Can federal courts force states to make laws or state officials to do work contrary to state law?

Article VII, Section 1 of the Tennessee Constitution says that a county clerk’s duties “shall be prescribed by the General Assembly.” No state or federal court has ever enjoined the enforcement of this provision; it was not at issue in Obergefell.

Pursuant to the Tennessee Constitution, the Legislature authorized county clerks to issue marriage licenses to "male and female contracting parties.” The legislature has never amended the law to eliminate the words “male and female.” Yet because of the Obergefell ruling, county clerks have been issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples anyway.

Who legally authorized county clerks to issue marriage licenses to persons other than “a male and female?" Does the judicial power allow the United States Supreme Court in a lawsuit that did not even include a county clerk as a party to order a county clerk to issue a marriage license that he or she has never been authorized by the General Assembly to issue?

Answers to these questions depend on one’s views regarding the separation of powers, federalism, and the nature of the judicial power.

Do you agree with FACT that the federal judicial power cannot order state officials to do that which he or she has never been authorized by state law to do?

We asked all the candidates:

Can federal courts force states to make laws or state officials to do work contrary to state law?

These are were their answers:

I agree with FACT that federal courts have no authority to impose duties on Tennessee officials that state law has ever authorized them to do.

The following candidates answered this way.
Janice Bowling

Sen. Janice Bowling

Republican

Senate District 16

Glen Casada

Rep. Glen Casada

Republican

House District 63

Scott Cepicky

Rep. Scott Cepicky

Republican

House District 64

Vincent Cuevas

Vincent Cuevas

Republican

House District 92 Candidate

Tandy Darby

Tandy Darby

Republican

House District 76 Candidate

John Dawson

John Dawson

Republican

House District 67 Candidate

Bruce Griffey

Rep. Bruce Griffey

Republican

House District 75

Esther Helton

Rep. Esther Helton

Republican

House District 30

Joey Hensley

Sen. Joey Hensley

Republican

Senate District 28

Matthew Hill

Rep. Matthew Hill

Republican

House District 7

Ronnie Holden

Ronnie Holden

Republican

House District 47 Candidate

Kelly Keisling

Rep. Kelly Keisling

Republican

House District 38

Tom Leatherwood

Rep. Tom Leatherwood

Republican

House District 99

Becky Duncan Massey

Sen. Becky Duncan Massey

Republican

Senate District 6

John McMahan

John McMahan

Republican

House District 76 Candidate

Lee Mills

Lee Mills

Republican

House District 99 Candidate

Brandon Ogles

Rep. Brandon Ogles

Republican

House District 61

Gina Oster

Gina Oster

Republican

House District 18 Candidate

Patricia Possel

Patricia Possel

Republican

House District 96 Candidate

Paul Rose

Sen. Paul Rose

Republican

Senate District 32

Paul Sherrell

Rep. Paul Sherrell

Republican

House District 43

Jai Templeton

Jai Templeton

Republican

Senate District 26 Candidate

Terri Lynn Weaver

Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver

Republican

House District 40

Ryan Williams

Rep. Ryan Williams

Republican

House District 42

I disagree and believe that states and state officials must do whatever they think a U.S. Supreme Court opinion would have them do, even if duty they begin to carry out has not been delegated to them in the manner required by state law.

No candidates have given this answer.

I am unsure.

The following candidates answered this way.
Diane Canada

Diane Canada

Republican

House District 56 Candidate

Other

The following candidates gave their own answers

"I fully support anyone in their right to be lawfully married. It is none of my business who marries who, or who sleeps with who. "

Carol Abney

Carol Abney

Republican Candidate

House District 38

"The Supremacy Clause makes federal law superior to state law where there is a conflict.  The 14th Amendment fundamentally transformed the relationship of the states vis a vis the federal, which was the whole point Section 5 of the 14th Amendment with respect to fundamental rights (which existed at common law). "

John Stevens

Sen. John Stevens

Republican

Senate District 24

"I disagree and believe that states and state officials must do whatever they think a U.S. Supreme Court opinion would have them do, even if duty they begin to carry out has not been delegated to them in the manner required by state law."

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