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  • On February 8th, Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore issued a last-minute order to Alabama

  • probate judges to deny same sex marriage licenses. This directly conflicted with a federal court

  • decision on January 23rd, which legalized gay marriage in the state of Alabama. So,

  • what happens now? Are states able to defy federal law?

  • First off, as you may know, federal laws apply to the whole United States, and state laws

  • apply to just the state. When a conflict between federal and state law arises, Article 6, Clause

  • 2 of the Constitution, AKA the Supremacy Clause, says that federal law trumps state law.

  • So, how is Alabama able to defy the federal ruling? Well, in most cases theyre not

  • at least not for long. The feds have the Army National Guard on their side, which the President

  • can send in to enforce federal law wherever he or she needs it. Some states have their

  • own defense force, but it’s nowhere near as powerful.

  • In the ‘50s, Arkansas refused to comply with scholastic desegregation, and sent the

  • state army to block African American children, known as the Little Rock Nine, from attending

  • a white school. President Eisenhower responded by temporarily federalizing the Arkansas National

  • Guard and sending additional troops to enforce the new Supreme Court Decision. Similarly,

  • after the Civil War, President Grant resorted to federally prosecuting KKK members, because

  • Southern states refused to bring many criminals to justice. If the federal government wants

  • to assert its dominance over a state, it’s easy, and legal for them to do so.

  • But sometimes, they take a back seat. Recently, in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska,

  • marijuana has been legalized, despite federal laws, which maintain that the drug is still

  • illegal. In this case, President Obama has encouraged his administration to divert law

  • enforcement resources elsewhere. He says the trend towards legalization is growing. A US

  • Justice Department memorandum in 2009 confirms that when it comes to medical marijuana use,

  • they will let the states police themselves.

  • As of Monday, February 9th, the Washington Post reports that many Alabama county officials

  • still resisted issuing same sex marriage licenses, despite the recent federal court ruling. Currently

  • there is a lot of confusion in Alabama, and it may not subside until the Supreme Court,

  • America’s highest court of appeal, makes a decision on the issue. The Supreme Court

  • is slated to hear arguments on the constitutionality of same sex marriage in April. Today, 13 states

  • continue to ban gay marriage.

  • Think the Supreme Court is safe from the battle between Democrats and Republicans? Theyre

  • actually more biased than you might think. Check out our video here to learn more. And

  • click here to subscribe.

On February 8th, Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore issued a last-minute order to Alabama

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