Roy “Ten Commandments” Moore Is Back With His Constitution-Defying Tricks

Roy Moore, Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, best known for his flouting of the Establishment Clause for refusing, in 2003, to remove a 2.6 ton Ten Commandments monument from the Supreme Court building, is now questioning the jurisdiction of federal courts to decide the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.

After Moore was removed from the bench in that same year, he ran for governor several times and flirted with running for president. He won reelection to the Alabama high court in 2012.

Writing to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley today, Moore complains that last week’s federal court ruling striking down Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage “has raised serious, legitimate concerns about the propriety of federal court jurisdiction over the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.” In the letter, Moore warns that local clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples will be “in defiance of the laws and Constitution of Alabama.”

Moore is attempting to argue for jurisdiction-stripping, a maneuver to deprive a federal court (despite what is required in the Constitution itself) of the ability to decide questions of federal Constitutional law. Moore, of course, cannot do this unilaterally; like his Ten Commandments stunt, he would be in defiance of the federal Constitution with his antics. All his efforts, and all his appeals to religion, can’t change the simple fact that under the Constitution, federal courts, not state courts, decide matters of federal constitutional law.

But Moore believes the Bible trumps the Constitution (or at least his version of the Bible). As Julie Ingersoll has observed, “Moore’s underlying philosophy of law is that only God and the Bible can be the source of moral authority.”

This wouldn’t be the first time that Moore has attempted (utterly unsuccessfully, I might add) to shut down a federal court’s constitutionally-granted jurisdiction and authority over constitutional matters, as I noted in 2011:

After Moore was stripped of his judgeship for defying a federal court order to remove his monument, [his lawyer, Herb] Titus drafted the Constitution Restoration Act, which would have deprived federal courts of jurisdiction in cases challenging a government entity’s or official’s “acknowledgment of God as the sovereign source of law, liberty, or government.” The bill, which did not pass, nonetheless had nine Senate co-sponsors and 50 House co-sponsors; including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Bobby Jindal, now the governor of Louisiana, Nathan Deal, now the governor of Georgia, and Mike Pence, a conservative hero who’s now running for governor of Indiana.

Moore argues in his letter to Bentley today that “The laws of this state have always recognized the Biblical admonition stated by our Lord,” citing Mark 10:6-9 (“But from the beginning of creation God made them male and female. . . What therefore God hath joined together let not man put asunder.”)

When others, like Mike Huckabee, speak loosely of the Supreme Court lacking the authority to decide whether same-sex marriage bans violate the Constitution, it stems from the ideology of Moore and his ilk: that despite what the Constitution says, the Bible comes first. Something tells me, though, Moore’s new stunt won’t fare much better than his last.

  • Seed Planter

    What is so interesting about this article to me, is the condescending tone leveled at Moore on account of him actually looking to the Bible for his source on morality. Of all the things! Let’s take a step back and consider the alternative sources for morality. Once God is taken out of the way, morality becomes subjective, rather than objective. In other words, it is “to each his own.” Rights are no longer considered inalienable, but a privilege given to us by the state and might makes right. Human dignity is determined by the ruling elite. Whoever wields the power, holds the moral authority, to dictate and decree. Is this really the direction where Posner is headed? The term, “public servants” is a direct reference to Christ’s teachings that the leaders must be the servants.

  • whitemellon

    Where have I read something to the effect that if your children disobey you take them to the gates of the city and kill them. Should I go on? Great morality. The judge is on the same nutty flatbed as the Taliban.

  • Andre M

    “Once God is taken out of the way, morality becomes subjective, rather than objective.”

    You’re speaking about the other side of your argument without understanding it. There is a tremendous amount of philosophical thought given to ethics and morality without god. Have you read ANY of it? I’d be surprised if you had.

  • NavyBlues05

    The tone matches the tone Moore has used to demand full adherence to his religious dogma…regardless of the 1st Amendment. State’s rights my ass, mandatory adherence to his interpretation of an ancient manuscript is indicative of mandating a theocracy.

  • Jim Reed

    On the other hand, the Bible is not how we would want to run a country. For example, most of the 10 commandments wouldn’t work for us, in fact the constitution was set up to prevent them from becoming law.

  • Merf

    I really wish we could boot states out of the Union…… Alabamastan has a classic ring to it…

  • Bernie Zaleha

    As a constitutional rights litigator turned sociologist of religion, it is important to recognize that (1) state courts also interpret federal law, and (2) that the only precedents interpreting federal law that are binding on state courts are U.S. Supreme Court precedents. So rulings from the U.S. District Courts in Alabama (Northern, Middle, and Southern), or the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit (the applicable federal appellate court for Alabama) are not binding precedent on any Alabama state court (trial, appellate or supreme). A state court can rely on lower federal court precedents in deciding federal matters, including matters of federal constitutional law, but they needn’t do so. Moore and his ilk simply refuse to admit that Supremacy Clause of the federal constitution exists. That is the nub of the issue. http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/supremacy_clause

  • Craptacular

    “Once God is taken out of the way, morality becomes subjective, rather than objective.” – Seed Planter

    You have proof that “morality from god” is objective? Please share.

  • fiona64

    I think Judge Moore is in need of a remedial civics class if he does not understand how the US Constitution trumps state laws …

  • fiona64

    I think we could boot some of them out collectively and just call the resulting nation Redneckistan.

  • fiona64

    I’m pretty sure you know that we don’t live in a theocracy, right?

  • cgosling

    So which comes first? God or Country? Religion or Democracy? You can’t have both equally unless you are a Muslim living in a Muslim country.

