ALABAMA: Liberty Counsel Advises State Supreme Court On Defying Obergefell

Via Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog:

Asked by the Alabama Supreme Court for advice on what to do next on same-sex marriage, two conservative advocacy groups in the state have urged both direct and indirect resistance to the Supreme Court’s ruling mandating a constitutional right for gays and lesbians to wed. The state court, the groups argued, has the constitutional power to refuse even to accept what the Justices have done, and has a constitutional duty to insulate state officials from legal risk if they do not obey the decision based on a religious objection.

The thirty-three-page brief was filed on Monday by the Alabama Policy Institution, a think tank, and by the Alabama Citizens Action Program, an inter-denominational church support group, which earlier had persuaded the state’s highest court to block all of the state’s sixty-eight probate judges from issuing any marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even though all of them were under an order to do so by a federal judge in Mobile.

Depending on what the state court now does, it could set up a new federal-state collision that potentially could go to the Supreme Court. Lower federal courts could take direct action against state trial court judges, but only the Supreme Court could review a decision by the Alabama Supreme Court on a federal constitutional issue.

Co-authoring the brief is Liberty Counsel head Mat Staver.

RELATED: Thirteen Alabama counties have stopped issuing all marriage licenses.

The 13 counties that have stopped issuing licenses are home to an estimated 464 same-sex couples, 20% of which are raising children. A total of 441,437 people live within the impacted counties and a majority of these counties have poverty rates exceeding the state average of 18.6%. “These closures are causing unnecessary complications and burdens for any couple – gay or straight – who seeks to marry in their home county. Why should a couple have to drive for over an hour to get a marriage license? What if a couple can’t marry because they have an unreliable car, or they can’t get the time off work? We urge all counties in Alabama to immediately begin issuing licenses to same-sex and opposite-sex couples,” says Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara of the Campaign for Southern Equality, which promotes LGBT equality across the South.

  • Homo Erectus

    You lost the war. Give it up, fer chrissakes.

    • Gustav2

      Um…they are still fighting the little war they lost in the 1860’s.

      • Todd20036

        Ah, the Tastes Great/Less Filling conflict.

        I read about that in school.

      • Bj Lincoln

        I know! What is that about? I am married to a southern gal. She was born and bred to think they should have won. We are the epitome of north vs south. I’m from Ohio, she’s from NC. My last name is Lincoln and her’s is Jackson. We hyphenated our name when we got married to Jackson-Lincoln. We argue over the whole first flight thing too.

  • Billanddogs

    Disobeying the law, based on advice from the Liberty Counsel? What could possibly go wrong?

    • Gustav2

      Unless these outside agitators are willing to go to jail with you, don’t let them act all MLK, Jr.

    • HadenoughBS

      I can’t imagine the “standing” of this extremist right wing “law firm” is very high in the eyes of SCOTUS. But, hell, it doesn’t matter to Staver and his Liberty Counsel associates as long as the money rolls in from governmental treasuries to fund their ever-growing list of failed consultations. Therefore, public taxpayers have no one to blame but the idiotic government entities which employ these literal losers to advise them on prolonging their homophobic actions against their gay and lesbian citizens in defiance of SCOTUS.

      • cleos_mom

        Public taxpayers do have someone to blame: themselves. It’s not a coincidence that these expensive legal gimmicks are going down in blatantly homophobic states. I’m sure they’re applauded in more than one pulpit, to choruses of “Amen.”

    • I love that yesterday Staver and his Liberty Counsel were characterized in Arkansas as “outside agitators.” Next best thing they can be called is “carpet baggers.”

    • Steverino

      Liberty Counsel is like Donald Trump: the gift that keeps on giving.

      (as well as the grift that keeps on grifting)

      • TampaZeke

        Yeah, both are all knowing in their minds but BANKRUPT in their practice.

    • TampaZeke

      Yeah, is it really wise to take legal advice on marriage equality from a legal team that’s record is like 0 and 50 on cases that they prosecuted and defended on this very subject?

