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US Supreme Court Considers Marriage Case This Week


Marriage finally comes to Illinois, months after the state passed a marriage equality bill. Numerous states schedule marriage case milestones for this summer. The Attorney General of Florida insists that a marriage ban is necessary but can’t explain why. And the US Supreme Court will take a look at marriage in Oregon this week.

Illinois passed a marriage bill more than six months ago, and now it’s finally taking effect. A handful of counties started issuing licenses a few months ago, but as of this week, the entire state now enjoys the freedom to marry.

And over the next few months, we could have more good news in several other states. The Fifth Circuit has set a briefing schedule in a Texas case. Opening briefs there are due July 9, with a reply due in August. In Michigan, a marriage case is now scheduled for oral argument on August 6. In Nevada, the Sixth Circuit has committed to holding oral argument in September. And although they haven’t set a day yet, a separate case in Idaho is already scheduled for argument before the Sixth Circuit on September 8.

Cases are also heating up in Wisconsin. The state Supreme Court has declined to hear a state lawsuit against Wisconsin’s marriage ban. That leaves a federal suit still in play, with a ruling due at any time. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has asked the court to stay its eventual decision, which if granted would delay marriages from starting until the state could file an appeal. The plaintiffs have countered that the state can’t show evidence that an immediate start to marriages would cause any harm.

At this point, North Dakota is the one state left in the country that has an unchallenged marriage ban. And now we have a rough timeline for that final suit to be filed. Attorney Joshua Newville, who filed a marriage lawsuit in South Dakota last month, says he’ll be ready to file a North Dakota suit in six to eight weeks.

Meanwhile Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is struggling to justify the state’s marriage ban. According to new briefs, Bondi claims that the ban promotes stable families, but can’t explain how. And she says that the ban keeps heterosexual parents together, but can’t explain that one either.

The National Organization for Marriage is still struggling to stop marriage in Oregon. They’ve asked the US Supreme Court to halt the licenses, which the state’s been issuing since a marriage ban was overturned last month. Justice Kennedy will consider their request this week.

NOM’s chances of accomplishing anything here are not great. This is different from other states where marriage was put on hold, since there’s no pending appeal in the Oregon case. NOM might want to intervene, but they’ve failed to do that once already. In fact, in their application to the Supreme Court, NOM conveniently omitted the District Court’s ruling that they didn’t have standing.

Meanwhile, NOM’s problems in Maine are still far from over. They’ve just been fined over $50,000 and ordered to reveal the donors to their 2009 campaign to ban marriage. Now they say they’ll appeal that ruling, which could drag things out for another year at a time when the organization is already spread too thin to have much impact.


  • 1. Jim Kane  |  June 3, 2014 at 8:03 am

    Don't forget that Pam Bondi is a Serial Divorcee and is not legally married to the man she is living with at the moment. I guess she is the female Newt Gingrich.

  • 2. Steve  |  June 3, 2014 at 8:09 am

    And she never procreated.

  • 3. Jim Kane  |  June 3, 2014 at 8:14 am

    And we all applaud the decision.

  • 4. Mike_in_Houston  |  June 3, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Now don't pick on her; she's just trying to live up to Jesus' words in John 4:18 (NIV): "The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband." Ms. Bondi has only had two husbands, but she's still relatively young; give her time…

  • 5. Jim Kane  |  June 3, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Shooting Fish in a Barrel may not be sporting, but sometimes it is just plain fun.

  • 6. brandall  |  June 3, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Pam Bondi press release this morning:

    "I take exception to those who have sought to manipulate our brief, trying to make it something it is not. The brief does not argue for or against same sex marriage as a matter of policy, wisdom, or fairness. Those decisions are for the voters of each state, not for lawyers or courts. It is my duty to protect Florida from the “harm” of a federal injunction overriding the will of Florida voters."

    Did she read this before it went out?

  • 7. davep  |  June 3, 2014 at 9:29 am

    At least she had the good sense to put scare quotes around the word "harm".

  • 8. Jim Kane  |  June 3, 2014 at 9:29 am

    She has obviously never heard of the Tyranny of the Majority as defined by Founding Father, First Vice President and Second President, John Adams. This is what the Judicial Branch of the US Government is for, to prevent Federal and State laws from violating the US Constitution. But this would require her to read and she is too busy trolling for her next ex-husband to do that.

  • 9. JayJonson  |  June 3, 2014 at 9:47 am

    She certainly never wrote it. Just another politician who has suddenly discovered that the polls aren't where they were when she ran for election on a "traditional values" platform. She and Scott Walker suddenly are neutral when it comes to marriage equality.

  • 10. Steve  |  June 3, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Her duty it to uphold the Constitution. Not to defend every shit "the people" come up with.

    And that she never argued against it as a matter of policy is a blatant lie.

  • 11. Pat  |  June 3, 2014 at 8:09 am

    Nevada and Idaho are the 9th circuit, not 6th! Too bad these posts regularly contain basic mistakes…

    Question: was the August 6 hearing of the Michigan case confirmed? Several sources reported it but it seems commenters here mentioned it was never formally scheduled.

  • 12. Ragavendran  |  June 3, 2014 at 8:34 am

    There hasn't been an order issued regarding oral argument for the Michigan appeal that I can see on PACER.

  • 13. debater7474  |  June 3, 2014 at 8:11 am

    The 10th will probably wait until they have both the Oklahoma and Utah decisions finished so that they can release them together at once. Since both cases will require the judges to first write the opinions and then allow time for the dissenter to write opinions that specifically respond to the controlling decision, it wouldn't be surprising if we don't get the two decisions for a long time. As for the 4th, it will also require time for a dissent to be written after the opinion is finished, so I would probably guess that it's going to take a while.

