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Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore writes administrative order barring probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples

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This just in:

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore Sunday evening ordered probate judges in the state of Alabama to not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, setting up a potential showdown between Alabama’s chief justice and the federal courts.

The six-page letter, issued hours before same-sex marriage was expected to become legal in Alabama, says “no probate judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent with Article 1, Section 36.03, of the Alabama Constitution or ยง 30-1-19, Ala. Code 1975.” The named sections refer, respectively, to the state’s 2006 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and the 1998 law doing so.

LGBT organizations are still urging couples to get married tomorrow. You can read the memo here.

Thanks to Equality Case Files for these filings


  • 1. RnL2008  |  February 8, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    I'll say it again…..Moore needs to be removed from the bench AGAIN and thrown in jail for inciting a group of State workers to violate a Federal District Judge's ruling……that is in my opinion contempt of a Court order and something NEEDS to be done about this idiot!!!

    If he's taking this action, which is NOT his business……what will he do when SCOTUS rules in our favor come June? My guess is that this action shows his animus and bigotry towards a group of American Citizens who DESERVE to be able to exercise their fundamental right to marry.

  • 2. ReadLearn  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:22 am

    Moore would actually like to be thrown in jail, and be seen as a martyr for God. Not sure how the federal gov't is going to solve this problem. It would be nice to hear from the governor of Alabama and it would be nice for him to come down on the RIGHT side of history. We'll see.

  • 3. jcmeiners  |  February 8, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    I certainly hope the plaintiffs show up at the courthouse tomorrow with US Marshals in tow to demand their marriage license. That should put any thoughts about defying the federal court order that any probate judge may have to rest.

  • 4. VIRick  |  February 8, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    Certain probate judges in Alabama fully intend to follow Judge Granade's federal court orders. Count on it.

  • 5. Ryan K (a.k.a. KELL)  |  February 8, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    Just sad that there are likely probate judges who will be more than happy to line up behind that blatantly illegal order by the Alabame CJ.

  • 6. RnL2008  |  February 8, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    And those that do should be arrested and held on contempt charges UNTIL such time as they feel like DOING their job and their oath!!!

  • 7. SethInMaryland  |  February 8, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    they can't this is illegal , this punk has no control , the federal trumps state law, judge roy moore should be removed from office for making illegal judical oder

  • 8. SethInMaryland  |  February 8, 2015 at 9:41 pm

    this is illegal , they should file to the judge right now

  • 9. Jaesun100  |  February 8, 2015 at 9:42 pm

    That's just the last gasps of dying bigotry, fingers crossed that the Supreme Court does what they did in FL!

  • 10. sfbob  |  February 8, 2015 at 9:47 pm

    Moore's administrative order requires probate judges to comply with laws that have been voided. From a legal perspective his order means absolutely nothing.

  • 11. VIRick  |  February 8, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    "…. requires probate judges to comply with laws that have been voided. From a legal perspective his order means absolutely nothing."


  • 12. SethInMaryland  |  February 8, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    besides a ruling from a state supreme must involve ALL memebers to make a decision, he can't do this

  • 13. Mike_Baltimore  |  February 8, 2015 at 9:55 pm

    I wasn't predicting that SCOTUS would do anything on Monday, thus letting the stay expire.

    However, I think we will soon hear from SCOTUS, and very clearly stating that Article 1, Section 36.03, of the Alabama Constitution and § 30-1-19, Ala. Code 1975 have been deemed to be unConstitutional under the Federal Constitution, therefore SCOTUS also deems them unConstitutional. Any judge, from the Chief Judge down to any other judge (including probate judges) who rely on those specific articles or sections of the state constitution or state law are relying on imaginary articles or sections, and thus their rules, orders, instructions, etc., are invalid.

    This would allow the stay to expire, and ME to become the law in Alabama.

  • 14. SethInMaryland  |  February 8, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    in 4 mins it be over anyway , i hope some counties like jeffereson open up early . we need to get those marrying soon as possible

  • 15. davepCA  |  February 8, 2015 at 10:07 pm

    …aaaaaannnd – it's MONDAY in Alabama now……

  • 16. VIRick  |  February 8, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    We also need some elderly retirees, the older the better, like if they've already been together for 47 years, or whatever, to be first-in-line for a marriage license in as many Alabama counties as possible. In Florida, the media totally ate that up, and really did a first-rate job in impressing upon the general public just how long many same-sex couples had been waiting before they were legally allowed to be married. That media coverage utterly shamed AG Bondi. We haven't heard a word from her since then.