      Of course wisdom doesn’t seem to factor into any of the decisions that homophoblicans (Ha! I just made that up!) make.

    • Cattleya1

      So Staver is a duly licensed lawyer somewhere in the US? Which state Bar (s) license an attorney who openly advocates and presumably makes money telling clients they can safely ignore any ruling of the US Supreme Court they don’t like? It not only disregards the constitutional establishment of the SCOTUS as court of last recourse, but also disregards the first sentence of the Preamble. Isn’t it about time someone challenged his legal ethics before whichever Bars license him. He is selling chaos to anyone who will buy.

  • Gustav2

    “Why should a couple have to drive for over an hour to get a marriage license? What if a couple can’t marry because they have an unreliable car, or they can’t get the time off work?”

    That argument is not working for those seeking an abortion in the state.

    • fuow

      Yup, you’re right.
      It’s also a clear result of far too many young women and gay men not bothering to vote.

      • doninkansas

        And brainwashed gltb voting against their own interests. Any time I hear of one of us voting Republican I want to vomit.

  • Marc

    Mad Libs time!: “Don’t accept any __(noun)__ from __(noun)__.” I’m going with “advice” and “Liberty Council.”

  • D. J.

    A local think tank in Alabama…..the irony. Alabama Policy Institute…..the AFA by another name.
    We need to start a new game…..Where in the hell is Mat Staver?

    • People4Humanity

      “Where in the hell is Mat Staver?”

  • Pollos Hermanos

    I’m not sure why somebody isn’t trying to have Mat Staver disbarred for advising something like this.

    • Marc

      I appreciate having their idiocy front and center. What I can’t figure out is why anyone would willingly seek out their services.

    • D. J.

      They will need to disbar his wife Anita Staver as well.

  • sw42

    This is just sad. So much of this stuff is funny or outrageous, this is just sad. Really, Alabama Supreme Court? You had to reach out for advice on how to carry out the law that the Supreme Court just passed? I like to think even Scalia is horrified, but he’s not. He’s probably feeling really smug right now.

    • Baltimatt

      Exactly. What’s the point of asking these hate groups for advice? If the Alabama Supreme Court can’t figure out a SCOTUS ruling by itself, it sounds like it isn’t qualified to do anything.

      • Bruno

        I fear it’s to give themselves cover to do something horrible and unlawful.

        • Nexus1

          What do you think will be the next legal steps if the Alabama Supreme Court follows Liberty Counsels ‘advice’?

          • Bruno

            Maybe the Jefferson County probate judge could appeal it to SCOTUS? I think the AL SC won’t go as far as to order judges not to follow Obergefell, but they’ll probably allow them to continue not granting licenses and maybe even go further in some sort of “religious liberty” direction.

          • Nexus1

            Thanks for your theory. The sooner this whole religious liberty bullshit goes to the SC the better. This issue is going to be used to make so much trouble for LGBT citizens. I would sooo love for the SC to give a gigantic smackdown to all of this ‘disobey the Supreme Court’ nonsense.

      • Steverino

        They’re grasping at straw men.

    • JT

      Scumbag Scalia has been stoking this crap for years with his extremist dissents. He’s just happy to think that it may increase his speaker’s fees in the South. The man is totally without integrity.

    • cleos_mom

      Well, someone had to read the SCOTUS decision to them.

    • People4Humanity

      Antonin does “smug” sO well.

      • David Walker

        Smug as a bug in a rug.

        • Doug105

          More of a blood sucking bed bug.

        • doninkansas

          Smug as a crab in a pubic bush.

      • GreatLakeSailor

        If you haven’t seen this yet, Scalia Poetry Slam.
        https://vimeo.com/132403342

  • HoneyBoySmith

    This is “Liberty” Counsel’s strategy to continue to rake in donations: tilt at windmills and gum up the courts in pointless litigation.

