Fall Editorial Board 2016
In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Obergefell v. Hodges that same-sex marriage would be legal in all 50 states.
In January, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice attempted to let his personal beliefs supersede the United States Constitution.
He issued an order demanding probate judges across Alabama refrain from issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
Last Wednesday, with a little cross hanging in his suit jacket’s lapel, Chief Justice Moore argued in court why he shouldn’t be punished for his actions in January.
Moore’s authority on the court was removed Friday, but he’s been allowed to retain his title.
A unanimous decision must be reached to remove someone completely from the court, and while Moore’s opponents secured a majority, they couldn’t secure every vote.
This wasn’t the first time Moore cast himself as a crusader for his beliefs.
He was removed from the court in 2003 for defying a federal court order to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the state’s judicial center. Moore ran for Chief Justice again and Alabamians happily let him takes the reigns of the state Judiciary again.
In the 1990s, he caused controversy in Etowah County by displaying a wooden Ten Commandments plaque in his courtroom while he was circuit judge.
Moore’s obsession with letting people know Christianity is inextricably connected to his jurisprudence, to the point of defying the Constitution, has become a badge of honor for him.
One of the reasons Justices sometimes contort themselves into anti-federal positions is because they’ve got to appease their state’s residents to secure the next election.
For Justices in Alabama, that means sometimes making rulings or issuing orders which restrict civil rights or showcase Christianity’s hold in the judicial process.
It may be difficult to say with certainty whether Moore is ignoring the separation of church and state to pander to Alabamian voters, is simply convicted that his beliefs trump the Constitution or if it’s a mixture of both.
But what’s certain is that Moore has shown time and time again his priority isn’t with doing his job.
We believe Moore should resign.
Not only because he willfully threw away the Constitution he swore to protect, but because of the practicality that comes with him vacating his position.
If he holds onto his title and functionless job, for all intents and purposes, Alabama has got one less Justice. If a case goes before the Alabama Supreme Court and ends in a 4-4 decision, the decision of the next lower reigns and the Alabama Supreme Court is rendered functionless.
We’ve seen this sort of judicial stagnation with the United States Supreme Court following the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia.
But a major difference between the two situations is that while President Obama has to deal with a split Congress to get the Supreme Court back to nine justices, Alabama’s Supreme Court can easily be filled if Moore drops his pride and allows his seat to become vacant.
We implore Moore to do good for Alabama, an obligation accentuated by his past wrongs to our state. If Moore steps down from his office, our state will be in a better position to move forward from its three highest positions being hijacked by public deviants.