We’re still a month out from the first presidential primary of 2016, but some Alabama elected officials are taking a longer view – to 2018. How else can you interpret the latest actions of Chief Justice Roy Moore and State Auditor Jim Zeigler? In grand political tradition, they’re so busy running for a higher office that they can’t be bothered with the work of the office they currently hold.
Moore’s latest directive telling Alabama Probate Judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples briefly stopped some counties from doing so, but, as legal experts have weighed in, most Probate Judges are ignoring Moore and following the law. It’s a bit puzzling that Moore would drag this dead horse out and start beating it again, since he took almost the exact same action in February of last year and then again in March. All for nothing.
Moore’s letter, dated today, repeats the earlier assertion he made — that state courts are not bound by federal district courts or federal appeals courts on questions of federal constitutional law.
Now, he’s back making the same stupid argument again. The big question is why? The inevitable lawsuits will cost the state more money that it doesn’t have – and for nothing. The US Supreme Court has ruled on this issue. It’s done. Nothing to see… move along, please.
Moore completely understands the state’s financial problems and how inadequate funding is affecting the state’s justice system. As he wrote in 2014:
We have lost 305 critical employees since 2001, and our budget from the General Fund has shrunk from $120 million in 2001, when I was first elected Chief Justice, to $89 million in 2014. This has necessitated the closure of a majority of the circuit clerk’s offices for one day a week to allow court specialists to complete needed filings and case processing. Another effect of inadequate funding is that cases are delayed and justice denied to thousands of victims, children, families, and businesses each year.
Moore knows that he’s likely to cost the state money and do further damage to the state’s image. That certainly won’t help fund the court system or anything else. So something else must be happening to make Moore start flailing around for media attention again.
Enter State Auditor Jim Zeigler, who has spent his first year in office doing anything but the $86,000 a year job he’s being paid for. It’s been a year-long unicorn hunt for the self-described
- He worried about the danger of a United Nations takeover of Alabama.
- He blamed Oprah Winfrey when George and Lurleen Wallace’s portraits were moved.
- He hung out with neo-Confederates.
- He urged Alabamians to take guns to church with them.
- He pals around with domestic terrorists outside women’s clinics.
- He visited Limestone County to campaign against a tax increase to fund the local school system.
- He started his own weekly radio show.
It’s likely that Judge Roy Moore cares less about gays getting married than he does about Jim Zeigler sucking all the crazy out of the room. Both men are likely to run for governor in 2018, and all this silliness is just political posturing.
Marriage equality, paintings, the United Nations… none of this will help the state recruit good paying jobs, shore up social services, improve public education, or stop a single abortion. But they do get attention.
Moore & Zeigler seem to be betting that Republican primary voters will prefer the candidate who can fight the biggest unicorn. Sadly, they’re probably right.
FYI… in case you’re wondering if Moore can/will be impeached or removed from office, this post from July 2015 explains the process.