Supreme Court Halts Gay Marriages in Utah


The Supreme Court has put Utah's same-sex marriages on hold pending appeal of the case.

Sotomayor apparently referred the matter to the full Court rather than rule independently, which she had the option to do.

Reads the order:

"The application for stay presented to Justice Sotomayor and by her referred to the Court is granted. The permanent injunction issued by the United States District Court for the District of Utah, case No. 2:13-cv-217, on December 20, 32013, is stayed pending final disposition of the appeal by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit."

Writes Lyle Denniston at SCOTUSblog:

The order appeared to have the support of the full Court, since there were no noted dissents.  The ruling can be interpreted as an indication that the Court wants to have further exploration in lower courts of the basic constitutional question of state power to limit marriage to a man and a woman.  Had it refused the state’s request for delay, that would have at least left the impression that the Court was comfortable allowing same-sex marriages to go forward in the 33 states where they are still banned.

Since the Monday order provided no explanation, it was not clear which of the arguments made by state officials had been convincing to the Justices.  The state had argued, among other things, that U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby’s decision nullifying Utah’s ban had preempted the power of the Supreme Court to be the final arbiter on that question.  The state also had contended that its interest in enforcing its ban would have been undercut by a refusing of a stay.  And it had said that it would be difficult to untangle marriages that had occurred in the meantime, if the ban were ultimately upheld in the courts.

The stay will remain until the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decides whether to uphold or overturn Shelby's ruling.

13A687 Supreme Court Order by Equality Case Files

Developing (refresh for updates)...

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  1. Well, we knew this might be a possibility. I've still got a positive outlook for the end results, so lets not be too disheartened!

    Posted by: Gaiboi | Jan 6, 2014 10:41:36 AM

  2. Huh ?
    Was it Sottomayor ?
    Did she refer to the whole Court and give a stay in the interim ?
    Did she just give a stay pending her further consideration /
    More info needed.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Jan 6, 2014 10:44:36 AM

  3. I'd say this is a good thing because the outcome could make gay marriage legal in all 50 states in one swoop. It sure makes it a fair better solution than the piecemeal of "winning" each state.

    Posted by: Steve | Jan 6, 2014 10:46:05 AM

  4. @ STEVE :
    You could be right. This may refer the issue to the whole Supreme Court.
    Sottomayor would hardly have done that if she didn't have the votes there......I hope !

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Jan 6, 2014 10:47:57 AM

  5. Doesn't sound good on paper but it sounds like a formality pending the lower court's decision which I think has a very good chance of upholding Judge Shelby's. When is that supposed to occur again?

    Posted by: SpaceCadet | Jan 6, 2014 10:49:11 AM

  6. Jack - apparently she did refer the matter to the entire court rather than rule herself (which is her prerogative). And (assuming we win in the long term) that may have been prudent, simply to avoid the spurious charge that "one rogue district judge and one liberal activist Supreme Court justice" brought same-sex marriage to Utah.

    Steve - this stay hasn't really got anything to do with making gay marriage legal in all states. Stay or not, that's only going to happen if the Court takes up one of the challenges to a state ban on SSM, and it could do that with or without taking action on the stay.

    Posted by: Kevin M | Jan 6, 2014 10:49:51 AM

  7. The Utah man who was fasting is presently stuffing his face with Chick-fil-a sandwiches.

    Posted by: crispy | Jan 6, 2014 10:50:01 AM

  8. OK :
    So now we know that the issue will may its weary way through the 10th Circuit of Appeals and may eventually end up with SCOTUS.

    So bring on the Tenth Circuit !

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Jan 6, 2014 10:51:17 AM

  9. What will happen to those who have already married? Especially if it eventually same sex marriage will be banned in Utah?. Rest the marriage to still be valid, such as for prop 8 in 2008? or they will be void?

    Posted by: nn | Jan 6, 2014 10:55:28 AM

  10. sorry for all te typos!

    Posted by: nn | Jan 6, 2014 10:56:05 AM

  11. Keeping my fingers crossed for full equality.

    Posted by: Halal | Jan 6, 2014 10:57:36 AM

  12. I just think it is delusional to actually believe this Supreme Court will find a national right to marriage for something that 32 states forbid. The Court has never gotten that far ahead of the states in any major issue, and Justice Kennedy and even Ginsburg have made it is clearly they don't want to even consider this. Sometimes when you try to force their hands, they end up slamming the door on your claim of a federal right.