    All to avoid getting a real job.

    • D. J.

      This costs county and state governments plenty in legal fees and lost productivity. Staver and his band of miscreants see $$$$.

    • bkmn

      Mostly because they couldn’t handle a real job.

    • Herald

      They are polishing their fundafgelical creed and grifting. Make no mistake this is about Matt Staver’s ego and bank account.

    • JoeNCA

      Someone ought to tell these clerks, Liberty Counsel doesn’t care about you. They just care if they can grift little old ladies out of their social security checks.

  • The Professor

    Send these ignorant POS “state employees” to jail until they comply with the law. Modern day George Wallaces from the same fucking state. How well did it work in the 60’s?

  • The Professor

    George Wallace is smiling up from Hell…

    • BobSF_94117

      George Wallace repented. Perhaps that’s Jesse Helms.

  • oikos

    Now that is advice you can take to the bank……………….of those suing you and their lawyers.

  • ScottJL

    It’s nice to know Alabama doesn’t have more important issues to worry about.

  • Sam_Handwich
  • Ninja0980

    By the way, it should be noted that Alabama Justice Tom Parker was a founding member of the API, one of the two hate groups pushing this line of crap.
    If that doesn’t scream conflict of interest, I don’t know what does.

  • Jeff

    On Wednesday, July 8, 2015, the Lucas County Ohio Clerk of Courts was still issuing marriage licenses to gay couples. Toledo Municipal Judge Allen McConnell, who is assigned to marry couples, still refuses. “I declined to marry a non-traditional couple during my duties assignment,” McConnell said in a statement. “The declination was based upon my personal and Christian beliefs established over many years. I apologize to the couple for the delay they experienced and wish them the best.” (His lawyer daughter is the one who ran off with clients’ escrowed money a while back.)

  • Blake Jordan

    Sue them all!

    Cover those honeymoons, and even start college funds for the children…

  • JT

    Hey, nitwits. It’s not going to go to the Supreme Court. If it gets to the federal level at all, it will be knocked down.

  • bkmn

    Any lawyer giving this kind of advice should be disbarred. Over and done.

    • TexasBoy

      Justices in any state Supreme court asking for such advice should be removed from their positions. They are no longer able to demonstrate that they are unbiased.

      • People4Humanity

        … or capable of discharging the duties of their offices.

  • D. J.

    This makes things convenient for the SPLC. I think they are headquartered in Montgomery.

  • SFBruce

    This is what real judicial activism looks like. On steroids.

    • Phil

      Looks more like Crack to me.

  • TampaDink

    There goes my secret dream wedding plans in the ever so lovely Dothan, Alabama. /sarcasm.

    • Anastasia Beaverhousen

      Oh, dear god. Dothan, Alabama? You don’t mean the peanut festival capital of the world, do you?

      • Phil

        Yup – Ross Clark Circle and all!

      • TampaDink

        The one & only. I spent/was sentenced to several formative years of my life (age 12-18) living on a small farm about 30 miles south of Dothan. If you wanted to go to a mall, see an orthodontist or see a first run movie, you had to hit 231 north until you reached Ross Clark Circle.

  • i’m reminded of my cats. this is probably too noble a comparison. but still.

    sometimes my (big) dog will accidentally step on one of the cats. they get really pissed, and hiss and spit when that happens. i have to grab them and put them in the time out room. my dog is gentle and doesn’t want to hurt them, even when ‘fur is flyin.’

    but the cats just need to be put in the time out room for an hour or two. like these silly people. go on, sit in the room and cry and pout and stamp your feet. you’ll still have to come out for dinner and potty time.

    • fuow

      Tee-Hee.
      Your cats are considerably more rational than these people.
      Smarter, too, from the looks of it.

    • John P.

      Not much different…

    • Reality.Bites

      Animals aren’t too good at understanding motives, cause and effect.

      I remember when my dog was a puppy and he’d bump into things. He’d then turn around and try to figure out why the table leg had attacked him.

