Alabama’s Chief Justice Under Fire

​​​​​​​​Date:  May 11, 2016

Host:  Jim Schneider

​Guest:  Mat Staver

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​Mat Staver is the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, an international nonprofit litigation, education and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life and the family. He has authored hundreds of articles, five scholarly law review publications, numerous brochures and booklets and 11 books, most of which focus on constitutional law. His two most recent books are, ‘Eternal Vigilance: Knowing and Protecting Your Religious Freedom’ and ‘Same-Sex Marriage: Putting Every Household at Risk’.

Early in 2015, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore issued an administrative order saying that marriage is still between a man and a woman in Alabama. This order was given as guidance to the probate judges who were confused as to whether or not they could issue same-sex marriage licenses. This was because of a judge in southern Alabama who ruled that the marriage law was unconstitutional. So the question was whether the rest of the probate judges had to follow this even though they’re not parties of the suit.

In March of 2015, the Alabama Supreme Court (without Justice Roy Moore) issued 3 orders. They concluded the same thing; that the law in Alabama of one-man, one-woman marriage should remain and probate judges cannot issue same-sex marriage licenses.

Then in July, the Alabama Supreme Court said that they wanted additional briefing regarding what they should do in light of the recent U.S. Supreme Court 5-4 marriage decision. At that point Liberty Counsel and other parties to the case filed their briefs and waited.

6 months later there still was no ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court. Justice Moore issued an administrative order (due to questions he was receiving from probate judges) stating that the 2015 orders of the Alabama Supreme Court are still in effect, the court is reviewing the matter and will issue an opinion later in the year. That opinion did come as they issued their judgment on it, in essence effectuating those previous orders.

The Alabama Supreme Court has jurisdiction over the authority of a chief justice’s administrative order. If they don’t agree with it, they can reverse it or modify it. They didn’t do that in this instance. So now the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Human Rights Campaign and People for the American Way have filed complaints against Chief Justice Roy Moore. The result is that a group known as the Judicial Inquiry Committee (JIC) has come out with 6 charges. They allege that Chief Justice Roy Moore’s January 2016 administrative order was in violation of the law because the Supreme Court opinion requires that everyone automatically must issue same-sex marriage licenses and the Chief Justice should have said so immediately.

Mat noted that the JIC has been repeatedly warned by the Alabama Supreme Court that it’s not a court of law and cannot make legal determinations. Even the Alabama ACLU, earlier this year, filed a brief before the Federal Court of Appeals governing Alabama. In that case, the Alabama ACLU said that the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage opinion of 2015 did not automatically and immediately require the probate judges to issue same-sex marriage licenses.

Chief Justice Moore is presently suspended from the bench. In addition, Mat believes that confidentiality laws may have been violated by the JIC as critical information in this case was leaked to the media before the charges were actually released last Friday.

More Information:

To contact Alabama Governor Robert Bentley on behalf of Justice Roy Moore call 334-242-7100.

Liberty Counsel


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