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Sixth Circuit denies request for initial hearing with all circuit judges in Michigan marriage equality case

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

Michigan state sealThe Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied a request by Michigan officials to hear DeBoer v. Snyder, the challenge to the state’s same-sex marriage ban, with the full panel of judges. The state officials wanted all Sixth Circuit judges to hear the case initially (called an initial en banc hearing), instead of a three-judge panel.

The state officials had argued that an initial en banc hearing would allow the case to proceed faster, and they had noted that all states within the Sixth Circuit now have same-sex marriage cases pending there. That could potentially result in different three-judge panels reaching different conclusions on the same issue, whereas one decision from an initial en banc hearing resolve the case, with all judges weighing in.

The Sixth Circuit asked the same-sex couple in the DeBoer case to respond to the request, and the plaintiff couple filed a brief in opposition.

The Sixth Circuit’s order denying the request noted that no judge was in favor of an initial en banc hearing.

Thanks to Kathleen Perrin for these filings

For more information on DeBoer v. Snyder from The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, click here.


  • 1. Corey  |  April 29, 2014 at 10:09 am

    That no judge was in favor of an initial en banc hearing is very telling. It suggests to me that those who feel the anti-SSM ban should be left intact do not feel good about its chances before a full review. They must know how the wind blows; they know their colleagues on the bench. They must also detect that the Supremes are not likely to weigh in favorably on maintaining the ban, even if that result could be secured. I doubt very much if en banc is in the cards even after the panel review.

  • 2. Zack12  |  April 29, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    It just stinks that George W was able to stack it with so many appointees.

  • 3. Mike in Baltimore  |  April 29, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    I think shrub was starting to realize he was losing the 4th Circuit, and felt he 'needed' to do something as a result. (At one time early in this century, the 4th was considered one of, if not the MOST, CONservative of the Circuit courts. Guess why the GITMO prisoners were initially taken through 4th Circuit courts?)

  • 4. Zack12  |  April 29, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Indeed… I'll say this..only now are Democrats finally understading how important the judicial branches are.
    All of the gay marriage rulings and ruling striking down voter id laws have mostly come from Democratic appointed judges.
    Elections matter, simple as that and 2016 will be as important as any other in our life time.

  • 5. Mike in Baltimore  |  April 29, 2014 at 6:49 pm

    ALL elections matter, even local primaries. Guess how the school boards in some jurisdictions have become so politically CONservative?

    In two states (NJ and VA), the governor and other various state officers are elected the year after the Presidential election. In others (such as MD), the governor and other various state officers are elected in the even year between Presidential elections. In some states (KY, MS, LA), the governor and other various state officers are elected in the off year before a Presidential election.

    In just about all states, local elections (for mayor, city council, dog catcher [where applicable], etc.) are held in any and all years.

    Before any of the general elections are primaries. Many times, what happens in the local elections 'drifts' upward to state and state judicial elections, and eventually to national elections. Does anyone think Chris Christy, if he had not been elected governor of NJ in 2009, then re-elected in 2013, for quite some time would have been considered a (if not THE) leader for the 2016 GOTP Presidential election?

    And that is why I started this post with "ALL elections matter, even local primaries."

  • 6. KarlS  |  April 30, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    Yes, elections are important but there is no real correlation, much less causation between the opinions of federal judges (up to and including the SC) and the President who submitted them for appointment. The fact is that they go "against" the politics of their appointer just as often as they go 'with' them.

  • 7. Mike in Baltimore  |  May 1, 2014 at 2:11 am

    First, Federal judges (from District Courts to the SC) are NOT elected. I didn't claim that they were. And not all state judges are elected.

    Second, do you really believe Justices Scalia, Roberts, Thomas and Alito go against the philosophy of the Presidents who nominated them even 1/4 of the time? Do you really believe Justices Kagan, Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor vote against the philosophy of the Presidents who nominated them even 1/3 the time?

    Justice Kennedy has been a good friend of the GLBT community. But on other issues, he votes in a consistent conservative manner. Of all his votes, I doubt he votes opposite the philosophy of his 'nominator' (Ronnie Ray-Gun) less than 1/3 of the time. And most of those votes not in accordance with the philosophy of Ray-Gun were for the GLBT community.

