Supreme Court Hub




Supreme Court Denies Stay Request in Florida Gay Marriage Case, Marriage Equality Set to Begin January 5

Scotus

In a one page order released Friday afternoon, the Supreme Court of the United States denied Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi's request for an emergency stay on Judge Robert Hinkle's August ruling overturning the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

The order indicates that Justices Scalia and Thomas would have granted the stay request.

Earlier this month, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to extend Judge Hinkle's temporary stay on his ruling. With the Supreme Court now choosing not intervene in Florida, gay couples in the state are expected to be able to wed at the end of the day on January 5.

BondiBondi has released a statement saying:

“Tonight, the United States Supreme Court denied the State’s request for a stay in the case before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. Regardless of the ruling it has always been our goal to have uniformity throughout Florida until the final resolution of the numerous challenges to the voter-approved constitutional amendment on marriage. Nonetheless, the Supreme Court has now spoken, and the stay will end on January 5.”

Chris Johnson with the Washington Blade writes on the importance of SCOTUS denying the stay request:

The refusal from the Supreme Court to stay same-sex marriages in Florida is noteworthy because although justices have denied similar requests to halt same-sex marriages in Alaska, Idaho, South Carolina and Kansas, they’ve never done so before in a state where a federal appeals court has yet to rule on the issue. The decision with regard to Florida could be a sign the Supreme Court is ready to rule in favor of nationwide marriage equality no matter what the federal appeals courts decide in the interim.

Here's the order, via Equality Case Files:


Florida Court Clerks Association Warns Clerks Who Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses May Face Criminal Charges

Florida

Florida’s State Court Clerks Association has begun sending out notices to clerks throughout the state informing them that they may face legal action if they issue marriage licenses to same sex couples this upcoming January.

“Florida’s Court Clerks & Comptrollers’ duty is to act in accordance with Florida law,” warned the association in a statement. “Florida Statutes are unique in regard to prohibiting the issuance of a marriage license to a couple that is not a man and a woman, in that it provides that a Clerk who violates this prohibition is guilty of a criminal act and subject to a fine and/or imprisonment.”

BondiCurrently Florida’s ban on same sex marriage is in a state of legal limbo. Earlier this year U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle found that Florida’s ban was unconstitutional and moved to stay his decision until January 5th of 2015. Pam Bondi, Florida’s Attorney General, unsuccessfully appealed to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to have the stay extended past its current January expiration, and has since requested an extension from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

It’s expected that gay couples throughout Florida will apply for marriage licenses on the 6th of January, but the Court Clerks Association hazards that the details of Hinkle’s repeal of Florida’s ban only applies to a specific clerk explicitly named in the initial lawsuit that led to the ruling.

“When a federal judge declares a law unconstitutional, all public officials should cease enforcing that law. Period,” said Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU in Florida. “Let’s leave the legalistic hypotheticals for the law school classroom and look at the practical reality: Are local officials seriously preparing to arrest and criminally charge Miami-Dade Clerk Harvey Ruvin for enforcing a federal judge’s order? That’s preposterous.”

In related Florida news, the ACLU has filed a response to Bondi's Supreme Court motion, with the ACLU asking the high court to reject Florida's request for further extension of the stay. 

Read the ACLU response below:


Supreme Court to Review Louisiana Case That Upheld State's Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c70bf06a970b-500wi

The Supreme Court of the United States will review a ruling handed down by U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman, who was the first federal judge to rule against marriage equality in the wake of SOCTUS' ruling on DOMA in United States v. Windsor. The New Civil Rights Movement reports:

Today the U.S. Supreme Court issued a notice that states on [the same day that the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals will consider Judge Feldman's ruling], January 9, the [Supreme] Court will consider reviewing Robicheaux v. George. The Court meets several times a year, in highly secretive closed-door meetings, to consider cases to review. 

"We are grateful that the Supreme Court will be considering our case and are hopeful that they will see the importance of taking up this issue sooner rather than later," Derek Penton-Robicheaux told The New Civil Rights Movement this afternoon. "As fate would have it, we will also be in oral arguments before the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that same morning. What exciting way to start the new year."

Court watchers will remember that in October, the Supreme Court met and refused to review any same-sex marriage cases, leading to a flurry of states having to allow same-sex marriage, amid the dropping of several stays. Several states are still embattled in attempts to delay or ward off the inevitable.

The Supreme Court could also consider cases in the 6th Circuit, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, after that Court ruled last month that states can, indeed, ban same-sex marriage, setting up a constitutional crisis.


Gov. Butch Otter Asks SCOTUS to Delay Marriage Consideration Until It Hears from Idaho

Idaho Governor Butch Otter filed an amicus brief today asking the U.S. Supreme Court to delay consideration of same-sex marriage until it hears from Idaho as he believes the case would be the "best vehicle" by which the Court could resolve “the marriage-litigation wave in all respects," the Spokesman-Review reports:

OtterOtter lists several reasons why he thinks Idaho’s case is the “best vehicle” for the whole same-sex marriage issue to be decided. Among them: Idaho’s includes both the question of in-state marriages and recognition of out-of-state marriages; it would test the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ application of a heightened standard of scrutiny for discrimination based on sexual orientation; it brings up religious liberty issues; and Idaho officials, unlike those in many states, have mounted a vigorous defense of their ban on gay marriage.

