Is Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore out of touch with reality? How can a State Supreme Court Judge defy the ruling of a United States District Court? Because he feels he can. Remember Little Rock, Arkansas in 1954 and the marchers in the streets chanting, “2, 4, 6, 8 We don’t want to integrate.” Remember Governor George Wallace blocking black children from entering schools. The battle between Federalism and States’ Rights continues to this day. Think of Obamacare. Think of Gay and Lesbian Rights. Think of Civil Rights. Generally, the Federal Courts prevail. However, State Courts have plenty of power. They make the common law which Federal Courts must follow. State courts can also grant greater rights under State Constitutions to criminal defendants than they have under the United States Constitution.
The Battle goes on. When will it end? Never. It is one of the great designs of the American Legal system. These disputes test and mark the boundaries of our legal system. We can live in a State that prohibits gay marriage and does not offer medical care, like Alabama. Or, we can live in a State that allows gays to marry and was the first to provide medical care, like Massachusetts. But when a State’s view of the law bumps up against a federal law or the U.S. Constitution, the federal courts must weigh in. However it comes out, Chief Judge Moore is just doing what Americans do — stand up for their rights.