  • 17. SethInMaryland  |  February 8, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    ithis is the perfect example of what not should be on the bench. he's a insane, radical , right wing extremist that should have need been in judical robes

  • 18. SethInMaryland  |  February 8, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    ACLU: Susan Watson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, told The Associated Press she doubted probate judges would defy a federal judge on Moore's behalf. She accused the chief justice of grandstanding. Randall Marshall, attorney for ACLU of Alabama, called the order "a last minute gasp." "I am not aware of anything that gives him the authority to tell probate judges what to do … If he had that authority he would have claimed it much earlier than now," Marshall said. Probate judges across the state have reacted differently to the ruling – some intend to cease the issuance of marriage licenses altogether, others to refuse licenses to same-sex couples and others to issue license to any couple.

  • 19. VIRick  |  February 8, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    "…. others to issue a license to any couple."

    I suspect we can count on a majority of probate judges to be of this particular mind-set, particularly in the more populous, urban counties.

    We already knew that a handful of "back-woods," retrograde counties were not intending to comply with the federal court order, days before Moore opened his mouth yet again.

  • 20. ReadLearn  |  February 8, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    Knowing Alabama, I do think that some probate judges will be afraid of being fired; however, they would be eligible to sue to get their jobs back.

  • 21. SethInMaryland  |  February 8, 2015 at 10:36 pm

    some shocking good news in eastern Europe:Anti-Gay Referendum FAILS Miserable in Slovakia

  • 22. ReadLearn  |  February 8, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    Moore is making a spectacle of Alabama. Wallace standing in the school door all over again. SMH.

  • 23. sfbob  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:39 am

    Before he died, Wallace eventually stated he had been wrong and issued a public apology. Moore will never even consider doing that because he mistakenly believes that although he has taken an oath to protect and defend the US Constitution as well as his state's constitution, he private beliefs, which he uses religion as an excuse for, render him not only immune from any consequences for violating that oath, and infallible as well. He soon will find out that neither of those is the case.

  • 24. ebohlman  |  February 9, 2015 at 3:22 am

    Yep, Moore is a True Believer whereas Wallace was really a panderer; from what I understand he once opposed segregation but then supported it simply because it let him get elected. His "conversion" wasn't truly a change of heart, just dropping a posture that wasn't helping him anymore.

  • 25. Zack12  |  February 8, 2015 at 10:48 pm

    I think the majority of the Alabama probate judges will do their jobs.
    Overall though, Alabama will be like Kansas in that until SCOTUS weighs in, there will be bigots that will drag their feet.

  • 26. VIRick  |  February 8, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    Zack, there is one difference between the two. The main knuckle-draggers in Kansas are at the top of the food-chain, namely Governor Brownback and AG Schmidt, whereas in Alabama, they're down at the county level, along with one extraneous ass-hat grandstanding for what he perceives to be his own personal political gain..

  • 27. Zack12  |  February 8, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    Tis true, as it stands it is far worse in Kansas in Alabama for the moment.

  • 28. flyerguy77  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:04 am

    I can't wait until tomorrow morning I'm off to bed in a few and setting my alarm for 7 am.. its midnight here in CA I'm suspecting we will hear something between 5 am to 8 am PST from SCOTUS and see what happens next in Alabama.. I'm predicting Judge Grande will be writing another order, a STRONGER ONE by end of Wednesday if there is no stay from SCOTUS.. Chief Moore is IN DEEP SHIT AFTER what he pulled this evening..

  • 29. davepCA  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:12 am

    Same here. I'm setting the alarm a bit early to check in here when it's getting close to 8 AM Alabama time.

    Scottie – do you have any plans to get out to one of the locations that is expected to be marrying couples in the morning?

  • 30. montezuma58  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:14 am

    Roy is abusing his administrative role in an attempt to impose a judicial role. His administrative duties deal with things such as operating hours of courts and making sure facilities are adequate. It's not a back door he can use to issue rulings or orders outside of cases before his courts.

    His position on the Supreme Court is not supervisory in nature. He doesn't get to tell other judges, who are independently elected, how to do their jobs. He is also attempting to order the governor around which most assuredly is not one of Moore's administrative duties.

