Americans United Advises Ala. Governor To Ignore Advice On Same-Sex Marriage From Chief Justice Roy Moore

Controversial Jurist Doesn’t Understand Basics Of U.S. Law, Church-State Watchdog Group Says

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley should ignore Chief Justice Roy Moore’s recent letter on same-sex marriage, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Moore wrote to Bentley Jan. 27 and urged him to continue to deny same-sex couples the right to marry, even though a federal court recently struck down the state’s ban on such marriages.

“As usual, Roy Moore doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “His interpretation of the U.S. Constitution is based on wishful thinking; it has no basis in reality.”

In his letter to Bentley, Moore insisted that the state of Alabama is free to ignore rulings by federal courts. This assertion, Americans United said in a letter to Bentley sent today, is not just obviously incorrect but also offensive.

“Justice Moore’s Tenth-Amendment-nullification arguments are relics straight from the Civil War, embraced only by inhabitants of the deranged right-wing fever-swamps in which the Justice has mired himself,” AU’s letter states. “Even a first-year law student knows that the requirements of the U.S. Constitution trump state law, and you would do well to disregard the Chief Justice’s ramblings.”

Americans United has tangled with Moore in court before and won. In 2001, Americans United, the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama and the Southern Poverty Law Center sued Moore after he erected a Ten Commandments monument at the state Judicial Building in Montgomery.

A federal court struck down the display in 2002, a ruling that was later upheld by the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Moore attempted to defy the ruling and lost his seat for it. (He was reelected as chief justice of the state high court in 2012.)

“The last time we fought Roy Moore in court, he relied on arguments based on his bizarre legal theories and lost badly,” said Ayesha N. Khan, legal director of Americans United. “The state suffered great embarrassment and had to pay hefty legal fees. I’m confident that Gov. Bentley doesn’t want to go through all of that again.”

Added Khan, “In 1963, Gov. George Wallace stood in the doorway of a public university in an effort to block racial integration. In 2015, Moore apparently believes Gov. Bentley should stand in the doorway of a county courthouse to block same-sex marriage. The governor should make it clear that he has no intention of taking bad advice from Roy Moore.” 

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.