  • cgosling

    No, no, no. Seed Planter, you could not be more wrong. The bible, as you must know, is filled with contradictions and atrocities. Morality has many faces as interpreted by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim religions. How can you, or any one, be so blind as not to see that bibles are books written by ancient and ignorant humans? Whose interpretations do we follow? Morality must be revised to suit societal needs. It must evolve to be applicable and useful. Otherwise, we will have to stone disrespectful children, shell eaters, and those who work on the Sabbath.

  • Seed Planter

    Very interesting. It should be noted that I haven’t said that Moore’s behavior was either right or wrong, just in case anyone was wondering. I’ve been reading some of the follow up comments and the knee jerk reactions by some have not gone unnoticed. Moore = The Taliban??? Really??? It is a simple observable fact that secularism creates a vacuum that leads to radicalism.

    Europe has been a wonderful example of this. Sharia law is being implemented there and is slowly emerging in America now. This is the result of secularism. Secularism is based on the naive principle that it is actually possible to have a group of people who are completely devoid of ideology, and of course, they reserve the right to define what that means (it doesn’t include it’s own adherents, even though they have religious prejudices). In the end, you leave the compass, you are left with the fact that whoever is the strongest or most powerful wins the day and no one is right or wrong, it is only a matter of personal opinion.

    Of course, there are humanistic moral systems, but once again, it is based on personal opinions. I think Thomas Jefferson understood that. There also seems to be a great deal of confusion between moral law and ceremonial law. Interestingly enough, although I do not subscribe to theocracy, Americans were still compelled to attend church even after the Declaration of Independence.

    My point here is, at the end of the day, no judge is without personal prejudices, biases and ideology. Judges are now making laws from the bench, completely disregarding laws that have been implemented by the people. How can they do that? Because today, might makes right. And until America discovers that there are certain values and virtues that are above itself, we will continue to go down the path toward tyranny. No government is above God and that includes judges, even Moore. The judges are not gods and neither are the opinion polls.

    “Morality must be revised to suit societal needs. It must evolve to be applicable and useful” (cgosling). Sounds like another holocaust in the making.

  • Craptacular

    “Secularism is based on the naive principle that it is actually possible to have a group of people who are completely devoid of ideology…” – Seed Planter

    No, secularism is based on the principle that it is possible to have a moral code devoid of religious ideology. But your belief seems to preclude you from seeing/admitting there are any ideologies other than religious.

  • Andre M

    Everything is based on personal opinions. You think that you adhere to some absolute, transcendent code, but you and your community had to interpret the text to get there in the first place. Moreover, you choose that code because you prefer it, clearly.

    Also, I won’t speak for Europe, not living there, but I live in an area of the US with one of its larger Muslim populations, and I have seen no evidence of Sharia law emerging here. Better give us some reputable sources, or shut up and gtfo.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Once God is taken out of the way, morality becomes subjective, rather than objective.
    ————————–
    Several thousand years of moral philosophy contradict you.

  • joetheragman

    Ara, I have a question and not a reply. I read that Nietzsche, when he said God is dead, that people would start to believe in brotherhood, and not a morality based on God. I also read that he predicted the two world wars based on this fact…Communism and Nazism are basically anti religious brotherhoods…I have Nietzsche downloaded on my kindle but have not read him yet. What is your take on that statement if you would not mind a non paid teaching moment

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    I would disagree with y our assessment of Nazism as being an anti-religious brotherhood, but the point is not essential.

    As for Nietzsche, I cannot say that I am a fan — there’s just too much pride, nastiness, and outright racism there for me. His most interesting and valuable contribution was his anticipation of the concept of the unconscious and his recognition of the tremendous human capacity for self-deception, which, of course, is crucial to Freud and the science of depth psychology.

    With respect to morality, however, the question of God is really irrelevant. Even if one is a full-blown theist, one will still need a moral theory of one kind or another, if only for the reasons articulated in Plato’s Euthyphro, which demonstrates that a divine command account of morality is insufficient.

  • joetheragman

    Aravis, that makes sense to me. It was not my assessment, it was an assessment I read and I wanted your “take” on that assessment. As for morality, well I am not sure I agree with your assessment. I agree that you need a moral theory but how you portray God it is not irrelevant in my opinion. A moral theory has to have a marketing ability and those that want to market it…so that it can be put into effect…by more masses than the other….good or bad according to whatever morality you believe.

    I am thinking of Islam. They are selling well and getting stronger, at least in Western Europe.

    Nazi was not an anti religious brotherhood? Hitler was basically a stone cold athiest who admittedly used religion as a pacifier but was not a believer and mocked belief…stone cold pagan from what I have read..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religious_views_of_Adolf_Hitler

  • cgosling

    Dear Seed Planter – If there really is a God you would have a point. But, If there is no God then all we have are the contradictory opinions of ancient superstitious religious elders and the rewritings of scribes. What has that brought us? Inquisitions, wars, bigotry, crusades, slavery, etc. I’d much rather have morality based upon science, reason, humanism, and the rejection of failed fairy tales.

  • Aravis Tarkheena

    Well, the idea is supposed to be that one embraces the moral theory for which the best arguments can be made. It’s not like selling soap.

    As for the Nazis, the overwhelming majority were Christians of one stripe or another — and of course, there was also the Teutonic religious fantasies of some of the higher ups — esp. Himmler and the SS. Paganism is not atheism.

  • Seedy,

    And your evidence that this nut-case judge has actually read the Bible he makes so much noise about is…?

    -dlj.