  • 31. Tony MinasTirith  |  February 9, 2015 at 3:12 am

    Certain news outlets have reported that Gov. Bently will comment Monday morning on Judge Moore's so called "order". Let's hope the Governor sees where this is all going to end in June and that at this point, resistance is futile. Let's hope Gov. Bently and his inner circle have concluded that he can be the 21st century's George Wallace and Orval Faubus (Gov of Arkansas) who blocked the sweet little old gay couple at the court house doors…or he can be the Governor who didn't uphold prejudice, didn't defy the Federal Judiciary in vain or for political theater. Let's hope he chooses to go down on the right side of history and say as the top Govt. Official of Alabama he is urging all Alabamans to comply with the law and with the current Federal Court Order. All Alabamans are in the nations spotlight, this is Alabama's moment to show the world that even when they disagree, Alabamans treat one another with dignity and respect and respect the rule of law. He should say, the courts have spoken and until such time as the district court is reversed, All Alabamans are subject to the rule of law and will follow the legitimate orders of the Federal Court. That's what I hope Gov. Bently will say at 7am Alabama time

    … Or he can be a putz and say Alabama will not submit… You'll have gay marriages only over my and Judge Moore's dead bodies. That's one other way to go.

    Happy Wedding Day! Mon 02/09/15

  • 32. Tony MinasTirith  |  February 9, 2015 at 3:55 am

    I hope SCOTUS makes no announcement early this morning on Alabama's petition, thus allowing judge Grenade's stay to expire. But then in the late morning, say 11AM, they issue a ruling such as this:

    "Alabama's request for an indefinite stay against the district court's injunction is DENIED. The injunction of the court below is in effect for the entire state of Alabama until such time the lower court's order is reversed by the Eleventh Circuit or by this Court.

    Non compliance with a Federal Court Order or injunction by those necessarily bound by the court's order may be considered in contempt of Court.
    It is so ORDERED."

    If I were Kennedy, that is how I would take care of Moore.

  • 33. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 4:13 am

    He is completely derailed at this point, he is threatening probate judge snow in a last minute attempt to stop the laws from being enforced. He should be immediately trialed for judicial misconduct and if possible held in contempt of court (or the probate judges who listen to him). This man is a lunatic and needs to be barred from serving on any bench in the future.

  • 34. Tony MinasTirith  |  February 9, 2015 at 4:46 am

    Can anyone say… megalomaniac?

    If Bently contradicts him (Moore), Moore will fire off a letter ordering the Montgomery Sheriff to arrest the Governor. That's what's coming next. This guy is getting ready to blow a gasket.

  • 35. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 4:53 am

    I am pretty sure Bentley would love to hide behind Moore's order for his own political gains. I think it's a 50/50 situation here on whether he will abide by the law or pull a George Wallace.

  • 36. Tony MinasTirith  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:04 am

    Is Bentley that Daft that he thinks there's a high possibility he'd come out on top by defying a federal court? If the Supremes don't issue a stay any minute now, they are sending a clear message. Does he think Eric Holder won't step in to correct his lawlessness? Is he THAT stupid?

    Obama's probably shaking his head and asking Holder and Kerry, can we just kick Alabama out of the Union?

  • 37. DACiowan  |  February 9, 2015 at 4:42 am

    Wikipedia has already turned Alabama marriage blue. Tough crap, Moore!

  • 38. samg68  |  February 9, 2015 at 4:52 am

    Yep it's over, Wikipedia has spoken.

  • 39. Waxr  |  February 9, 2015 at 4:54 am

    In other states, there was often noise and hollering from top officials, but once the marriages got under way, there was no serious problems and everything went smoothly. My bet is that once the marriages gets underway, everything will go smoothly in Alabama.

  • 40. Tony MinasTirith  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:11 am

    Not like this. And no one suggesting that a district court has no authority over state laws. This is a horse of a different color. it will all depend if Moore chickens out first or if The Governor and a large majority of the probate judges and state legislators all stand in defiance behind Moore's black Robe. It's Alabana, so I don't know which way they'll go. We all know which way they went when the Feds took away their anti-miscegenation laws. Federal troops with guns on Alabama soil. Time for Bentley to capitulate.

  • 41. montezuma58  |  February 9, 2015 at 4:58 am

    This will be a good source to check out updates throughout the day.

