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Ala. Chief Justice Ignores Same-Gender Marriage Ruling; Ethics Complaint Filed

Roy Moore urges probate judges to continue to deny marriage licenses to same-gender couples—despite a federal judge's ruling that the state's ban is unconstitutional.

By Albert Lin


The Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court is under fire for taking the position that a federal judge's ruling striking down Alabama's same-gender marriage ban is irrelevant.

Judge Ginny Granade of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama ruled that the Alabama Marriage Protection Act and an amendment that made it part of the state's constitution were both unconstitutional.

She later clarified that her order applies to all government officials statewide and not just to the defendant in the case, the state attorney general's office.

But Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is unconvinced. In a letter to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, Moore wrote: "I ask you to continue to uphold and support the Alabama Constitution with respect to marriage, both for the welfare of this state and for our posterity. Be advised that I stand with you to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority."

The letter also advised probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couples, saying that to do so would be in violation of state law.

In an interview with AL.com. Moore said that state courts are not required to follow decisions by federal district or appeals courts, although he called those decisions "highly persuasive." According to Moore, only a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court would be binding in Alabama.

"My duty as Chief Justice and administrative head of the court system is to enlighten those courts under my authority as to what the law is in this matter," Moore said. "And the law is clearly that federal district courts and appellate courts are only persuasive authority to the courts of this state because the judges of state courts are equally competent to interpret federal law."

Moore says that other states' decisions to abide by federal rulings on same-gender marriage were simply a matter of giving in to public pressure. "Many states have just caved to it—they absolutely have," he said. "When a federal district judge rules, that's it. But they didn't have to. And I'm saying we don't have to. And it's in accordance with the law. It's not defiance."

In response, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed an ethics complaint against Moore, accusing him of:

• improper public comment on pending and impending proceedings;

• lack of faithfulness to the law and failure of professional competence;

• and disrespect for the dignity of the judiciary and undermining public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.

The SPLC has a history with Moore: In 2002 it was part of a lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of a Ten Commandments monument that Moore placed in the state judicial building. When Moore refused to remove it, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary removed him from office—but he was elected Chief Justice again in 2012.

"For the sake of all Alabamians who believe in the rule of law, we hope that the result is the same this time," SPLC President Richard Cohen said. "The people of Alabama elected Moore to be a judge, not to be their priest."

Thirty-six states now recognize same-gender marriage, and the Supreme Court announced it would rule on the issue this year. Asked how he would respond to a SCOTUS ruling striking down Alabama's ban, Moore said, "I'll have to make that decision when it comes."

Alt-Right Advocate Known for Racist Trolling Marries a Black Man

Milo Yiannopoulos, who was banned from Twitter following his incitement of racist tweets against Leslie Jones, announced his marriage on Instagram.

INSTAGRAM

For years, Milo Yiannopoulos has notoriously used social media to promote an alt-right agenda by bashing Muslims, Black Lives Matter activists and feminists, and perpetuating racist trolling against Blacks, including comedian Leslie Jones. The self-proclaimed conservative "gay exceptionalist" even used the Internet to bash gay rights.

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Editorial: FBI Director Blows It in Race Speech

FBI Director James Comey gave an unprecedented speech on racial profiling and tensions amongst law enforcement, but then seemingly excused it all.

Originally published Feb. 17, 2015

In an unprecedented move, FBI Director James Comey addressed a crowd at Georgetown University on the racial tensions and culture of racial profiling amongst the law-enforcement community.

But that's where Comey made his mistake: He never acknowledged racial profiling as a cultural issue.

Instead of directly approaching the issues, Comey seemed to make excuses for them. Instead of admitting that racial profiling—and, more importantly, what lies behind it—is a cultural issue, he chose to quote a Broadway musical (Avenue Q) and note that "everyone's a little bit racist."

"I worry that this incredibly important and difficult conversation about race and policing has become focused entirely on the nature and character of law-enforcement officers when it should also be about something much harder to discuss," Comey said. "Debating the nature of policing is very important but I worry that it has become an excuse at times to avoid doing something harder."

