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Justice Alito declines to halt same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania

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The U.S. Supreme Court. Attribution: Jeff Kubina
The U.S. Supreme Court. Attribution: Jeff Kubina

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has denied a request to halt same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania.

The request had been filed by Schuylkill County Clerk of the Orphan Court Theresa Santai-Gaffney after the Third Circuit Court of Appeals denied her motion to intervene in the case, Whitewood v. Wolf. It reached Justice Alito in his capacity as Circuit Justice for the Third Circuit.

A federal judge struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban back in May, and state officials quickly announced they wouldn’t appeal the decision. Same-sex couples have been getting married in Pennsylvania since then.

The clerk filed her request to intervene in the case in order to take up defense of the ban, but the district court and the appeals court declined to allow her to intervene.

She can request the stay from another Justice, but it seems unlikely to be granted.


  • 1. brandall  |  July 9, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Denied with no comment. That should give the rest of the states some thought before they try these emergency appeals.

  • 2. dingomanusa  |  July 9, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    Alito denying her may be a good sign as to how SCOTUS will eventually rule on ME, ya think?.

  • 3. Scottie Thomaston  |  July 9, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    I doubt it is really relevant to an eventual ruling. This was a clerk trying to reopen a case that ended in May, and she had standing problems of her own. I think it just means she wouldn't have been able to proceed anyway even with a stay.

  • 4. DoctorHeimlich  |  July 9, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Well, I love the wishful thinking. And I do think we'll get the outcome we expect and deserve, with Kennedy and the liberal justices. But if Alito actually changes the view he expressed in his Windsor dissent, knock me over with a feather.

  • 5. Bruno71  |  July 9, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Yeah I really don't see it happening with Alito (or Roberts either). He's by-the-book enough to rule on the core issues with her request, rather than the issue at large. But one can hope I suppose.

  • 6. ragefirewolf  |  July 10, 2014 at 4:59 am

    I don't know why, but I've always loved that expression: "Knock me over with a feather."

    Sorry, I know that was a totally irrelevant comment, haha.

  • 7. SeattleRobin  |  July 9, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    If Alito denied her it's difficult to imagine anyone else saying yes. Yipee!

  • 8. brandall  |  July 9, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    What about the Pope? Well, in the Pope's mind I'm sure he wishes…..

  • 9. ragefirewolf  |  July 10, 2014 at 5:00 am

    I'm not sure the Pope has anything to do with this, other than the fact that there are Catholic justices…

    The Pope doesn't get a vote…your comment is "uncommonly silly."

  • 10. Scottie Thomaston  |  July 9, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    That's what I think too, who else would step in to say yes?

  • 11. Bruno71  |  July 9, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    I could see Thomas maybe.

  • 12. sfbob  |  July 9, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Might depend on Thomas's views regarding standing issues.

  • 13. Bruno71  |  July 9, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    I've always felt like whatever views he has on anything are trampled by his exceedingly fundamentalist views on homosexuality and other issues that are influenced by his ubiquitous religious zealotry.

  • 14. Tinmanic  |  July 9, 2014 at 4:32 pm

    Actually, in his Lawrence concurrence in 2003, Justice Thomas said that laws against sodomy are "uncommonly silly" and that if he'd been a legislator, he would have voted to repeal the ban, but that as a judge he found it constitutional.….

    That's why I actually thought he could have been in the Windsor majority last year — because of that, and because of federalism issues. Silly me.

  • 15. Bruno71  |  July 9, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    That may have been an exception. We all know he's been shown to like unconventional sexual acts. Just ask Anita.

  • 16. queerevolutionet  |  July 10, 2014 at 6:30 am

    That would be the first time Thomas did anything besides rubberstamp Alito

  • 17. JayJonson  |  July 10, 2014 at 6:51 am

    I think you mean "rubberstamp Scalia."

  • 18. DaveM_OH  |  July 10, 2014 at 7:13 am

    Or both.

    Justice agreement, all cases / divided cases / 5-4 cases
    Alito-Thomas: 95.8 / 87.5 / 90
    Thomas-Scalia: 94.5 / 84 / 80

    (Ginsburg-Kagan isn't far behind; 94.4 / 83.3 / 90 )

    See p. 29

  • 19. KarlS  |  July 9, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Oh, my! This is a very welcome surprise! I doubt any of the others on the court would be welcoming of this woman shopping her appeal from one to the other with her hat in her hand, and a turd in her pocket…so to speak. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • 20. Margo Schulter  |  July 9, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    The way I read this, as do others, is basically that Justice Alito is going with Hollingsworth v. Perry. Since no one with Article III standing is appealing, there’s no basis for a stay.

