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BREAKING: Supreme Court distributes all seven marriage petitions for September 29 conference

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

It's time for marriage equality. Attribution: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
It’s time for marriage equality. Attribution: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
All seven petitions in same-sex marriage cases have been distributed for the September 29 conference, the first conference of the Court’s October ’14 term.

At its conference, the Court will look at three petitions from Virginia, and one each from Oklahoma, Utah, Indiana, and Wisconsin.

There’s no guarantee the Court will take any action after the conference. It could relist cases or hold them for upcoming petitions.

It takes four votes to grant review in a case.


  • 1. weaverbear  |  September 10, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Well, lets all keep our fingers crossed folks. It may well be that the end game is about to begin.

  • 2. DaveM_OH  |  September 10, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Dockets updated to reflect all cases have been DISTRIBUTED.

  • 3. debater7474  |  September 10, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    For some reason I just have a feeling that the court will do exactly what it did with the DOMA and Perry cases: put off granting cert until December.

  • 4. Scottie Thomaston  |  September 10, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    That's exactly where I got the info. Been refreshing them all day.

  • 5. BenjiCA  |  September 10, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    I agree. I think they accepted these cases just to get the ball rolling, but will sit on them until December so they won't have to issue a ruling (presuming that they do) until the last day of the 2014-2015 session; just as they did with the DOMA and Perry cases.

    If the 6th or 5th circuit chimes in with a anti-equality ruling, then that might accelerate/elevate all of this. But now that SCOTUS has begun the process of taking on this issue, the 6th and 5th may just kick back and leave it all up to SCOTUS.

  • 6. Scottie Thomaston  |  September 10, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    I think that's what will happen as well. I think they probably scheduled it for the very first conference of the term so they would have more time to relist and consider the cases a few more times in subsequent conferences.

  • 7. FredDorner  |  September 10, 2014 at 1:45 pm

    I hope the 9th circuit rules soon and Idaho appeals promptly so that case can be in the mix when cert is granted to other cases.

  • 8. Applebear40  |  September 10, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    I bet if one of the Justices were waiting to get married, they would speed things along man

  • 9. RQO  |  September 10, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Scottie – photo of "the Country is Ready" sign is a very nice and apt touch, though I suppose Alito, Scalia, Thomas and Roberts read it as "The End is Near" Oh to be a fly on the wall Sept. 29.

  • 10. RQO  |  September 10, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Here's hoping the women of the court tell the men time is up, no more stalling, no more gay means stay, there are real people out there waiting. RBG may be older than dirt, weighs no more than 90 lbs, and wears that ridiculous lace bib thingy, but seriously, would you want to cross her? Time for "if Mama's not happy, NOBODY's happy".

  • 11. Zack12  |  September 10, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    I hope the 9th rules first in order to soften the blow we'll get when the 6th rules against us.

  • 12. Fledge01  |  September 10, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    I hope they don't take any case. There is no reason for them to since there is no split in the circuits. Regardless of the fact that the justices said in DOMA that the DOMA ruling didn't apply to the states, it in fact did apply to the states. That is exactly what every appeals court so far has determined. Why would they need to re-litigate the issue if everybody is acting in compliance with Scalia's dissent interpretation of the DOMA ruling? All the circuits will have ruled on their cases anyway before the SCOTUS will have a chance to rule on any case.

  • 13. Ragavendran  |  September 10, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    A good overview of the variety of issues raised in the upcoming same-sex marriage cert petitions from Lyle of SCOTUSblog:

    One thing Lyle wrote that struck me is the following:

    Apparently, although no one at the Court said this explicitly, the Justices apparently wanted all seven of the petitions so far filed to be ready for the September 29 Conference, which is to be held a week before the new Term formally opens.

    How could anyone get this kind of information? Leaked by one of the Justices' clerks perhaps? Strange!

  • 14. RnL2008  |  September 10, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    To be a fly on the wall and REALLY hear what SCOTUS thinks about all of this would be very interesting I think…….I'm not sure Alito and Roberts want to seriously touch these cases, but Scalia will probably grant cert and drag Thomas to vote for cert as well…….I believe Justice Ginsburg and possibly Kagan will vote for cert as well….but that's pure speculation on my part!!!

  • 15. Retired_Lawyer  |  September 10, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    My guess is that the kind of administrative tasks that would be involved in assembling the papers in seven petitions for nine Justices are such that the source could be a file clerk, a messenger, or one of the guys skippering a photocopier. Good reporters usually try to have sources in low, as well as high, places.

  • 16. jdw_karasu  |  September 10, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Were DOMA and Perry distributed for the first conference, or later?

    Also, I think DOMA and Perry were more controversial than the current cases, and we know the end result: Punt on ME. This time we know how the 5-4 will swing, and it's likely that elements of the court would just as soon get the thing done sooner rather than later.

  • 17. jdw_karasu  |  September 10, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    I'd add that there might be political and other reasons to get it done early. It likely will be the case(s) that get the most attention. Get it done early, attract attention, then leave Federalist Favorite Causes for later when there's less attention.

  • 18. ebohlman  |  September 10, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Well if the SCOTUS grants cert on any of the cases, all litigation (except possibly some state cases) will go on hold until they rule; we won't see any more Federal decisions until then. That is actually a good argument for hoping the SCOTUS waits until next year; there's quite a lot that can be accomplished between now and next June, and while we think a favorable SCOTUS ruling this term is likely, it would be even more likely next term. It all comes down to a benefits-vs-harms analysis.

  • 19. JayJonson  |  September 10, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    No. Considering the age and health of the justices, delay is not on our side. Should anything happen that would cause Kennedy or Ginsburg or Breyer or Kagan or Sotomayor to step down, we have no hope of the Supreme Court issuing a definitive ruling. States in the sixth, eleventh, and fifth circuits would likely remain able to discriminate against their citizens.

  • 20. JayJonson  |  September 10, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    It is highly unlikely that Thomas, Scalia, Alito, and Roberts would vote to grant cert in these cases. They do not want a nation-wide ruling on marriage equality because they know how the ruling will go.

  • 21. Retired_Lawyer  |  September 10, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    One possibility would be for the Supreme Court to grant certiorari to all the petitions, and consolidate the cases, as the Court did in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. This would free Justice Kennedy, and the other four who voted with him in the Windsor case, from the constraints of the fact pattern in any one particular case. They could roam more broadly in establishing, not just marriage equality for the whole country, but also standards for the courts to use in future cases of LGBT discrimination.

  • 22. JayJonson  |  September 10, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    Yes. This is what I hope they do. ASAP.

  • 23. Sagesse  |  September 10, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    I hope the 9th circuit rules soon so that Nevada will become the 20th marriage equality state (+DC). It won't be that simple, since the case will be remanded to the district court with instructions to reconsider its decision, but still….

    Idle thoughts… will the decison go back to Judge Jones, or just another judge in the district court? Will Judge Jones have to re-write his decision to agree with the 9th circuit? That would be satisfying, but perhaps time consuming.

  • 24. Rick55845  |  September 10, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    There didn't necessarily have to be a leak. He said "apparently", and actually he said it twice. He's talking about appearances. He even said that no one at the Court said anything explicitly. He's speculating.

  • 25. ebohlman  |  September 10, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Interesting post from Lyle at SCOTUSblog regarding a case that basically laid the groundwork for the standard levels-of-scrutiny framework:

  • 26. Sagesse  |  September 10, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Further thoughts. I don't think Nevada would be stayed, since no one has standing to appeal. Similarly, I don't think it would be suspended while SCOTUS decides, since no one has standing to appeal.

  • 27. jjcpelayojr  |  September 10, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    I agree, considering the midterm elections up this year for politicians, I wouldn't be surprised if they punted it until after it was all over in Nov/Dec so that it wouldn't be used as a political weapon against them (or if certain political groups were lobbying for them to push it until after).

  • 28. Fledge01  |  September 10, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Good point, Right now, all the cases to be heard are from circuits that overturned the ban. If the justices grant cert now, and the rest of the appeals are stopped, then a ruling in our favor would not have the effect of overruling any appeals court. If by some chance an appeals court rules against marriage equality in the near future, it might give cover to any justice who would want to rule the same way. However, this is assuming that SCOTUS justices are at all influenced by lower court rulings. I think they are to some extent when you get down to it.

  • 29. ragefirewolf  |  September 10, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Kagan and Sotomayor are much younger than the rest. Their ages and health are not in question.

  • 30. JayJonson  |  September 10, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Everyone is mortal and vulnerable. I have lost many friends younger than they, some in accidents. It is folly to assume that anyone is safe from the vicissitudes of life, whatever their age.

  • 31. SeattleRobin  |  September 10, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    You know, I was just thinking. A lot of people were disgruntled by the SCOTUS decision to accept the Prop 8 case only as a vehicle to rule on standing. But that decision has been critical to a few cases this year. Think about states like Oregon, and soon to be Nevada, where we don't have to spend another year in protracted cases because SCOTUS has already decided the issue in terms of who can appeal. There are people marrying now outside of California because SCOTUS took up the standing issue instead of just denying cert. (Which I think is what they would have done absent a standing question.)

  • 32. ragefirewolf  |  September 10, 2014 at 6:36 pm

    Yes, of course. I just meant their respective ages (Justices Kagan and Sotomayor) are irrelevant to this discussion.

  • 33. Dr. Z  |  September 10, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    Lawrence, Romer, and Bowers were also issued on the last week of the term. I doubt they will change the pattern here.

    Which means a decision would come very close to the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

  • 34. Ragavendran  |  September 10, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    If remanded, as seems to be the usual procedure when reversed, it will go to Judge Jones. I'm not sure if, in general, a judge would be allowed to recuse themselves later on in the proceedings for any reason. Barring that, he is bound by the Ninth Circuit to issue a permanent injunction enjoining the State of Nevada from enforcing the ban, whether he likes it or not. If the Ninth Circuit "remands with instructions/directions" (I believe that is the term) and is very specific as to the injunction to be issued, his hands will be tied even more tightly. The state officials could also simply render that procedural step unnecessary (what if Jones takes his sweet time to do as instructed?) by instructing the clerks to start issuing marriage licenses as soon as the Ninth rules. We'll see.

  • 35. Zack12  |  September 10, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    Anything Judge Jones can do to drag it out, he most certainly will.
    Let's hope he gets clear orders not to.

  • 36. tornado163  |  September 10, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Plenty of cases get argued in the Fall but not decided until May/June. By my rough count, there were at least 4 cases that took 5-6 months to decide in the 2013-2014 Supreme Court session.

    Besides if any of the marriage cases are granted at the end of September, they wouldn't actually be argued until at least January since the Fall calendar has already been set. And since it definitely wouldn't be a unanimous decision it'd probably take until April in the best of cases.

    Also back to DOMA, I seem to recall the reason SCOTUS waited was because first Gill v OPM reached them, but Kagan would have had to recuse herself, so they waited until Windsor was ready so all 9 judges could take part. If they tied on Gill without Kagan 4-4, it would have been a win, but with no precedential value.

  • 37. RnL2008  |  September 10, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    I hope both the 6th and 9th rule soon, this will give SCOTUS a case from the 10th, the 4th, the 7th, the 6th and the 9th…………by hearing them all around the same time means that if they rule in our favor………then we would pick up ALL of the States in those territories and then the rest will fall quickly and SCOTUS won't have to see this issue anymore!!!

    I know this would be to much to hope for, but I can try…can't I?

  • 38. RnL2008  |  September 10, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    That may be true, but Scalia would just love to express his "TOLD YA SO" predication…….I mean Scalia CAN'T help himself…….just a thought I had!!!

  • 39. Ragavendran  |  September 10, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    Yeah. The worst-case scenario is if the Ninth Circuit writes a detailed opinion affirming the district court in Idaho, and instead of issuing an opinion reversing the district court in Nevada, simply vacates Judge Jones's order and remands it back to him for further proceedings taking the changed law into account. That would give Judge Jones the maximum flexibility. I think this scenario is unlikely, but still within the realm of possibilities for an appellate panel to dispose off an appeal.

  • 40. Sagesse  |  September 11, 2014 at 3:51 am

    Musing on the hubris of Monte Stewart… it seems almost ridiculous, but I suppose he and the intervenors he represents could ask to en banc review… since they are recognized as legitimate parties at the 9th circuit level. Hmmm.

    As for Idaho, do they ask for en banc review, or go directly to the Supreme Court? Give O'Scanllain one last chance to write a dissent?

  • 41. RemC_in_Chicago  |  September 11, 2014 at 5:15 am

    I hadn't realized that. Thanks for the info. I remember visiting my best friend in L.A., getting ready to go into a restaurant, when an electric sign outside the place flashed the news about Bowers. It was a summer trip so I should've realized it had happened in June. I was disappointed in the result, as I thought at the time that we had evolved enough as a society to be ready for a ruling in our favor.

  • 42. Dr. Z  |  September 11, 2014 at 5:45 am

    It was even worse than that. Bowers was handed down just before the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty; so not only did we have to cope with this stinging reminder of our complete and total lack of rights as LGBT, but we had to do it in the middle of this orgy of flagwaving and fireworks that had been orchestrated as a Ronald Reagan campaign event. At the height of the AIDS epidemic.

    Bowers begat the Great March of 1987, which begat Coming Out Day on October 11 every year.

  • 43. JayJonson  |  September 11, 2014 at 6:42 am

    I remember protesting at a hastily called demonstration in front of the federal courthouse in Detroit right after Bowers was handed down, and then attending the March of Washington in October 1987. It was at the Great March of 1987 that the AIDS Quilt was first displayed. I can still remember the tears shed as we walked over the mall looking for the names of friends who had died. Also right after the march, almost 1,000 people were arrested in front of the Supreme Court in the largest civil disobedience action ever held in support of the rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgender people.

  • 44. Dr. Z  |  September 11, 2014 at 7:38 am

    The 1987 march was also instrumental in spreading ACT-UP chapters across the country.

  • 45. Ragavendran  |  September 11, 2014 at 9:41 am

    I'm not sure of Nevada – if they lose, should intervenors demonstrate standing to file a motion for rehearing en banc? I don't know.

    As for Idaho, I'm sure they know it's futile to go en banc on this and would rather file a quick cert petition to the Supreme Court.

  • 46. FredDorner  |  September 11, 2014 at 4:33 pm

    NOM just asked or en banc review in the Oregon case, but they're really all about scamming donations from their gullible donors. I suspect they realize the motion is futile, but that's not the point anyway.

  • 47. Ragavendran  |  September 11, 2014 at 5:39 pm

    Well, in Idaho's case, it is the Governor and State of Idaho, not some intervenor wanting to scam donations, who would be appealing further. So far, five out of five states have filed cert petitions directly with the Supreme Court instead of going en banc, plus, they've done it really fast. I don't see why it would be different with Idaho.

  • 48. F_Young  |  September 12, 2014 at 2:13 am

    Five signs SCOTUS will take up gay marriage

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