Earlier this week, the Associate Press reported on the objection of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore to a January ruling by U.S. District Judge Callie Granade in Mobile that Alabama’s gay marriage ban violates the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection and due process.
Distinguished Professor Ruthann Robson spoke to the AP about Moore’s objection.
“If what Moore says is true, then no federal court could ever hold a state law, regulation or policy unconstitutional. And the 14th Amendment, then, would be essentially meaningless,” Robson said in an email.
It’s unclear what Moore’s reaction would be if the U.S. Supreme Court determines that gay marriage bans nationwide are unconstitutional when the justices issue their ruling later this year. But Robson pointed to a 1958 decision involving a school desegregation fight in Little Rock, Arkansas, that made it clear states must adhere to the high federal court’s interpretation of the Constitution — a cornerstone of the inherent authority the U.S. government has on constitutional issues over the states.
“If parties defy a direct order, the remedy is contempt,” she said. An official found in contempt can be fined or even jailed.
Robson is an expert on constitutional law and sexuality issues and is the co-editor of the Constitutional Law Professors Blog. Her latest book is Dressing Constitutionally: Hierarchy, Sexuality, and Democracy From Our Hairstyles to Our Shoes.