    Posted by: Malcolm | Jan 6, 2014 11:04:24 AM

  13. LOL @ Crispy.

    Posted by: Sean Maloney | Jan 6, 2014 11:19:08 AM

  14. They do not want to stick their necks out and be blamed by conservatives for allowing same sex marriage to go ahead in all 50 states. They'll sit back and let the states battle it out.

    Posted by: Jack M | Jan 6, 2014 11:22:42 AM

  15. Malcolm: Really? Brown v. Board?

    Posted by: Tyler | Jan 6, 2014 11:23:46 AM

  16. The conservatives on the SC will not revoke the gay marriages already licensed. To do so would involve an awful lot of wedding gifts being returned, and THAT would be bad for business.

    Posted by: james st. james | Jan 6, 2014 11:27:28 AM

  17. Malcolm, Justice Ginsberg officiated at a same sex wedding at the Supreme Court so I doubt she would have an objection to legalizing it across the country.

    Posted by: homer | Jan 6, 2014 11:34:13 AM

  18. It's not all bad news and Sotomayor did not stay the ruling alone out of Utah, all nine justices came to the same conclusion. Utah will temporarily halt these marriage licenses while the 10th circuit of appeals makes a full court decision on whether to honor the lower court ruling overturning the ban on gay marriage in Utah or to allow the ban to continue. Whatever that decision is will ultimately be appealed to the US supreme court. Do not be alarmed many observes foresaw this type of scenario. If a lower makes a ruling that broad, the state is no going to go without a fight and by that a mean the state of Utah. But keep in mind, if the 10th circuit of appeals rules in favor of allowing marriage equality this will indeed be the final nail in the coffin for gay marriage bans everywhere as the US Constitution will finally federally be interpreted as protecting marriage equality. If this is the case, no gay marriage ban can stand anywhere in the country and new legal precedent will be set. Hope that brings some calm to the room.

    Posted by: D'shaun Guillory | Jan 6, 2014 11:36:30 AM

  19. Tyler, prior to Brown v Board, only 16 states required racial segregation in the school systems.

    I looked up the Loving case too as it's a stronger comparison to gay marriage, and prior to it only 17 states still prohibited interracial marriage.

    So unfortunately, Malcolm is right about this point. With 32 states currently banning same-sex marriage, we don't have the numbers on our side just yet for a sweeping Supreme Court decision. Work still needs to be done at the state levels.

    Posted by: crispy | Jan 6, 2014 11:42:12 AM

  20. At the time of the 1954 BROWN decision, laws in 17 southern and border states (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, and Missouri) and the District of Columbia required that elementary schools be segregated. Four other states—Arizona, Kansas, New Mexico, and Wyoming—had laws permitting segregated schools, but Wyoming had never exercised the option, and the problem was not important in the other three. Although discrimination existed in the other states of the Union, it was not sanctioned by law. Unlike gay marriage today, the majority of states did not have school segregation laws at the time of Brown. Further, the Warren Court of the 1950's was one of the most activist courts in history. It was the most progressive and aggressive court we have ever had. Today's Court is nothing like it. Not even close.

    Posted by: Jake | Jan 6, 2014 11:42:18 AM

  21. I wouldn't read too much into this. One way or the other, this issue is going to the Supreme Court, and its vote on the merits is what counts.

    Posted by: Matt | Jan 6, 2014 11:49:10 AM

  22. I doubt Justice Kennedy is anywhere near ready to find a federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage. He has essentially said so.

    Posted by: Jake | Jan 6, 2014 11:52:44 AM

  23. Whether or not the Equal Protection Clause applies as it relates to sexual identity is still an open question. The prior decision on DOMA only dealt with discriminatory federal policies against individual states. Prop 8 would have settled that question, but the Court dismissed the appeal on standing. And with EDNA making its way around Congress, don't expect this Supreme Court to weigh in until the dust settles.

    Posted by: Yeahyoutoo | Jan 6, 2014 11:59:22 AM

  24. We shall see. But as my Con Law professor says, you will not get the Supreme Court to find that 32 states are violating the law on a major issue, especially when those 32 states' laws are almost all the result of direct popular votes. It would be an unprecedented ruling against the laws of 2/3 of the states, with a backlash that would dwarf the outrage over Roe. You can bet on that.

    Posted by: Javier | Jan 6, 2014 11:59:59 AM

  25. I meant "violating the US Constitution"

    Posted by: Javier | Jan 6, 2014 12:00:47 PM

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