    And, in a sense, it could be a kind of comity, or respect for a State’s new equilibrium based on accepting marriage equality.

  • 21. Bruno71  |  July 9, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    CO judge rules marriage ban unconstitutional, issues immediate stay:

  • 22. Bruno71  |  July 9, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    CO judge rules marriage ban unconstitutional, issues immediate stay:

  • 23. ragefirewolf  |  July 10, 2014 at 5:10 am

    "Issues immediate stay." I have a problem with that every time…especially since the appeals court for the federal circuit already ruled against Utah's version of the same time. Yes, they stayed their decision and yes, he's a state judge, but he had no reason to do so – everyone else's reasoning for doing so aside.

  • 24. brandall  |  July 9, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    News flash: Brian Brown comes out of the closet. Quits NOM. Say's he's sorry. Say's marriage equality is going to happen and it's the right thing.

    Sorry….just a fantasy based on 3 great ME news stories this afternoon.

  • 25. KarlS  |  July 9, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    You dirty rat


  • 26. jpmassar  |  July 9, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    DENVER — A judge in Adams County has ruled that Colorado’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause, agreeing with 23 federal courts so far that have come to the same conclusion on same-sex marriage bans in other states.

    The ruling Wednesday is the first decision on the constitutionality of Colorado’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, which was passed in 2006.

    District Judge C. Scott Crabtree ruled that the arguments for keeping the ban, that marriage is about the “protection of families” and “procreation of children”, are “recently fabricated” arguments for the purpose of denying that discrimination is occurring.

    “It is merely a pretext for discriminating against same-sex marriages,” Crabtree writes.

    Crabtree cites the legislature’s passage of civil unions, which stop short of offering same-sex couples the same degree of legal protections as marriage, as evidence that Colorado’s ban is discriminatory.

    But Crabtree stayed the ruling, which is could be appealed to the Colorado Supreme Court.

    The ruling won’t affect the showdown in Boulder, where Clerk Hillary Hall has been issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples ever since the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Court, which covers Colorado, threw out Utah’s same-sex marriage ban.

  • 27. Bruno71  |  July 9, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Quickly glanced at the bottom of the ruling, he goes through justifications for the stay based on the four points of reasoning. Kind of annoying.

  • 28. RnL2008  |  July 9, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Now that Justice Alito has denied her request, she can go and ask ANYONE of the other Justices, but it is more than likely that she will get the same answer………Glad to hear that Justice Alito DIDN'T given in to her!!!

  • 29. ragefirewolf  |  July 10, 2014 at 5:17 am

    I'm even more surprised that he didn't just go ahead and refer the request to the entire court. That would have cut off her attempting that, yes? Instead he denied her himself…very interesting.

  • 30. RnL2008  |  July 10, 2014 at 7:00 am

    It would have…..but now we will have to wait and see what she does… guess is she will be denied from the others,except maybe Justice Scalia……but even then I think she is outta luck!!!

  • 31. Lynn_E  |  July 10, 2014 at 12:05 am

    Does anyone know if NOM' s Mr. Brown has gone apoplectic yet?

  • 32. Retired_Lawyer  |  July 10, 2014 at 6:34 am

    Notice that Justice Alito denied the clerk's motion without bothering to ask for responses from the plaintiffs. When John Eastman sought relief from Justice Kennedy in the Geiger v. Kitzhaber case, Justice Kennedy called for responses, allowed a reply, and referred the matter to the whole Court (denying it with breathtaking speed, the day after the reply). Nothing could more thoroughly discredit the clerk's attempt to intervene and appeal than the approach taken by Justice Alito.

  • 33. eizverson22  |  July 10, 2014 at 7:38 am

    Will one day be recognized worldwide.<img src=>

  • 34. TomPHL  |  July 10, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Was it only the stay which was denied or was her request to intervene also denied?

  • 35. Zack12  |  July 10, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Both. Bottom line, it's the end of the line for her and the other bigots trying to stop gay marriage in PA.

  • 36. TomPHL  |  July 10, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Thanks for the info. Nice to know that my marriage is not going to be turned off even briefly.

  • 37. Equality On TrialThis sum&hellip  |  July 12, 2014 at 10:42 am

    […] was rejected by the district court and the appeals court. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito declined to issue a stay that would have halted same-sex marriages in the state. While the clerk attempting to intervene in […]

  • 38. disorder anxiety&hellip  |  July 13, 2014 at 5:05 am

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