Otter’s legal brief cites “the enormous societal risks accompanying a genderless-marriage regime,” and says, “Common sense and a wealth of social-science data teach that children do best emotionally, socially, intellectually and economically when reared in an intact home by both biological parents.”

Attorneys Gene Schaerr and Tom Perry, lawyers for Otter, filed the brief in five marriage cases before the Supreme Court challenging rulings by the U.S. Appeals Court for the Sixth Circuit (Idaho is in the Ninth Circuit).

SupremesSCOTUSblog's Lyle Denniston explains:

It was in that form because Idaho has not formally appealed to the Justices, while it awaits the rehearing plea it has pending at the Ninth Circuit.

Adding:

As of now, the Court has five pending cases on the same-sex marriage issue.  Four are petitions challenging a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, upholding marriage bans in four states (Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, Kentucky).  The fifth case is from Louisiana, seeking review of a federal judge’s ruling upholding a ban in that state.

The Louisiana case is now scheduled for the Justices’ first look at the next Conference, on January 9, according to a scheduling note Wednesday on the Court’s electronic docket.  That docket also indicated that the four petitions from the Sixth Circuit are being handled as a group, although they have not yet been distributed to the Justices.  There is one more date on which the cases could be sent to the Justices for consideration on January 9: next Tuesday.

Otter wants the Court to wait for Idaho's appeal before deciding which cases to hear, and then add Idaho's case to the review process.

Read the amicus brief below:

Gov. Otter Supreme Court Amicus Brief by Equality Case Files


Clarence Thomas To Consider Staying Same-Sex Marriage in Florida

ThomasSupreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has accepted a request from Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi to hear arguments on a federal judge's ruling that overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage. The ruling in question comes from Judge Robert Hinkle. Hinkle found that Florida's voter-approved marriage ban violated the U.S. Constitution and declared that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry in the Sunshine State starting January 6. Bondi for her part has appealed that ruling to the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and wants Justice Thomas to stay Judge Hinkle's ruling so that it will not go into effect until the 11th Circuit has a chance to consider the question. Bondi is hanging her hopes on the incongruency that now exists in the wake of the 6th Circuit upholding a state's ban on same-sex marriage, becoming the only circuit court to uphold such a ban. The Sun-Sentinel reports:

[Pam Bondi] pointed out there is a conflict among federal appellate rulings -- the sixth district upheld a state marriage ban while all other federal appeals courts that have heard such cases have overturned these bans.

Bondi also claimed the likelihood was the Supreme Court would have to hear this case, and that it would, upon review, "likely reaffirm the States' nearly exclusive authority to define marriage and hold that the Fourteenth Amendment allows states to define marriage as Florida has." [...]

Attorneys seeking same-sex marriage have until 5 p.m Thursday to present their case for why the hold should be lifted.

Thomas is the justice who accepts requests from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Florida, Georgia and Alabama. On December 3, that appellate court refused to delay Hinkle's ruling.

After receiving arguments from all parties involved in the suit, Thomas can either act alone to continue the hold, allow it to be lifted on January 5, or else bring the matter to his colleagues on the Court.

This is not the first time the Supreme Court has been asked to continue such a stay, but it has previously turned down such requests.

However Thomas "has indicated in previous, similar cases that he would have granted a stay," said Elizabeth Schwartz, an attorney involved in same-sex marriage lawsuits in Miami-Dade and Monroe counties that are going through state appellate court.

Thomas has no deadline by which to decide what to do in this case, but in previous instances, the court and individual justices have ruled quickly. 

"I don't think anyone was surprised that [Thomas] asked for more information, and I think it's also likely he'll want to continue this with the full court," Schwartz said. "I do think they'll rule on it possibly on Friday."


Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi Asks Supreme Court to Stay Gay Marriage Ruling

BondiFlorida Attorney General Pam Bondi has filed a motion with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas asking for an emergency stay on Judge Robert Hinkle's August ruling overturning the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

Earlier this month, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to extend Judge Hinkle's temporary stay on his ruling. If the Supreme Court chooses to not intervene in Florida, gay couples will be able to wed at the end of the day on January 5.

Responding to today’s filing, ACLU of Florida LGBT rights attorney Daniel Tilley stated:

“It is unsurprising, given how hard Governor Scott, his appointees, and Attorney General Bondi have fought to keep loving and committed couples from getting married and having their marriages recognized in Florida, that they would keep up this dead-end fight. But with just weeks until the ruling is scheduled to go into effect, it is disappointing.

“Florida families have waited long enough for the end of a ban that a federal court has declared unconstitutional. Since October, the Supreme Court has refused all requests to stay rulings striking down the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage in other states. We are hopeful they will do the same here so that loving couples and their children can get the protections for which they have waited so long.”

Back in August, Bondi pledged to continue defending her state's gay marriage ban, saying she was "just getting started".

Last month, SCOTUS denied an emergency request in South Carolina's gay marriage case, but Justice Thomas stated he would have granted the stay. 

Read Bondi's motion via Equality Case Files:


Trending



Towleroad - Blogged