      • my grrl cat is named after an insane, murderous, black-hearted, sex crazed vampire for a reason, yo.

        • Reality.Bites

          It’s not nice to name pets after an ex. 😉

          • Verily! I, for one, would never name one of my pets Lying Methwhore Who Can’t Keep His Legs Together for 20 Minutes When My Back is Turned for Fear His Pussy Will Grow Shut.

            Though, I can see the comedic value in getting to yell that around the neighborhood when the pet escaped from the backyard.

          • BobSF_94117

            Depending on the neighborhood, you could draw a crowd that way.

          • Then I’ll make extra special sure I don’t do it in Cresson or Pyote/Thorntonville, Texas.

          • fuow

            Best SNL skit which never made it to airtime ever was about a similar topic:
            Cat owner running around the neighborhood asking whether anyone had seen their ‘running pussy’.

        • Bj Lincoln

          That’s why I never have girl cats. Boys are generally bigger and much nicer.

          • fuow

            Oh, I’ve known a few mean toms and several really sweet queens.
            Generally speaking, though – you’re right. It’s Mother Nature’s way of keeping toms from killing their young, I do believe.

          • doninkansas

            Used to bred and show Siamese. My toms, neutered or whole were always very laid back and easy going. The queens, with one exception ALWAYS had an agenda that MUST be met or there would be hell to pay. My current elderly girls believe they own me body and soul. The boys were happy with sunshine, naps, food, belly rubs and snuggles, and whole boys had occasional sex mixed it. The girls, however need everything just so or you feel there displeasure in various, evil ways. I love my antique fuzz balls.

      • fuow

        I’ve noticed that A-List Fags suffer from the same lack of cognitive ability.
        I’ve decided that in the next big fight – ENDA – on the federal level – I’m going to focus my time and energy on young women.
        At this point, gay men are either going to support it or are beyond reach.

    • doninkansas

      In this case I think an old fashioned ass whooping and to bed with no supper would be more appropriate. That is the only language these folks understand and not always even then. N.B. See Civil War, AKA the South getting it’s ass kicked.

  • TexasBoy

    Wow, a Supreme Court, who by default should know and understand law, asks a bunch of biased Christian lawyers for advice? Not much of a state Supreme Court. What until the Federal courts get a hold of what ever resistance they are trying to mount.

    • Fyva Prold

      It’s like IRS asking Grover Norquist to explain tax law.

      • Robincho

        Or having Maggot Gaglicker explain the benefits of cardio…

    • …unelected biased Christian lawyers…

      • IamM

        ‘Liberty’ ‘Counsel’ or the Alabama state supreme court?

        • Claude Jacques Bonhomme

          Both

        • The LC — this is one instance where the state’s high court actually is comprised of elected lawyers.

    • Stev84

      This is what you get when you directly elect supreme court justices instead of selecting them from a list of the most qualified people.

  • fuow

    At what point do we finally recognize that we were mistaken to keep them? Let them (and Texass) secede.

    • TexasBoy

      Only after forcing Texas to pay $500,000 for the relocation per person of anyone wishing to leave the state.

      • cleos_mom

        And letting them deal with their own border. Donald Trump would probably be willing to offer his consulting services for a fee.

        • canoebum

          And renaming Dallas after himself. It becomes the Trump-Ft Worth Metroplex.

        • Octavio

          Trump could run for Emperor of Texas.

      • People4Humanity

        Me, me, me, ME!
        Please consider adding a zero to the end of the stipend.

      • fuow

        Oh, hell, let’s just pay them to leave. We’ll make it back in the brains and hearts which come out of Austin, alone, never mind the many good people stranded throughout the rest of that hell-hole.

  • Balderdashing

    Any chance Staver could be disbarred for this?

    • Reality.Bites

      From my limited knowledge: none whatsoever.

