The Alabama Supreme Court’s chief justice is ready to go to war with the Supreme Court, if the high court rules in favor of same-sex marriage, asserting that the potential ruling could be as damaging as historical decisions that set back racial equality.


“Would you follow the order in Dred Scott saying black people are property or would you follow the order in Plessy v. Ferguson that said separate but equal was the policy of the United States?” Chief Justice Roy Moore asked on CNN’s “New Day.”

He added that, regardless of any Supreme Court decision, he will “follow the law as I interpret it.”

"I will do what the court should have done under Dred Scott: If it's an unlawful mandate, you don’t have to recognize it. You can recuse from the case,” he said.

“You can dissent to the United States Supreme Court.”

The Alabama court system is in the midst of a battle over gay marriage. A federal judge overruled the state’s ban in January and customarily delayed the repercussions to give opponents time to appeal. But when the Supreme Court chose not to grant a further delay, Alabama was supposed to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Monday.

But Moore intervened and told probate judges not to issue the licenses that are “inconsistent” with Alabama’s Constitution. That has led to a confusing landscape, where 23 out of 67 counties are issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, 18 counties are only recognizing marriages between straight couples, and 26 counties are refusing to issue any marriage licenses, according to The New York Times.

Later in the CNN interview, Moore declared that “one lone federal judge,” the federal district judge who overruled the state’s ban on gay marriages, can’t create federal law. He referred to the situation as “federal intrusion into state sovereignty.” He cited a Supreme Court case from 1885, which calls marriage a union between a man and a woman.

This isn’t the first time Moore threatened to buck a federal ruling. He lost his position in 2003 after refusing to follow a federal order to remove a Ten Commandments statue outside of the state’s judicial building. He won back his seat in 2012.

President Obama briefly addressed the controversy during an interview with BuzzFeed News on Tuesday.

“There’s a core principle here that’s at stake, which is we have a supremacy clause in our Constitution. When federal law is in conflict with state law, federal law wins out,” he said. Obama also needled Moore for his Ten Commandments flap, adding that he believes federal law will once again win out.

“I think that the courts at the federal level will have something to say to him.”