  • 42. Tony MinasTirith  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:35 am


  • 43. DACiowan  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:42 am

    Losing Tuscaloosa County today hurts; that's the main college town and I figured it would be a more accepting county.

  • 44. DaveM_OH  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:44 am

    Better Call Saul^WJoyce:

    And Chester.
    Northern District of Alabama (N/AL)
    U.S. Marshal: Chester Martin Keely
    1729 N. 5th Avenue, Room 240
    Birmingham, AL 35203
    (205) 776-6200

  • 45. Waxr  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:01 am

    Wikipedia map has Alabama as a ME state.

  • 46. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:17 am

    Do we know the exact time courthouses open in Alabama ?

  • 47. netoschultz  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:26 am

    Tuscaloosa County probate judge Hardy McCullom said Monday morning he will not issue same-sex marriage licenses today, because of the order from Chief Justice Moore.

  • 48. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:47 am

    And here comes the first one to be held
    In contempt of court.

  • 49. montezuma58  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:54 am

    "The duties and responsibilities of the Probate Judge are many and varied. Some duties are administrative in nature, others are judicial and some are legislative in character.

    The Probate Judge is recognized in a special category, because the Probate Judge has legal functions as well as many political and administrative roles. The Code of Alabama 1975 and its supplements contain the general statutory provision affecting the Probate Office. The State Legislature has passed many local acts and general acts affecting the Office of the Judge of Probate."

    So is the Tuscaloosa county probate judge going to claim issuing marriage licenses is a judicial function.

  • 50. Tony MinasTirith  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:27 am

    Where can we watch a live news steam of this mornings events? At least a Twitter feed?
    Still no word from SCOTUS? 35 minutes to lift off!

  • 51. DaveM_OH  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:38 am

  • 52. Tony MinasTirith  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:44 am

    Thanks! You're awesome Dave!

  • 53. netoschultz  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:44 am

    A public notice was posted on the Facebook page of Elmore County, Alabama, Probate Judge John Emerson Enslen, saying the court will not issue same sex licenses Monday.
    In the notice posted around midnight, Enslen says "Based on an order issued today by Justice Roy Moore, Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, the Probate Office of Elmore County will NOT be issuing same sex marriage licenses tomorrow as ordered by the Federal District Court for the Southern District of Alabama. This policy of not issuing same sex marriage licenses will remain in effect pending further instructions to the contrary, if any, from those having superior authoritative jurisdiction over the matter."

  • 54. DACiowan  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:47 am

    Jeez, easy with the fire and brimstone. That statement reads more like a tantrum dressed like a bad sermon than a legal memo.

  • 55. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:49 am

    2nd one to be held in contempt of court. Gosh they do love some good lawsuits coming their way don't they ?

  • 56. MichaelGrabow  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:50 am

    "I will never perform a so-called same-sex marriage. A federal court can put me in jail for life, and I will still never perform a so-called same-sex marriage."

    I say he would last one week before he changed his mind.

  • 57. MichaelGrabow  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:51 am

    Also, there is a poll to the right hand side of that article. Everyone should take it.

  • 58. DaveM_OH  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:51 am

    This would appear to be the next step:

    A writ of assistance is an order directing that a party convey, deliver, or turn over a deed, document, or right of ownership.

  • 59. netoschultz  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:51 am

    A couple seeking a same sex marriage license Monday in Houston County was denied amid confusion regarding the issue. WDHN’s Breanna Barrs reports Probate Judge Patrick Davenport told the couple that he would contact them when he has clarity regarding two conflicting orders dealing with same sex marriage licenses. He promised to contact the couple when he obtains legal clarification.

    Whether same sex marriage licenses will be issued Monday is up in the air following an order issued by the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. Judge Roy Moore, who oversees all state court operations, ordered late Sunday that probate judges not to issue same sex marriage licenses.

    However, the order fails to clarify the issue and is leaving probate judge’s scratching their heads. A recent stay of a federal judge’s ruling that essentially lifted the state ban on same sex marriages unconstitutional has been lifted.

  • 60. DaveM_OH  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:55 am

    Birmingham is go:

    CONFIRMED: Jefferson County (Birmingham) will be issuing #marriage licenses at 8am!

