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Defenders of anti-gay marriage ban in Nevada ask Supreme Court to hear Sevcik v. Sandoval

Marriage Equality Trials Sevcik v Sandoval

By Scottie Thomaston

The sponsors of Nevada’s anti-gay marriage amendment, who are also intervenors in Lambda Legal’s lawsuit challenging the ban on equal protection grounds, have petitioned the case, Sevcik v. Sandoval, to the Supreme Court. The petition asks the Court to consider “[w]hether the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause requires Nevada to change its definition of marriage from the union of a man and a woman to the union of two persons.” Notably this is the first marriage equality case to reach the Supreme Court without significant legal standing issues or other considerations that could affect the Justices’ ultimate decision whether or not to hear the case.

Lambda Legal had only appealed the district court’s decision upholding Nevada’s anti-gay marriage ban to the Ninth Circuit Corut of Appeals within the past few days.

SCOTUSBlog writes:

The case is Coalition for the Protection of Marriage v. Beverly Sevcik, et al., and is a plea for the Court to hear the case directly from the federal District Court in Reno without waiting for a ruling on the case by the Ninth Circuit Court. The petition and appendix with the District judge’s ruling can be found here. The case has not yet been assigned a docket number.

At this point, it is not clear whether the filing of this new and different challenge will have any effect on the Court’s consideration of ten other pending petitions on same-sex marriage. The Court is scheduled to consider those other petitions at its private Conference on Friday. Unless the Court chooses to take up the Nevada petition, too, it otherwise would not be ready for consideration for several weeks.

I spoke with Tara Borelli, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, who told me that “This is nothing more than a desperate move by our opponents. This case just arrived at the Ninth Circuit (the appeal was docketed yesterday), and there’s no reason for the Supreme Court to weigh in at this stage. Instead we think the Supreme Court will let the case develop in the Ninth Circuit, as is done in the ordinary course.”

This is the eleventh gay rights petition currently up for review at the Supreme Court.

h/t Kathleen for this filing

Sevcik v. Sandoval – Cert Petition


  • 1. Straight Dave  |  December 5, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Don't you have to lose a case to appeal it? Or a I dumber than I thought?
    Not only did their side win the district court trial, but the Coalition are just intervenors.
    Why do they think SCOTUS will pay any attention to them?

    This appeal is so obviously weird that I surely must have grabbed the wrong end of the stick. Good think I'm never afraid to embarrass myself.

  • 2. Scottie Thomaston  |  December 5, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    Not for cert before judgment. The rule says "any party."

  • 3. Straight Dave  |  December 5, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    Thanks for the clarification, Scottie. If you are implying that an initial appeal to a circuit court must have been filed first, then your explanation makes sense.

  • 4. Scottie Thomaston  |  December 5, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Yeah a couple of days ago Lambda Legal filed its appeal to the Ninth Circuit

  • 5. Mike_in_Houston  |  December 5, 2012 at 9:40 pm

    They know the Ninth Circuit is going to overturn the Judge's horribly reasoned decision in a heartbeat, so they're trying to do an end run around that.

  • 6. Johyn  |  December 6, 2012 at 12:35 am

    Especially with all the opposite sex couples refusing to marry because of the "tain't" same-sex couples have put on the institution. SCTOUS will want to fix that ASAP 🙂

  • 7. Str8Grandmother  |  December 6, 2012 at 4:29 am

    page 26
    the real-world foundation of the natural family as a buffer between family members and the state and as the situs of relational rights on which the state cannot impinge because it is neither the creator nor the dispenser of those rights

    They really start to dive into it starting in page 27 of .pdf

    the irreplaceable foundation of the optimal childrearing mode

    Although interacting with and influenced by other institutions such as law, property, and religion, marriage in our society is a distinct, unitary social institution and does not have two separate, independent existences, one “civil” and one “religious.”

