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Plaintiffs’ briefs filed in most Sixth Circuit marriage equality cases

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

With the exception of Ohio (because the case is on a different briefing schedule) briefs have been filed in all same-sex marriage cases within the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The briefs were all filed by the same-sex couples who prevailed in their respective district courts. Thanks to Kathleen Perrin and Equality Case Files, the filings are below:

Michigan (DeBoer v. Snyder)

Tennessee (Tanco v. Haslam, with appendix)

Kentucky (Bourke v. Beshear)

The Ohio brief will be filed today, so we’ll add that when we have it.


  • 1. debater7474  |  June 10, 2014 at 9:36 am

    Is the Sixth going to place all four of these cases before the same panel?

  • 2. DrHeimlich  |  June 10, 2014 at 10:13 am

    I didn't see anything in the court rules that covered this. I'm unaware of any motions from parties in any of the cases asking for the same panel, so I suppose the default would be they'd go to different panels.

    But really, we probably won't know until two weeks before oral arguments. (When the panels are announced.)

  • 3. debater7474  |  June 10, 2014 at 10:32 am

    But it seems to me that it would impossible to put it before different panels, because then you could have the insane legal situation of simultaneous contradictory rulings on the question from within the same circuit.

  • 4. StraightDave  |  June 10, 2014 at 10:48 am

    Which is why the 10th ran them back-to-back with the same panel. The fact that the 6th synchronized the briefing schedules leads me to think this was their intent all along. Plus, it's got to greatly aid judicial efficiency by not requiring multiple panels to do all the same thinking all over again from scratch, even if they did reach the same conclusion. At the circuit level, it really amounts to one quasi-unified case with a few separate details that probably don't amount to much in the end. I'd be shocked if they used multiple panels

  • 5. Ragavendran  |  June 10, 2014 at 11:22 am

    But at the end of the day, they are still four different cases (one of them consisting of two consolidated appeals). This means, if the same panel is assigned to all four cases, then they have to author four different opinions, right? And they'd likely wait until all four are finished before releasing them, meaning it would actually take much longer than if each case is handled by a different panel. So from a judicial efficiency point of view, I agree that the same panel should be assigned, but from speed of justice point of view, maybe not. Unless it is permissible for the panel to author just one opinion on the common issues and issue four separate judgments/orders, which I doubt has ever been done before.

  • 6. Japrisot  |  June 10, 2014 at 11:29 am

    They don't have to author four opinions. They can author one or two tailored to individual circumstances and summarily affirm, overrule, etc. pursuant to the opinions they drafted.

  • 7. ebohlman  |  June 10, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Add to this that De Boer is a) considerably broader in scope than the other cases (dealing with licensing and adoption as well as recognition) and b) is the only one with a factual record. Tanco is still a preliminary injunction if I remember correctly. Henry/Obergefell and Bourke are probably the most similar cases, but timing considerations weigh against joint assignment.

    I think this is one of those ideas that looks sensible at first glance but breaks down on closer examination.

  • 8. Ragavendran  |  June 10, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Yes, if that happens, it will almost surely trigger an en banc rehearing. Seeing as they unanimously denied an initial en banc hearing on one of the cases, perhaps their intent is, as StraightDave says, to have the same panel handle all five appeals (which, on the other hand, is a huge burst of caseload for one panel; see my reply to StraightDave).

  • 9. StraightDave  |  June 10, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Then let the courts bitch at the states for wasting their time with idiotic appeals. I think one of them, Friedman(?), came pretty close to that.

  • 10. M.-  |  June 10, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Appart from asking the same that debater7474 already did, I'd please like to know how are the panels on these cases composed of. Any idea? Thanks!!

  • 11. ebohlman  |  June 10, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    They're randomly assigned, as is the case at every level below the SCOTUS.

  • 12. SWB1987  |  June 10, 2014 at 10:01 am

    Is this circuit like the 10th circuit which will let us know who the judges are prior or like the 4th circuit which is day of. Have oral arguments been scheduled also?

  • 13. DrHeimlich  |  June 10, 2014 at 10:09 am

    According to the rules from the 6th's web site, the judge panel of a case is announced on the first business day of the week, two weeks before the scheduled oral argument. So we won't know the panels for some time… but the lawyers will know who they're arguing in front of two weeks ahead of time.

    The rules also allude to a panel selection system that is mostly random, but gives some preference to pairing judges who have not sat together on the same panel in some time.

  • 14. david  |  June 10, 2014 at 11:44 am

    I know one of the partners in Mogill, Posner and Cohen. I will send out an email to my friend and have him inquire with either Ken or Carole on the panel. He did confirm that DeBoer V Snyder hearing is 8/6/14

  • 15. DaveM  |  June 10, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    Watch this space for the schedule for oral arguments and panel composition:

  • 16. BenG1980  |  June 10, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    Yes, and assuming that all the arguments (MI, OH, KY, TN) are scheduled for the week of Aug. 4, the calendar for the 6th Circuit cases will be posted on July 21.

  • 17. DaveM_OH  |  June 12, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Joe Dunman, counsel for Bourke et al., posted here that he expects orals to be first or second week of August.

  • 18. BenG1980  |  June 11, 2014 at 8:00 am

    Here's the link to the Defendant's (Appellant's) brief filed yesterday in the Ohio case, Henry v. Himes.

    The Plaintiffs' (Appellees') brief in this case is due on July 8, and the Defendant's (Appellant's) reply is due on July 15.

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