WASHINGTON — Roy Moore, the conservative chief justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court, said Sunday that if the U.S. Supreme Court decides that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, he would defy the ruling because it would alter God’s “organic law.”
Under Justice Moore’s urging, many Alabama counties defied both a federal judge’s ruling throwing out the state’s gay marriage ban and the U.S. Supreme Court’s refusal to delay the beginning of same-sex marriages last Monday.
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear April arguments on whether state gay marriage bans violate the Constitution’s guarantee of equal treatment under the law. A ruling is expected in June.
“This power over marriage, which came from God under our organic law, is not to be redefined by the United States Supreme Court or any federal court,” Justice Moore told “Fox News Sunday.”
U.S. Supreme Court rulings are considered the last word on American law.
Asked about the Supreme Court possibly backing same-sex marriage, Justice Moore said: “They may do it, but they may do it wrongfully just like they did in” two 19th century rulings: the pro-slavery 1857 Dred Scott decision and the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson ruling backing racial segregation.
“I would not be bound thereby” if the Supreme Court declares a right to gay marriage, Justice Moore said.
“I could recuse or dissent, as a justice from Delaware did in the Dred Scott case in 1857. They ruled black people were property. Should a court today obey such a ruling that is completely contradictory to the Constitution?” Justice Moore said.
Justice Moore said Alabama probate judges who have heeded U.S. District Court Judge Callie Granade’s ruling throwing out the state’s same-sex marriage ban are “breaking the Alabama constitution sanctity-of-marriage amendment, which has not been overturned by the United States Supreme Court.”
“We’ve got this federal intrusion into state sovereignty … occurring right under our nose and nobody is standing up,” Justice Moore said. “Twenty-one states have bowed down to federal court orders when they didn’t have to,” he added, referring to states where gay marriage has gone into effect after federal court rulings.
“We’ve got to understand that what a judge says is not law,” Justice Moore added.
In 2000, Justice Moore gained national attention for installing a monument to the biblical Ten Commandments in the state’s judicial building despite the U.S. Constitution’s requirement for a separation of church and state. He was removed from office three years later after defying a federal order to take it down, but was returned to his post by voters in 2012.