  • 61. netoschultz  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:56 am

    7-2 VOTE

  • 62. DaveM_OH  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:56 am


  • 63. Rick55845  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:57 am

    Gee, I wonder which Justices dissented? lol.

  • 64. JayJonson  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:29 am

    We do NOT know that the vote was 7-2! We know that at least 5 justices voted to deny the petition to extend the stay and that 2 justices issued a dissent.

  • 65. DaveM_OH  |  February 9, 2015 at 5:59 am

    SCOTUS Denies stay (Confirmed!)
    #scotus denied stay of same-sex marriages in Alabama. Thomas and Scalia would have granted.

  • 66. davepCA  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:09 am

    JUst saw new tweet with image of the stay denial document – it's legit!! Stay Denied by SCOTUS!

  • 67. Tony MinasTirith  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:00 am

    SCOTUS denies Alabamas stay request. Scalia and Thomas dissent

  • 68. DaveM_OH  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:00 am

    Text of Thomas' dissent:

  • 69. Zack12  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:05 am

    This is pretty much the ballgame folks.

  • 70. netoschultz  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:05 am

    Why didn't Alito join Thomas and Scalia? Maybe he will concurr in June with the majority ruling saying it's unconstitucional because it also bans civil unions and domestic partnership

  • 71. Rick55845  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:08 am

    Alito didn't join Thomas' and Scalia's dissent, but unless the voting is made public, I don't think you can conclude that he didn't vote with them to grant the stay.

    I know the tweets are saying it was a 7-2 vote to deny the stay, but is that known for sure?

  • 72. netoschultz  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:10 am

    If he is 100% bigot, i don't think he would have problem joining Thomas and Scalia

  • 73. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:07 am

    Finally ! I do want to read Thomas's rant in full though but the order list is not updated yet !

  • 74. netoschultz  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:09 am

  • 75. Sagesse  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:15 am

    No reference to Judge Moore.

  • 76. Rick55845  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:17 am

    There's no reason there would be. Moore is talking out of turn. The matter of marriage equality wasn't before him, and he had nothing to do with the request for a stay.

  • 77. Sagesse  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:28 am

    Agree completely. However, there's nothing to stop Thomas from saying anything he wants in his dissent, and he does mention states' rights and the will of the people.

  • 78. davepCA  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:11 am

    SO – Are couples getting married yet???

  • 79. sfbob  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:16 am

    Extra helping of joy: The latest events guarantee that the evil mother in Hard vs Strange has no prayer of getting her hands on the entirety of her late son's estate. She'll have to share it with her son's widower or, better still at least if his will has a poison pill provision in it will get perhaps a dollar, because the state will have to recognize their marriage.

  • 80. RQO  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:19 am

    Kinda like taking the ruby slippers off the feet sticking out from under the house.

  • 81. Tony MinasTirith  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:39 am


  • 82. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:18 am

    Poor Thomas…He is so mad the court shows "no respect to the people of Alabama and their elected representatives". And Alito did not join that "beautiful" "states right boo hoo" tantrum really ?

  • 83. netoschultz  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:20 am

    This acquiescence may well be seen as a signal of the Court’s
    intended resolution of that question.

    Let's hope you are right, Thomas!

  • 84. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:23 am

    That's the part I noticed as well. Thomas knows something lol !

  • 85. Sagesse  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:32 am

    Alito has not joined Thomas and Scalia in any of their dissents since October from denial of stays. Doesn't mean he hasn't voted with them.

  • 86. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:37 am

    And my question is why ? This is a dissent that should definately appeal to Alito's judicial insticts. Let's assume he dissented why would he not join it or write another dissent if he disagreed with details of this one ?

  • 87. Tony MinasTirith  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:27 am

    Thomas says he "respectfully" dissents from the courts denial of Alabama's stay request.. yet his three page diatribe was anything but respectful as it chides the majority for its decision.

    And of all the Justices… Thomas is the one who benefitted from the Loving/Virginia '67 Decision with his miscegenated marriage. Go Figure…

    Congratulations ALABAMA and everyone getting married today!
    It's all over. 2015, USA becomes an Equal Marriage Country!

  • 88. Tony MinasTirith  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:29 am

    Roy Moore and Brian Brown can go cry on the corner now.

  • 89.  |  August 1, 2015 at 9:29 am

    besides a ruling from a state supreme must involve ALL memebers to make a decision, he can't do this

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