MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that become notorious for creating its list of Christian “hate groups,” has filed a judicial ethics complaint against Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore after he sent a letter to Gov. Robert Bentley, asking that he uphold the state’s Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.
As previously reported, Moore, also known as the “Ten Commandments judge,” sent the letter to Bentley on Tuesday following Friday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade, who declared the amendment unconstitutional.
“As you know, nothing in the United States Constitution grants the federal government the authority to redefine the institution of marriage,” he wrote, stating that the recent ruling raised “serious, legitimate concerns about the propriety of federal court jurisdiction over the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.”
Moore pointed to the Scriptures in his letter, as Jesus declared in Mark 10:6-9 that “from the beginning of creation God made them male and female, [and] for this cause, a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and they twain shall be one flesh.” He also noted a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from 1885, which was reiterated in 1908, which stated that the foundation for marriage and family is “the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony.”
Moore then called upon called upon Bentley defend the state Constitution as he does the same as Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice.
“I ask you to uphold and support the Alabama Constitution with respect to marriage, both for the welfare of this state and for our posterity,” he urged. “Be advised that I will stand with you to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority.”
Bentley issued a statement soon after, vowing to fight to defend Alabama’s Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.
“The people of Alabama elected me to uphold our state Constitution, and when I took the oath of office last week, that is what I promised to do,” the governor said. “The people of Alabama voted in a constitutional amendment to define marriage as being between man and woman. As governor, I must uphold the Constitution. I am disappointed in Friday’s ruling, and I will continue to oppose this ruling. The federal government must not infringe on the rights of states.”
But on Wednesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center, filed a judicial ethics complaint against Moore, requesting that charges be brought against him in the Alabama Court of the Judiciary. In 2003, Southern Poverty Law Center co-founder Morris Dees became the central opponent against Moore’s display of the Ten Commandments on the state Supreme Court grounds, arguing that the chief justice “placed this monument here to acknowledge the sovereignty of God over the affairs of men.”
“It’s clear that Moore is more interested in being the chief pastor of Alabama than the Chief Justice of Alabama,” President Richard Cohen, who co-signed this week’s complaint, told the Montgomery Advisor. “I would hope he would be removed from the bench, but I don’t know the full range of measures the Court of the Judiciary in its wisdom might take.”
The document accuses Moore of issuing public comment on a pending case, showing “complete disregard and disdain” for the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution and “assaulting the authority and integrity of the federal judiciary.”
But Moore said that it is his “duty to advise the lower courts when their jurisdiction is threatened by an unlawful mandate by a federal district court.”
“Our law and Alabama Supreme Court precedent are clear that lower federal and appeals court decisions carry only persuasive authority but are not binding on state judges also sworn to the United States Constitution, and who have equal authority to rule on such matters,” he commented in a statement.
In addition to taking issue with Moore, the Southern Poverty Law Center has been known for compiling its list of what it calls “hate groups” due to their stand for biblical marriage, including Focus on the Family and Family Research Council among its over 1,000 listed organizations.
In 2012, Roy Corkins, who was arrested after entering the offices of Family Research Council with a loaded gun, numerous rounds of ammunition and over a dozen Chick-fil-A sandwiches, told the FBI that his planned massacre was motivated by the “hate group” list on the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) website.
“How did you find [this organization] earlier?” an investigator asked in recorded video footage. “Did you look it up online?”
“Southern Poverty Law lists anti-gay groups,” Corkins replied. “I found them online. I did a little bit of research, went to the website, stuff like that.”
Tony Perkins, who leads Family Research Council, said that while the Southern Poverty Law Center characterizes Christian organizations as “hate groups,” it is instead the Center itself that is being hateful and inciting hatred with its actions.
“Let me be very clear here that Floyd Corkins was responsible for the wounding of one of our colleagues and friends at the Family Research Council,” he stated. “But, I believe he was given a license to do that by a group such as the Southern Poverty Law Center who labeled us a hate group because we defend the family and stand for traditional orthodox Christianity. … I think it’s time for people to realize what the Southern Poverty Law Center is doing with their reckless labeling of organizations they disagree with.”