What Merit Does Judge Moore's Argument Have In Relation To Gay Marriage In Alabama?
The Constitutional law in Alabama bans marriage between two people of the same sex. It is law. The Amendment was overwhelmingly approved by Alabama’s voters. As a law, there was no decision by the Alabama Supreme Court that the law was unConstitutional.
Now a Federal District Court Judge has made a ruling based on a case in Mobile County. Judge Callie Granade’s ruling was based on the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which states, “Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.
No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
Judge Granade seemed more interested in the partner of the natural mother, having full rights, as any natural parent would over a child that they are raising, than the law and majority voters of Alabama. Surely children are important but one cannot negate a law of a sovereign state to justify the rights of one not recognized as a parent in Alabama. This is unfortunate for this child.
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore pointed out an opinion by Justice Clarence Thomas in Lockhart v Fretwell, 506 U.S. 364 (1993). Lockhart was convicted of capital murder in Arkansas and sentenced to death as the murder had occurred during the commission of a felony (robbery). This was an Arkansas murder case and not a Federal case. Lockhart sought to raise a Federal issue to overturn his death sentence. Justice Thomas wrote a concurring majority opinion in the case though a different reasoning. Justice Thomas said,
“ [S]ince state courts are bound by the Supremacy Clause to obey federal constitutional law, we conclude that a reasonable state trial court would have sustained an objection based on Collins had Fretwell's attorney made one.
I do not understand this statement to mean that there is a reasonable probability that the Arkansas trial court would have found Collins persuasive, and therefore would have chosen to follow it. Instead, the Court of Appeals appears to have been under the impression that the Arkansas trial court would have been compelled to follow Collins by the Supremacy Clause.
It was mistaken. The Supremacy Clause demands that state law yield to federal law, but neither federal supremacy nor any other principle of federal law requires that a state court's interpretation of federal law give way to a (lower) federal court's interpretation. In our federal system, a state trial court's interpretation of federal law is no less authoritative than that of the federal court of appeals in whose circuit the trial court is located. See Steffel v. Thompson, 415 U.S. 452, 482, n. 3 (1974) (REHNQUIST, J., concurring); United States ex rel. Lawrence v. Woods, 432 F.2d 1072, 1075-1076 (CA7 1970), cert. denied, 402 U.S. 983 (1971); Shapiro, State Courts and Federal Declaratory Judgments, 74 Nw.U.L.Rev. 759, 771, 774 (1979). An Arkansas trial court is bound by this Court's (and by the Arkansas Supreme Court's and Arkansas Court of Appeals') interpretation of federal law, but if it follows the Eighth Circuit's interpretation of federal law, it does so only because it chooses to, and not because it must.
Finally, Judge Moore correctly pointed out that Judge Granade’s opinion affected Mobile County and that specific case, even though Judge Granade later said that the opinion affected every Alabama county.
We will have to wait until June to find out what the United States Supreme Court rules.
The pastors at my church addressed this situation and I was pleased as to what they had to say. It was not a political statement and it was more of a challenge to the membership as to how members might interact with one who has unrepentant sin. Without a doubt, the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin. The Bible does not distinguish between severity of sin except the only unpardonable sin is to permanently reject Christ. So lying and murder and theft and homosexuality can be forgiven if the person asks forgiveness of that sin and “seeks to sin no more”. It is a “love the sinner and hate the sin” mentality and I appreciate the fact that I am loved by Christ and others on earth in spite of my sinful (but forgiven) nature. One pastor went on to quote from a book regarding a repentant homosexual who stated that he had found it easier to have relations with a man he met on the street than to get a hug from a church member. That is a very powerful statement and I’m sure all too true. Jesus Christ loves us all regardless of our sin if we will repent. He loves the person but not the filth. Somehow, those of us that call ourselves Christian must rise out of our comfort zone and if we encounter a liar or a murderer or one who has committed adultery or one who practices homosexuality then we must love them as Christ loves us and pray that they will repent of their sin and trust Christ as their Savior. That is what we are called to do regardless of the circumstances that may be around us.
This article is informative only and not meant to be all inclusive. Additionally this article does not serve as legal advice to the reader and does not constitute an attorney- client relationship. The reader should seek counsel from their attorney should any questions exist. "No representation is made that the quality of legal services performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers."
Ronald A. Holtsford, Esq.
Ronald A. Holtsford, LLC
7956 Vaughn Road, Box #124
Montgomery, AL 36116