But then he began to provide the excuses.

  • "Police officers on patrol in our nation's cities often work in environments where a hugely disproportionate percentage of street crime is committed by young men of color. Something happens to people of good will working in that environment";
  • "The two young Black men on one side of the street look like so many others the officer has locked up. Two young white men on the other side of the street, even in the same clothes, do not. The officer does not make the same sinister association about the two white guys, whether that officer is white or black";
  • :A tragedy of American life—one that most citizens are able to drive around because it doesn't touch them—is that young people in 'those neighborhoods' too often inherit from that dysfunction a legacy of crime and prison. And with that inheritance, they become part of a police officer's life, and shape the way that officer—whether white or Black—sees the world."

And this is where Comey's excuses begin to ignore the underlying cultural problems that lead to the rampant racial profiling that he sorta-kinda admits exists.

America is segregated. It is. In nearly every major city, the population is segregated.

Even in Ferguson, the police station is located in a wealthier, mostly white neighborhood. Michael Brown was shot to death—and police presence was almost nonexistent on the night Darren Wilson's lack of indictment was announced—in an almost entirely Black neighborhood.

In many cities, that police officer walking down the street won't see two Black guys on one side and two white guys on the other.

As a result, crime is segregated. Yes, somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 percent of the Black Americans who are murdered are killed by other Blacks.

And 83 percent of white murder victims are killed by other whites.

But somehow, on that mysterious street where segregation doesn't exist, the officer only sees the two Black men as resembling criminals the officer has arrested before.

Maybe it's because policing policy in his city unfairly targets Blacks and Latinos, e.g., Stop and Frisk (which has been declared unconstitutional) or Broken Windows policing in New York City.

Or maybe it's because almost every coworker this officer sees on a daily basis is white.

The U.S. Census Bureau has demographic data on police officers in 755 cities nationwide. In three-quarters of them, the percentage of white police officers is higher than the percentage of whites living in the city.

In 23 cities, the percentage of white police officers is three times the percentage of whites in the community.

In 29 cities, there are FIVE times as many.

So, yes, Comey was right in sorta-kinda acknowledging—something the FBI doesn't do very often—that there are racial disparities and issues that need to be addressed.

He just chose to address the symptoms instead of the cause.

Democratic Platform Touts Diversity, Inclusion

Positions are stark contrast to GOP policy. Meanwhile, undocumented immigrants to work and speak at DNC convention.

Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md.

The final version of the Democratic Party platform released Friday includes a strong embrace of minority rights, with sections focusing on ending systemic racism, reforming the criminal justice system and supporting historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions.

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EEOC Files First-Ever Sexual Orientation Discrimination Lawsuits

"With the filing of these two suits, EEOC is continuing to solidify its commitment to ensuring that individuals are not discriminated against in workplaces because of their sexual orientation."

Shutterstock

In a historic move, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has filed its first two lawsuits for discrimination based on an employee's sexual orientation.

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Georgia Senate Passes Act to 'Religiously' Discriminate Against LGBT Community

The bill's sponsor said it could even protect the rights of the KKK.

By Sheryl Estrada

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Judge Discriminating Against Lesbian Parents Recuses Himself

A Utah judge reversed his decision to remove the couple's foster child from their home, but organizations are actively seeking his impeachment.

A judge who called for the removal of a foster child from her lesbian foster parents has officially removed himself from the case following growing criticism and calls for an investigation of the judge's practices as well as his impeachment.

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Mormon Church: No Baptisms for Kids of Same-Gender Couples, Thousands Leave

Members of the Mormon Church take a stand against new policy.

By Sheryl Estrada

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CLUELESS — Jenner to DeGeneres: 'I'm a Traditionalist'

In a mind-boggling interview, Caitlyn Jenner competes with Trump for the ability to win the prize for compound insults.

By Sheryl Estrada

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