The Republican establishment has always hated Roy Moore because of his conservative worldview that features a strong emphasis on state sovereignty over federal power. The accusations that Moore has “contempt” for the rule of law are either dishonest or a fundamental misunderstanding of the arguments about state sovereignty that stretch back to the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. Let’s examine two specific cases.
Moore burst onto the national scene by putting a Ten Commandments monument in the Alabama Supreme Court. A federal judge ordered the monument be removed, but Moore stood firm and was eventually removed from the Alabama Supreme Court as a result of the fight. Was Moore wrong? No.
The Ten Commandments has a significant historical significance for western culture and American history. Even a non-Chrisrtian would have to admit that the second tablet has significant and important moral lessons that we should all follow – several of which are enshrined in our own criminal codes. (Do not steal, do not kill, do not commit perjury.) Erecting the monument of a historical document in and of itself was not an explicit establishment of a particular religion, whether Christian, Jewish or Muslim.
Furthermore, when the U.S. Constitution was written and well over a century afterward (decades after the War Between the States) it would have been incomprehensible for a federal court to tell a state that it may not erect a Ten Commandments monument. This would not have been controversial from the late 1700’s through the early 1900’s. If Roy Moore had been alive and did the exact same thing 100 years earlier, it would not have been legally questionable. Did the text of the Constitution change? No, but the federal judiciary’s lust for power did grow over that time.
The accusation that Moore lacks respect for the “rule of law” over the Obergefell decision is simply laughable. From the ratification of the U.S. Constitution and for over two hundred years afterward, it was unimaginable that the nation’s founding document mandated that the sovereign states recognize a “marriage” between two men or two women.
The Supreme Court invented a brand new “right” out of thin air in 2015 and forced it on the states. Moore rightly recognized that not only was this decision legally wrong, forcing it on the states was an obscene attack on state sovereignty. Only in the last couple decades would such a drastic federal overreach even been possible. Again, did the text of the Constitution change? No, but the federal judiciary’s lust for power did grow.
The system of government of these United States has never been one where we are ruled from one city on the East Coast, with power delegated to the states. Our system was designed in such a way that the states are sovereign and grant specific and limited powers to the federal government necessary to the cohesion of the nation. As time has gone by, the federal government has drastically expanded its power in a way that would have been horrifying just 75 years ago. Moore respects the rule of law as originally written, not as “interpreted” by activist federal judges and justices legislating from the bench.
If anyone has contempt for the rule of law, it is those who attack Roy Moore for defending state sovereignty.