  • Michael Rush

    it would be better for marrying couples to go TO those counties for their license even if they have to travel a distance , to make sure everyone complies with federal law . it would be great if couples could be accompanied by a police office who could arrest those who refuse to comply immediately .

    • B Snow

      Unless there’s a requirement that you get the license from your county of residence.

      It seems that a lot of these counties refusing to issue licenses haven’t yet had anyone request one. Is there such a thing as a pre-emptive self-martydom?

  • Anastasia Beaverhousen

    Please send in the National Guard to start issuing licenses. I want pictures for the next generation to have, just like we have from the 50’s and 60’s.

    • Bj Lincoln

      That is a very good idea.

    • GreatLakeSailor

      And send the sexy ones. We want those pictures to look good.

    • IamM

      Have them issue some warrants and subpoenas first.

  • cleos_mom

    These goobers try to compare themselves to abolitionists but the historical abolitionists were trying to expand freedom for a minority, not restrict it.

    Of course for some of them, freeing non-whites from slavery was as far as it went. And in Alabama today, people might be singing the ‘oh, but that’s different’ song now but patriots and good Christians were applauding Wallace’s ultimatums in the living memory of many Americans.

  • Mike in Texas

    Hahahahahaha …. It isn’t even from The Onion.

  • Dear Alabama, the fact that the highest court in your state is asking the Liberty Counsel for advice on what to do next regarding same-sex marriage should concern you to no end. In my world that court would approach the US federal court system for such advice, but in my world that state supreme court would already know what the federal court would say so it would follow the ruling of the US Supreme Court. Best of luck, y’all are going to need it!

    • David Walker

      And be proud that your Supremes have figured out how to spend all that tax money you’ve been giving them.

  • People4Humanity

    Does the Wikipedia map need to go backward to “not blue” for AL?

    • fuow

      Oh, lordy, lordy, don’t start that one again. The bitter bitches running that article are the very personification of everything which is causing Wikipedia to lose editors left and right.

      • People4Humanity

        Alternatively, I’d be perfectly happy to instead see federal troops dispatched. The pix for our gay kiddos will be awesome reminders in future.

    • Stev84

      Just make a slowly blinking gif

    • KQCA

      The irony is, you just know the anti-gays are gathered around the map jerking each other off on it.

  • ArchiLaw

    It’s always heartening to see one of Staver’s screeds open with a typo. Then I go on to read the damn thing, and it’s devoid of legal analysis. What Staver presents here is nothing more than a book report with an over-reliance on block quotes from the dissents. He does not fully quote Windsor–particularly the part that says states must comply with the U.S. Constitution. Then he gets to the Wisconsin slave case discussion and thinks he’s made a big point that in “157 years” the Wisconsin Supreme Court has not been confronted in the Booth cases. Gee, Mat, maybe that’s because since the abolition of slavery, the obligation of a northern state to return a fugitive slave to the south has been moot. Fail!

    • People4Humanity

      I appreciate your analysis. Especially, “Staver’s screeds open with a typo.”

      • Gaiboi66

        I know, right!

  • Dennis

    “Why should a couple have to drive for over an hour to get a marriage
    license? What if a couple can’t marry because they have an unreliable
    car, or they can’t get the time off work?”

    With your marriage now being recognized by other counties in Alabama and the rest of the United States and you’re going to wait for your backwards county to get with the times before you marry, you’re stupid or something else is terribly wrong.
    Your rights as an American citizen aren’t worth driving an hour? Don’t have a reliable car, ask someone to drive you. Take time off work, call in sick. Exercise your rights as an American citizen, get married and don’t wait for backwards Neanderthals to catch up. You’re the one with the power.

    • JustSayin’

      Dennis while I understand your point, in the bigger picture at least one couple in each county needs to be willing to get rejected publicly and on camera to have standing in a suit against the refusing clerks and their county.

    • fuow

      I think you missed the point. Count yourself very fortunate that you are unable to put yourself in the shoes of these people.

