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Pennsylvania court lays out questions for marriage equality hearing

Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

Pennsylvania state sealA Pennsylvania commonwealth court yesterday laid out the questions lawyers should address in a challenge to a county official’s decision to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  From the AP:

The court wants lawyers to focus on whether the court has jurisdiction, given that [Montgomery County Orphan’s Court Clerk Bruce] Hanes is a judicial officer. Arguments are set for Sept. 4 in Harrisburg.

Other questions are whether issuing marriage licenses are a judicial act and whether the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s marriage law can be raised as a defense in the case.

Also at issue are whether the Department of Health has standing to sue, and if not, the effect of Democratic Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s delegation of defense of the law to Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s legal staff.

Both sides of the lawsuit have filed briefs with the court in recent weeks, with Hanes calling Pennsylvania’s marriage laws “arbitrary and suspect,” as well as “very similar” to the Defense of Marriage Act, which the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated in part this June.  Pennsylvania’s Republican governor, Tom Corbett, on the other hand, wrote in a legal brief that “[t]here is no limit to the administrative and legal chaos that is likely to flow from the clerk’s unlawful practice.”

According to the AP, Hanes had issued 140 licenses to same-sex couples as of mid-week, 72 of which have been recorded into marriages.

Update: Here’s the filing!  Thanks to Sara in the comments for the link.

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