Roy Moore takes on Ginsburg (and Jefferson, Adams, and Madison)
This month, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg again officiated a same-sex wedding. During the ceremony, Justice Ginsburg pronounced the two men “married by the powers vested in her by the Constitution of the United States.” Maureen Dowd took her remarks as a hint of a much anticipated Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v Hodges. Fellow Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan also officiated a same-sex wedding last year.
However, in a recent interview, Roy Moore, Chief Justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court, claimed that the justices’ officiation of the marriages is unconstitutional, and he therefore calls for their impeachment. Roy Moore, who believes that Justices Kagan and Ginsburg’s actions violate federal rules for judges, declared, “Congress should do something about this.” Specifically, he contends that the justices should have recused themselves from the case in question, since their “impartiality might reasonably be questioned.” But, Supreme Court justices are not covered by the code of conduct that applies to the lower courts. In fact, the justices are free to decide if they should recuse themselves, and no explanations are required. For instance, Justice Thomas did not recuse himself from the health care reform cases, even though his wife lobbied against them. Calls for more transparent rules on Supreme Court recusals have come from both liberals and conservatives.
Moreover, it is remarkable that Roy Moore, whose career as a judge and chief justice is fraught with controversy, puts forth his opinions as if he were beyond reproach. As a circuit court judge, Moore was sued by the ACLU for inappropriately displaying the Ten Commandments in his courtroom and requiring an opening prayer. He was elected to the Alabama Supreme Court in 2000, having run on a platform centered on the connection between God and our law. Moore has written extremely homophobic opinions, such as in D.H. v. H.H., where he declared that the federal government should punish homosexual behavior. In 2004, Moore was removed from office for violating the Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics after refusing a federal court’s order to remove a large monument of the Ten Commandments placed in the rotunda of the court building. He ran unsuccessful bids for President, as well as for Governor of Alabama, before being re-elected to the Alabama Supreme Court in 2012.
Roy Moore is convinced that U.S. law evolved from, and is secondary to, his preferred religious doctrines. He believes that our Founding Fathers would most certainly agree with his position. Yet, evidence to support his contention that the drafters of the Constitution looked to Christianity as a guide is weak. In fact, several quotes from our Founders emphasize just the opposite.
“Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law.” – Thomas Jefferson
“The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion.” – John Adams
“Religion and government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together.” – James Madison
What do you think?