Alabama GOP Senate nominee Roy Moore said late last year that the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing gay marriage was “even worse” than the notorious 1857 Dred Scott ruling that upheld slavery.
Moore, a hard-right former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice, has twice been removed from office for refusing to follow the rule of law — the second time for ordering probate judges in his state to disobey the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling legalizing gay marriage. Last November he said that decision was even worse than one that scholars widely consider the worst Supreme Court decision in U.S. history.
“In 1857 the United States Supreme Court did rule that black people were property. Of course that contradicted the Constitution, and it took a civil war to overturn it. But this ruling in Obergefell is even worse in a sense because it forces not only people to recognize marriage other than the institution ordained of God and recognized by nearly every state in the union, it says that you now must do away with the definition of marriage and make it between two persons of the same gender or leading on, as one of the dissenting justices said, to polygamy, to multi-partner marriages,” Moore said in a podcast interview last November, shortly after he was suspended without pay from the court.
“We’ve got to go back and recognize that what they did in Obergefell was not only to take and create a right that does not exist under the Constitution but then to mandate that that right compels Christians to give up their religious freedom and liberty,” he continued.
In Dred Scott the court denied citizenship to African Americans and found the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional, triggering a backlash that helped lead to the Civil War.
Moore’s comments were made in an interview with Here I Stand, a podcast run by the religious conservative Christian Emergency League, and shared with TPM by the Democratic group American Bridge.
Moore wasn’t the only one on the religious right who compared Obergefell to Dred Scott. It became a talking point from Christian conservatives like Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum two years ago. But Moore clearly went a step further by saying the decision was worse, not just listing it as another decision from the court he thought was terrible.
Moore’s remark isn’t the only time he’s waded into murky racial waters in his political and judicial career. As TPM has reported, Moore successfully led the charge against removing segregationist language from the Alabama state constitution, his biggest backer is a neo-Confederate who wants the South to secede again, and Moore’s Foundation for Moral Law hosted the neo-Confederate, pro-secession League of the South’s annual “Secession Day” events in 2009 and 2010, though Moore’s staff claim he didn’t know about the events.
He’s also continued to question whether President Obama was born in the U.S., and his campaign has recently shared racially charged memes during this Senate run.
“The Dred Scott decision ranks as the worst Supreme Court decision in American history and it’s appalling that Moore doesn’t understand that, though sadly not surprising considering his history of embracing white supremacists and pro-Confederate groups,” American Bridge spokesperson Allison Teixeira Sulier told TPM. “Roy Moore is not fit to serve in any capacity, and his hateful views are un-American.”
Moore’s campaign declined to respond to requests for comment or clarification about his remarks.
In spite of his controversies, Moore remains the favorite against former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones ahead of the Dec. 12 election to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ old Senate seat. He hass held a lead in the mid- to high-single digits in most public and private polling of the race.
The full interview can be heard here.