Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore: U.S. court rulings on gay marriage not binding

"Justice Moore is intoxicated by his own sense of self-righteousness," the head of the Southern Poverty Law Center said.

Frances Burns
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore UPI File Photo by Greg Whitesell
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore UPI File Photo by Greg Whitesell | License Photo

MONTGOMERY, Ala., Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Alabama's controversial Chief Justice Roy Moore says state judges can ignore federal court rulings that the state must recognize same-sex marriage.

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed an ethics complaint last week based on a letter Moore sent Gov. Robert Bentley calling the decision on same-sex marriage "judicial tyranny." Moore said that Alabama probate judges do not have to recognize such marriages.


A federal appeals court refused this week to stay the decision.

The group filed a supplemental complaint Tuesday after Moore told a Birmingham radio host he might not recognize the decision if the U.S. Supreme Court finds that banning gay marriage is unconstitutional.

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"That's a very hard decision because I know there's nothing in the United States Constitution that authorizes the Supreme Court of the United States or any federal court anywhere to misinterpret the word 'marriage' to include something outside that," Moore said on Thursday when host Matt Murphy of WAPI-AM asked him how he would respond.

Moore added that the Constitution does not give the government the power to "redefine marriage."

Moore has been a lightning rod for years. As a circuit judge, he was praised and criticized for keeping a Ten Commandments plaque in his courtroom and opening sessions with a prayer seeking "Divine Guidance" for jurors.

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In 2003, during his first term, Moore was removed as chief justice for refusing to obey a federal court order to get rid of a large Ten Commandments monument outside the Alabama Supreme Court building.

"In 2003, responsible public officials in Alabama had no choice but to remove Chief Justice Moore from office because he refused to comply with a binding federal court order," SPLC President Richard Cohen said. "By now raising the possibility that he may not comply with a United States Supreme Court decision, Moore has proven that he has not learned his lesson. Justice Moore is intoxicated by his own sense of self-righteousness. He doesn't seem to understand that we're a nation of laws, not of men."

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