      • KQCA

        * Just wanted to note a JMG-er who has compassion for others. It’s a noble attribute.

    • SFBruce

      If there’s only one couple who can’t get married because of Alabama’s insistence on living in the past, that’s one couple too many.

    • GreatLakeSailor

      I know, right? Why didn’t Obergefall just move to Maryland or New York, right?

    • It’s hard to rationalize taking a day off from work if it means having to decide on not meeting your bills for the month or putting food on the table. We are talking about an extremely economically depressed area, where missing an entire day of work could be the straw that broke them.

  • BobSF_94117

    I wish some intrepid reporter would follow the money…

  • JustSayin’

    I can’t wait to read this brief in detail to see exactly how they support the idea that a state can successfully ignore a SCOTUS ruling. The fiction should be entertaining.

  • Link below is a list of the groups that the Alabama Citizens Action Program (ALCAP) says “relate” to their organization. If you’re associated in any way with one of these organizations please consider contacting them.

    http://www.alcap.com/organizations-that-relate-to-alcap

  • jomicur

    And the Liberty Counsel adopts another surefire losing strategy. In other news, pigs oink.

  • Rocketeer500

    The Liberty Counsel advising the Alabama Supreme Court. Hmmm… what ever could go wrong???

  • doninkansas

    Sue the bastards for every penny they have and will ever have, but he go after Liberty Council for unethical behavior as they are advocating state and county agencies to violate federal law. I am so sick and tired of these fuckers tying up our justice system with these frivolous law suits, not to mention the millions of tax dollars they are wasting.

  • AtticusFinch

    I’m a member of The Florida Bar, as are Staver and his wife. In my humble opinion, they’re not fit to be licensed, and this sham of a brief only underscores my belief. His “advice” to the Alabama Supreme Court, I believe, constitutes legal malpractice, and his disrespect for the United States Supreme Court (note how denigrates the Obergefell majority by referring to them as “five lawyers,” while the dissenters are properly addressed as “justices”) alone merits discipline. Sad, really.

    • KQCA

      Sic ’em! I’ll hold your briefcase.

      • To finish the triplet

        Oh my!

  • GayEGO

    Alabama Policy Institution a think tank! How about a think not tank? How these people pretend to be law abiding American citizens is beyond me. They need to be sentenced to an educational institution to learn what civil, equal rights mean.

  • SFBruce

    I know this will never happen, but at the moment it sounds great: the US should ask Alabama to either honor its laws, or it will no longer be part of the US. Alabama receives more federal dollars than it contributes, so creating the resources an independent country requires, national defense, etc, might be a little tough. But that’s the price Alabama should pay if it wants to call all the shots.

  • Claude Jacques Bonhomme

    Hard to identify a suitable musical accompaniment… but I think I found it.

    https://youtu.be/A0dw2UKRYSA?t=8s

  • Group who received their law degrees from crackerjack boxes advises unconstitutional actions to group who got their law degrees from crackerjack boxes.

    • Octavio

      Best legal summary I’ve read so far. 🙂

  • Jack M.

    2 points:

    1) The AL Supreme Court is in a universe of its own. There is no case before it. It has no right to take any action. Instead, it solicits briefs from outside legal organizations to advise it as to what actions to take, even when there is no case before it which would allow for an opinion to issue. It’s insane. Even so, I’d be surprised if they take up Matt Staver’s call. They would be completely alone, and would be certain to lose. I doubt if the probate judges would follow their order over that of the US District Court in AL. Also, if they were going to trigger a crisis, they would have done it a month ago.

    2) Lyle Denniston is an anti-gay bigot. He wrote admiringly about the amici briefs submitted by anti-gay groups in Obergefell. He especially liked the insane brief from the gay men who were married to women. As for the pro-gay briefs, he was contemptuous and referred to major medical organizations as “special interest groups.” He also mentions the “gay lifestyle.” Shame on SCOTUSBlog for keeping that jerk on the payroll.