  • 14. Mike_in_Houston  |  June 3, 2014 at 9:06 am

    So when, if ever, is NOM going to file its brief to the Supreme Court re the Oregon stay that it requested? It's almost a day overdue right now. Or does NOM figure that it should get what it wants simply by virtue of its having asked for it, and thus doesn't need no stinkin' brief? More important, does its failure to file an even remotely timely brief have any effect on its original request? In other words, can the Supreme Court throw it out (or does it have to)?

  • 15. brandall  |  June 3, 2014 at 9:11 am

    The National Organization for Marriage has until 10 a.m. Tuesday PDT to respond to the briefs from Rosenblum and the plaintiffs. Kennedy, who handles emergency requests from the region including Oregon, could rule on NOM's motion or pass it on to the full court.….

  • 16. Mike_in_Houston  |  June 3, 2014 at 9:29 am

    Thanks, brandall. I wasn't thinking. Obviously, the bad guys have to respond to our brief and not just send another brief to Kennedy.

  • 17. davep  |  June 3, 2014 at 9:30 am

    It's 9:30 am PST now. Tick tock, NOM.

  • 18. Pat  |  June 3, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Will the brief become available immediately, as soon as they submit it?

  • 19. brandall  |  June 3, 2014 at 9:46 am

    I believe so, but Davep or Ragavendran are our resident experts on pulling briefs as they are posted. They are so fast at it, sometimes I think they have a brief link before it has finished uploading to the court's site!

  • 20. Ragavendran  |  June 3, 2014 at 10:08 am

    SCOTUS is harder. They don't update their docket information promptly and I'm not aware that those filings are publicly available.

  • 21. Sagesse  |  June 3, 2014 at 11:23 am

    Scotusblog pretty prompt about posting things… don't know if they are following this.

  • 22. davep  |  June 3, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Thanks, but I think you refer to one of our 'other Daves'. Credit where it is due : )

  • 23. DaveM  |  June 3, 2014 at 11:06 am

    Sure enough, they filed.

    Jun 3 2014Reply of applicant National Organization for Marriage, Inc. filed.

    Now, where is that hiding…

  • 24. brandall  |  June 3, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Found it!

  • 25. Michael  |  June 4, 2014 at 1:31 am

    They refuse to follow the law in other states, e.g., Maine, so they figure why should they have to follow it here? Their continued lawlessness is shocking.

  • 26. grod  |  June 4, 2014 at 7:20 am

    Michael lawlessness is not too strong a word. This would be the third case in which NOM challenges an aspect of the mandate of Maine's Commission on Government Ethic and Election Practices. They lost the other two. What I do not understand why their status with IRS is not revoked. Here in Canada, a registered charity can only allocate 10% of its resources for public policy advocacy.

  • 27. Jae  |  June 3, 2014 at 9:37 am

    Can anyone tell me the possible outcomes in VA meaning if it will be a sweeping ruling for NC and other states in the circuit if it is not held En Banc does that affect the scope of the ruling?

  • 28. Retired_Lawyer  |  June 3, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Regardless of the sweep of the Fourth Circuit's opinion, and even if it is our favor, it is not likely to have any immediate effect. On page 58 of the "Brief on Behalf of Janet M. Rainey," filed for the one Virginia state official defendant (the Registrar of Vital Records) on April 11, 2014, Attorney General Mark R. Herring and Solicitor General Stuart A. Raphael, winding up an eloquent series of arguments in our favor, went on to write:"The trial court was correct to stay its injunction pending appeal, and this Court [the Fourth Circuit] should likewise stay the mandate pending review by the Supreme Court. Fed. R. App.P. 41(d)(2). … [I]t would wreak havoc to permit marriages to proceed under an injunction that the Supreme Court might later stay or set aside. …There is no need to create such uncertainty when the issue can be definitely resolved in the Supreme Court's 2014-15 term." I think it is a foregone conclusion that this request, effectively in the name of the Commonwealth of Virginia, would be granted. Notice the assumption that the Supreme Court would take up Bostic v. Schaeffer, Rainey, and McQuigg, Appeal No. 14-1169, in the term starting this fall.

  • 29. Michael Grabow  |  June 3, 2014 at 10:53 am

    "There is no need to create such uncertainty when the issue can be definitely resolved in the Supreme Court's 2014-15 term."

    I don't appreciate this line in the least.

  • 30. Jae  |  June 3, 2014 at 11:44 am

    So the scope of the ruling isn't affected because it isn't heard En Banc? Or is that something up to the 3 panel judge ?

  • 31. davep  |  June 3, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    No, the scope of the rulings is determined by exactly how the court rules, not by how many judges were involved in the decision. For example, a circuit court could (at least theoretically) rule that a state law is unconstitutional, but that only that particular state must stop enforcing that particular law, if there is something about that particular state and law and that particular suit that doesn't apply to the other states within the Circuit. But it's more likely that a circuit court decision would apply to all states within the circuit. It all depends on the specifics of the case.

  • 32. Shaun  |  June 3, 2014 at 10:58 am

    Matt never mentions anything happening in Nevada. 🙁

  • 33. FabianMHeinzel  |  June 5, 2014 at 11:04 pm

    I would like to point out that the Sixth Circuit isn't doing anything about ID and NV, as both of those are in the Ninth. Please fix 🙂

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