GRAHAM — An elected official in Alamance County said a federal judge had no legal standing to overturn North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage. Ten days ago, U.S. District Court Judge Max Cogburn struck down North Carolina Amendment 1, passed by voters in 2012, but a law school dean says Cogburn was on firm legal ground.

“I didn’t say whether I agreed with the decision or not not but he doesn’t have the right to say that about our constitution, North Carolina’s constitution, and an amendment that was passed by two-thirds of the voters,” said Hugh Webster, Alamance County Register of Deeds.

Webster admittedly is conflicted over the issue of same-sex marriage but as to U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn’s authority to strike down the state ban he’s unequivocal.

“I’ve read the U.S. Constitution numerous times, and I’ve never seen anything in it that says, that gives a federal judge in Asheville the right to overrule North Carolina’s constitution,” Webster said.

The interim dean at Wake Forest University School of Law says the U.S. Constitution speaks clearly on the issue.

“Article III of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the power to constitute federal courts, to name a Supreme Court and to name lower federal courts,” said Suzanne Reynolds. “It also gives all of those courts the power to decide whether a state statute or a state constitutional amendment complies with the federal constitution.”

Webster also opposes the lifetime appointment of federal judges as proscribed in the Constitution. Reynolds said Webster’s criticisms had the ring of a claim that Cogburn is an activist, or rogue, judge.

“I think what the real definition is of an activist judge is a judge who’s made a ruling that you don’t like,” she said.

In Greensboro, U.S. District Court Judge William Osteen, Jr. also ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

The attorney representing Senate President Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis says federal rules allow for an appeal to be filed within 30 days. John Eastman said he was prepared to take the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

– Ed Scannell