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February 04, 2015 at 1:13 AM
Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has written an advisory letter and memorandum to the state's probate judges saying that they are not required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite the court ruling striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriages.
Moore's letter, dated today, repeats the earlier assertion he made -- that state courts are not bound by federal district courts or federal appeals courts on questions of federal constitutional law.
"Interference with the right of state courts to make independent judgments based on their own view of the U.S. Constitution is a violation of state sovereignty," Moore wrote in the four-page letter.
Letter from Chief Justice Moore to probate judges.pdf
In a 27-page memorandum, Moore writes to the judges: "I hope this memorandum will assist weary, beleaguered, and perplexed probate judges to unravel the meaning of the actions of the federal district court in Mobile, namely that the rulings in the marriage cases do not require you to issue marriage licenses that are illegal under Alabama law."
Chief Justice Moore's memorandum.pdf
On Jan. 23, U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. "Ginny" Granade ruled the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and recognition of same-sex marriages entered in other states was unconstitutional.
She issued a stay, putting her ruling on hold until Feb. 9.
Attorney General Luther Strange asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to put a stay on the ruling pending the state's appeal or a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans, which is expected this summer.
Today, the appeals court turned down the state's request. Strange has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to issue a stay.
Granade, meanwhile, decided to let her stay remain in place until Feb. 9, as originally planned. The judge said probate courts need time to prepare to issue licenses to same-sex couples.
Last week, Moore released a copy of a letter he wrote to Gov. Robert Bentley saying that he intended to recognize the state's same-sex marriage ban and urging the governor to do the same.
In that letter, Moore also wrote that probate judges who issued same-sex marriage licenses would be doing so in defiance of state law.
The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a complaint against Moore with the Judicial Inquiry Commission about the letter, saying that it violated a prohibition against judges making public comments about cases.
Moore said he was not making public comments but was instead acting as he top official in the court system and providing guidance to the probate judges.
The SPLC filed a supplemental complaint today, citing comments Moore made on a radio talk show.
Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) sources on CV blog: