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Alabama Probate Judges Association supports stay in marriage case

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

The Alabama Probate Judges Association filed friend-of-the-court briefs in Searcy v. Strange and Strawser v. Strange urging the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals to grant a stay pending appeal in both cases.

The brief cited the upcoming Supreme Court arguments in four marriage cases, along with an argument about “confusion” in the state if the stay expires on February 9:

Should this Court determine not to extend the stay imposed by the district court, it isnot reasonable to expect that fundamental changes to the administration of Alabama’smarriage laws can be uniformly and efficiently implemented in probate offices between the date this Court rules and February 9, 2015, without mass confusion in probate offices across the state of Alabama. There has been no opportunity to train probate office personnel concerning these changes. APJA believes there is a need for clarity and certainty in the law.

The Probate Judges Association has been active in opposing the licensing of same-sex marriages and recognition of lawfully performed marriages in recent days.

Last weekend, they released a statement urging probate judges not to grant licenses to same-sex couples. Their argument was based on the injunction entered in the Searcy case: the Association argued it only applied to one couple. The Association promised to file briefs backing a stay and arguing that the injunction didn’t allow statewide marriage rights.

The federal judge who decided Searcy subsequently issued a clarifying order in response to a request from the plaintiffs. The judge wrote that while the injunction applies only to the one couple, it struck down both aspects of the ban. It adopted similar reasoning from a district court in Florida, suggesting that under its ruling, the Constitution bars states from preventing same-sex couples from marrying or refusing to recognize their lawful marriages. The Constitutional ruling would apply statewide.

After that, the Association claimed to agree that the decision applies to both aspects of the ban and that it applies statewide.

Now, in these briefs, they are telling the Eleventh Circuit that there’s not enough time and too much confusion to deny the stay request and let marriages begin February 9.

The appeals court could issue a ruling on the stay request at any time.

Thanks to Equality Case Files for these filings

13 Comments

  • 1. RnL2008  |  January 29, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    As far as I'm concern, neither the State Governor, AG or the County Clerks have stated why the stay is truly necessary and if the 11th DIDN'T grant one in Florida……why do they feel it will grant one for Alabama?

    All this stay will do is delay the INEVITABLE and that alone is NOT justification to grant a stay!!!

  • 2. bayareajohn  |  January 29, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    "mass confusion in probate offices across the state of Alabama. There has been no opportunity to train probate office personnel concerning these changes."

    I have prepared training for them that should suffice, as it has all over the rest of the country. It goes like this:

    "Just don't say NO."

    Seriously, are these judges suggesting that their state employees are so dumb that they can't figure out how to just stop saying NO to couples that are exactly like all the others but for their matching naughty bits? Bits that the clerks should have no need to examine…

  • 3. guitaristbl  |  January 29, 2015 at 5:10 pm

    What kind of training is that that needs to occur that did not need to occur in other states exactly ? Also lets say that administrative changes are a legitimate argument (other states did not have that luxury either though), does that mean that if the stay is granted then the association will makes sure adminstrative changes are made and tha "training" occurs in the meantime ? I doubt it. Such a load of nonsense..!

  • 4. Tony MinasTirith  |  January 29, 2015 at 5:11 pm

    Or here's another training solution:
    Hand the applicants a pen, an application, then after they've filled it out and returned it, hand them back a marriage license. [Don't forget to collect cash/check/cc for the regular fee – THE SAME FEE that opposite sex couples are charged!] As long as the applicants meet all legal requirements, everyone is good to go. These guys are judges, (presumably have at least a HS Diploma) I think they can figure out how to hand an applicant a pen and application.

    As for the application, in the sections that usually ask if the applicant is a bride or groom, just leave blanks and let the applicant fill in (or circle) whether he or she is a bride or groom or spouse. There I just saved Alabama ten million $ in training costs. Anything else Alabama?

  • 5. VIRick  |  January 29, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    Alabama Probate Judges are elected positions. No one forced them to run for election, let alone to accept the position upon election. They were elected to do their job, which, among other things, means adhering to the law. Thus, if they're unable to do their job, they can simply resign. Following a new election to fill the vacant position, perhaps someone will be chosen who knows how to do the job in accordance with the law.

  • 6. RQO  |  January 29, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    The point is "elected", and in Alabama I'm guessing unless you put on a show of fighting ME till the end, you are not going to be re-elected. However, the Probate Judges Association is just that, and not a legal government body in and of itself. It would be nice if at least 1 Probate Judge who dissents would file their own pro-ME amicus brief with the 11th CA.

  • 7. davepCA  |  January 29, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    There are already previous examples of other states implementing this change that have required nothing more elaborate than a dab of correction fluid to change one word on the marriage application form. Sheeesh.

  • 8. RobW303  |  January 30, 2015 at 2:09 am

    First, the 11th Circuit should take the advice of an organization that doesn't have a fundamental understanding of the constitution? And they need additional time on top of the years in which they knew this was coming?

  • 9. DaveM_OH  |  January 30, 2015 at 5:45 am

    Legal education for all those state officials who seem to still believe the 10th Amendment gives them the right to ignore Federal court decisions.

    COOPER v. AARON, 358 U.S. 1 (1958), Per Curiam

    "This Court cannot countenance a claim by the Governor and Legislature of a State that there is no duty on state officials to obey federal court orders resting on this Court's considered interpretation of the United States Constitution"

    "The petitioners stand in this litigation as the agents of the State, and they cannot assert their good faith as an excuse for delay in implementing the respondents' constitutional rights, when vindication of those rights has been rendered difficult or impossible by the actions of other state officials."

    "No state legislator or executive or judicial officer can war against the Constitution without violating his solemn oath to support it."

  • 10. wes228  |  January 30, 2015 at 6:14 am

    It still boggles me that such petty, ministerial positions need to be elected in the first place.

  • 11. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  January 30, 2015 at 7:16 am

    It boggles my mind that a state asked the Court to tell them they didn't need to follow the Court's wishes. That's an assbackwards mindfuck if there ever was one…

  • 12. hopalongcassidy  |  January 30, 2015 at 8:12 am

    Probably they're expecting the court to tell them to piss up a rope after which they can rally the knuckledraggers by screeching and moaning about unelected judges and 'judicial activism'.

  • 13. FredDorner  |  January 30, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Since this is Alabama, just cross out the words "Bride" and "Groom", and write in "Cousin #1" and "Cousin #2".

    On a more serious note, if Alabama doesn't inquire about the race and gender of the applicants how will they keep track of which marriages are abominations under Roy Moore's Southern Baptist sharia law?

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