“You’re not the boss of me!”*
October 5, 2016 (Fault Lines) — While I have suggested that the Supreme Court “STFU,” Chief Justice Roy Moore of Alabama has openly defied the rulings of the Court while acting as a judge. Judicial criticism of the Court is one thing. Open defiance by a judge of the Court’s decisions is quite another matter.
Thoughtful judges in Alabama have made the point clear beyond any reasonable doubt. That is, every judge is bound to follow decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States:
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore was removed from the bench Friday for defying the U.S. Supreme Court on gay marriage, more than a decade after he was ousted for disobeying a federal order to take down a 2 ½-ton monument to the Ten Commandments.
The nine-member Alabama Court of the Judiciary suspended Moore for the remainder of his term. Although the court stopped short of outright removing him as they did in 2003, the punishment has the same effect, ending his period as Alabama’s top jurist.
The judiciary court ruled that Moore defied law already clearly settled by the high court’s Obergefell vs. Hodges ruling when he told Alabama’s probate judges six months later that they were still bound by a 2015 state court order to deny marriage licenses to gays and lesbians.
“Beyond question, at the time he issued the January 6, 2016, order, Chief Justice Roy Moore knew about Obergefell and its clear holding that the United States Constitution protects the right of same-sex couples to marry,” the court wrote in the unanimous decision.
They said Moore also flouted a federal judge’s order that enjoined the judges from enforcing Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.
Kim Chandler, Alabama justice off bench for defying feds on gay marriage, Associated Press (October 1, 2016). (For the full text of the 50-page opinion, which I strongly suggest you read to appreciate, see In the Matter of Roy S. Moore, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Alabama (Alabama Court of the Judiciary, September 30, 2016).
Later Kopf Talks to Moore
Yes, Roy, the Justices are the boss of you and all the rest of us. But, I hear you muttering something. It sounds like,
“But that means we judges would have been bound to follow decisions like Dred Scott, Plessy and Korematsu. What do you say about that Kopf?”
Bud, let’s just say it’s complicated. Leave it at that. Anything more, you wouldn’t understand.
Richard G. Kopf
Senior United States District Judge (NE)
*“You’re not the boss me” is part of a lyric for a great anthem sung by many (perhaps most) American middle school children (at least in spirit).