    In material ways, genderless marriage will be an institution radically different from the manwoman marriage institution.3 This radical difference between the two possible marriage institutions could not be otherwise: fundamentally different meanings, when magnified by institutional power and influence, produce divergent social identities, aspirations, projects, or ways of behaving and thus different social goods. To say otherwise would be to ignore the undisputed effects that social institutions have in the formation and transformation of individuals.4 The reality is that changing the meaning of marriage to that of “any two persons” will transform the institution profoundly, if not immediately then certainly over time as the new meaning is mandated in texts, in schools, and in many other parts of the public square and voluntarily published by the media and other institutions, with society, especially its children, thereby losing the ability to discern the meanings of the old institution.

    We demand the right to keep telling gays how evil and vile they are because the Bible says so! To transmit the meaning, but not the word religion, they used the word "Doctrines" in place of Religion. page 30 of the .pdf
    Second, at the same time, a constitutionally mandated genderless marriage regime will effectively advance a particular conception of the moral equality of forms of
    sexuality, a conception grounded in the influential “comprehensive doctrines”8 of many Americans, particularly among the Nation’s elites, but one contested by the comprehensive doctrines of many other Americans.

    Basically- we want to keep societal disapproval of sexual minorities, if gays can marry straight couples won't want to AND they will somehow stop making babies, granting entrance into the institution of Civil Marriage will change it (but I didn't notice them mentioning Loving v Virginia do you?) and make it less desirable to straight couples. Big argument on the David Blankenhorn "de-institutionalization of Marriage" most of their brief is on that. What have I missed? Oh yes CIVIL MARRIAGE must look like HOLY MARRIAGE, in other words the churches "own" the definition of Civil marriage not the Law.

  • 8. Steve  |  December 6, 2012 at 7:10 am

    "It would be horrible if the law backed a particular idea of marriage, but it would be awesome if it backed our idea of marriage, because it's the one in the Bible"

  • 9. Leo  |  December 6, 2012 at 8:07 am

    The reality is that changing the meaning of marriage to that of “any two persons” will transform the institution profoundly, if not immediately then certainly over time

    Way to confuse facts with conjecture. The reality is that it hasn't transformed immediately anywhere. There are no ifs.

  • 10. Mike in Baltimore  |  December 8, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    "the irreplaceable foundation of the optimal childrearing mode"

    So they are against adoption?

    And they think two people have to be married to 'produce' children?

  • 11. Sagesse  |  December 6, 2012 at 5:36 am

    Having digested this a bit overnight, thoughts to ponder:

    Quite apart from whether the Court would take it at this point, should they take it… This neanderthal judgment would definitely benefit from the 'sober second thought' of the appeals court, before the Supreme court considers it.

    Is this the right (best) 'right to marry' case?

    Will the Perry plaintiffs weigh in on whether the Court takes this case (I believe they can do that), and would they favour or oppose it at this time?

  • 12. david0296  |  December 6, 2012 at 8:10 am

    The Nevada ruling was laughable. If gays get married, then straights won't want to marry anymore. Yeah, right. Massachusetts has had marriage equality for over 9 years. There hasn't been a single straight couple living there that has boycotted "marriage". If the judge is going to fabricate a reason to discriminate against gay Americans, he has an obligation to prove his argument is factual.

    I'm actually embarrassed for these morons that had the temerity to forward this ruling to the Supreme Court. They truly are delusional.

  • 13. Straight Ally #3008  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:05 am

    When would SCOTUS grant or deny cert?

  • 14. Straight Ally #3008  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Whoops…looks like Jan 7. Somehow that seems ridiculously fast. Just fortuitous timing?

  • 15. Kathleen  |  December 6, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Response briefs are due Jan. 7, then it's generally a week or so later that it's distributed to a conference. If this petition follows a normal schedule, it won't even be considered in a conference until mid-February at the earliest.

  • 16. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  December 13, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    […] who has intervened in Lambda Legal’s challenge to the ban Sevcik v. Sandoval in its defense, petitioned the Supreme Court to take up the case before judgment at the appeals court (where it was appealed a few days […]

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