time will tell whether or not anyone will show the fortitude required to actually enforce it. The decision is one that even the ACLU has been forced to conceded to – that the SCOTUS same-sex marriage ruling “did not directly rule on Alabama’s constitutional and statutory provisions…because those provisions were not before the Supreme Court” (Aaron-Brush v. State of Alabama). The ACLU also stated that “the Alabama Supreme Court has acted in a manner that leaves in place its earlier order to Alabama’s probate court judges to follow Alabama law with regard to its prohibition of same-sex marriage, notwithstanding Obergefell.” Thus, even the ACLU admits that in March of 2016, Alabama did nothing to change their former orders upholding Alabama’s marriage law. Even Federal Judge Callie Granade was forced to agree that “the Alabama Supreme Court [in API] did not vacate or set aside its earlier … [ruling] directing Alabama’s probate judges to comply with the Alabama [marriage] laws” (Strawser v. Strange).
The Judicial Inquiry Commission, made up of appointees, acted on the ill-founded complaints of radical special interest groups, manufacturing charges in relation to Chief Justice Moore’s factual Administrative Order. Overstepping their jurisdiction, in an attempt to rescind Moore’s order, they filed charges with the appointed Court of the Judiciary which resulted in the automatic suspension of Justice Moore. The Alabama Supreme Court alone had the authority to rescind, not the JIC, hence this end run around the court.
Rather than dismiss unfounded and politically motivated charges against Moore, the JIC set a trial date for September 28, 2016.
The rule of law and the future of the Alabama judiciary are at stake. Will Chief Justice Moore be penalized for a factual administrative order because liberal activists disagree with his views? Or will he be fully acquitted for doing what he was duly elected to do?