Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore
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Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, in an administrative order issued on Wednesday morning, announced that a ban on granting same-sex couples’ marriages remains in effect in Alabama until a specific court order is issued to end the ban.
Specifically, Moore wrote that a prior order of the Alabama Supreme Court that barred probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples remains in effect.
The U.S. Supreme Court decision from this past June in Obergefell v. Hodges, Moore wrote, only specifically struck down the marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. While it is precedent that would be applicable to other states’ bans, he wrote, it is not a specific order that would end Alabama’s ban.
"[A]n order issued by a court with jurisdiction over the subject matter and person must be obeyed by the parties until it is reversed by orderly and proper proceedings," he explained.
Moore concluded: "Until further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court, the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court that Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act remain in full force and effect."
Moore stated that he issued the order as the head of the Unified Judicial System of Alabama and under his authority "to correct or alleviate any condition or situation adversely affecting the administration of justice within the state" or take other action "necessary for the orderly administration of justice within the state."
There was no mention in Moore’s order of the federal case overseen by U.S. District Court Judge Callie Granade that has challenged the Alabama ban. In that case, Granade in May 2015 issued a preliminary injunction striking down the amendment and act referenced by Moore in his administrative order. The order applied to all probate judges in the state because it was the result of a class action lawsuit that included all probate judges as the defendant class but was put on hold pending the outcome of the Supreme Court’s Obergefell case.
After the Obergefell decision was issued, Granade issued a clarification order on July 1, 2015, noting that "the preliminary injunction is now in effect and binding on all members of the Defendant Class."
An attempt by one probate judge to appeal Granade’s ruling was dismissed as moot by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals on Oct. 20, 2015, because, the court wrote "the Alabama Supreme Court’s order was abrogated by the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.