    Oh, and when I said "many times", I did NOT say "all the time".

  • 8. KarlS  |  May 1, 2014 at 9:01 am

    What made you think I claimed you said anything about electing them?
    Souter, Blackmun, Stevens and Kennedy, hardly a cadre of fanatical conservatism, were all appointed by Republican prezes.

  • 9. JayJonson  |  May 1, 2014 at 9:14 am

    True, but all of them became despised by the Republican base, which is why W. made damn sure he appointed the most conservative justices he could find. When he tried to appoint Harriet Meyers to succeed Sandra Day O'Connor, his base revolted. Not only was Meyers unqualified, she was deemed too moderate. When he realized that she could not get confirmed, Bush nominated Alito, who has been dutifully reactionary and anti-gay. His other appointee, John Roberts, has, except for the ruling on the Affordable Care Act, has toed the Republican Party line–predictably, anti-gay, anti-affirmative action, pro-business, etc.

    While Justices can "evolve" on the Court, nowadays it would be pretty difficult for a Republican president to nominate a moderate.

  • 10. Lymis  |  April 30, 2014 at 5:30 am

    "All of the gay marriage rulings and ruling striking down voter id laws have mostly come from Democratic appointed judges."

    That's simply not true. Every time we get a positive ruling, it's common to see a lot of buzz about how the judges who ruled in our favor are often Bush I, Bush II, or even Reagan appointees.

    Elections do matter, and the polarization of politics these days makes it that much more important – because I think it's far more likely that any near-future appointments by a Republican administration will definitely be far more likely to be anti-gay – but that doesn't justify getting the actual facts wrong.

    We're getting a lot of pro-gay rulings from Republican-appointed judges.

  • 11. JayJonson  |  May 1, 2014 at 6:28 am

    Yes, we are getting a lot of pro-gay rulings from Republican-appointed judges, but that is mainly at the District level. District judges are expected to follow SCOTUS precedent. Hence, only a renegade judge would ignore Windsor. A few of the judges who made the right decision, such as the one in Kentucky, made it if not reluctantly, at least gave the impression that they had no choice after the Windsor decision was handed down.

    With a bare 5-4 margin on the Supreme Court, marriage equality is still quite vulnerable. If a Republican gets to replace a "liberal" or even Kennedy, you can be sure that a new majority will toss stare decisis to the wind and reverse or reinterpret Windsor.

    That is why it is crucial that a Democratic President be elected in 2016 and that the Senate remain in Democratic hands in 2014.

  • 12. Zack12  |  May 1, 2014 at 6:39 am

    Indeed and one more thing to keep in mind. There are some moderates Republicans judges out there but St. Ronnie and Bush Sr and Jr made sure the ones on the Supreme Court were as far as to the right as they could get.
    Keep in mind Robert Bork was supposed to be the Supreme Court nominee back in the 80's, not Kennedy.
    And let's not kid ourselves, if Kennedy or one of the four liberals dies or retires and Republicans control the Senate and the White House in 2016, kiss any chance of equality goodbye.
    We can't afford to sit out this year and we sure as hell can't afford to sit out in 2016, out future depends on it.

  • 13. JayJonson  |  May 1, 2014 at 7:33 am

    Thanks for reminding us about Bork. Had Bork been confirmed, we would probably still have sodomy laws, there would be a majority of states with amendments like Colorado's Amendment 2, which was enacted specifically to deny gay people equal rights under the law, and the Defense of Marriage Act would still be intact.

    During the confirmation hearings, Bork denied the charges leveled against him by Senator Kennedy. Yet when he later wrote a book, "Slouching toward Gomorrah," which included a jeremiad against homosexuality, he completely validated the concerns that Senator Kennedy and others raised. Thank God, he was not confirmed.

  • 14. Zack12  |  May 1, 2014 at 7:35 am

    Ironically Scalia getting onto the court ruined his chances.
    By the time Bork was nominated, Scalia's far right views were already known, there was no way Kennedy and others were going to let Bork on there.
    Such a pity they couldn't stop Thomas from getting on though.

  • 15. JayJonson  |  May 1, 2014 at 7:36 am

    Yes, if only Thomas had been successfully "Borked"!

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