Supreme Court Hub

Sonia Sotomayor Issues Temporary Stay on Kansas Gay Marriage Ruling

SotomayorJustice Sonia Sotomayor has issued a stay on the ruling overturning Kansas gay marriage ban until "further order" by Sotomayor or the full Supreme Court, SCOTUSblog reports

Earlier today, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt had asked  Sotomayor for an emergency stay on Judge Daniel Crabtree's November 4 ruling that was set to go into full effect 5pm tomorrow. 

Sotomayor has asked same-sex couples to issue a response to Kansas' request for a stay pending appeal by 5pm tomorrow. 

Here's Sotomayor's order:

Justice Stephen Breyer Hints at Future SCOTUS Action on Gay Marriage

At an NPR moderated panel on Sunday, Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer signaled that the high court had not yet issued its final say on the issue of gay marriage, Politico reports:

BreyerNPR correspondent Nina Totenberg, moderating a panel featuring Breyer, noted that by not accepting the appeals, the status quo of gay marriage was changing in several states. With many same-sex couples now relying on the changes wrought by lower court rulings, the Supreme Court could face a greater challenge to weigh in on the issue in the future.

But Breyer said that “the status quo there changes, you know, so there are plenty of opportunities.”

He seemed to be referring to opportunities to consider appeals on same-sex marriage.

With last week's Sixth Circuit ruling creating a split among lower courts on the issue of gay marriage, the court may have gotten the "opportunity" needed to finally take up the issue once and for all. 

Breyer is typically seen as a member of the court's liberal wing. 

Same-Sex Couples to Appeal Sixth Circuit Ruling Directly to U.S. Supreme Court


The plaintiffs in the Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Tennessee marriage cases will seek immediate Supreme Court review of yesterday's Sixth Circuit ruling upholding the states' bans on same-sex marriage. 

Speaking to Buzzfeed, Abby Rubenfeld, the lead counsel for the Tennessee plaintiffs, said lawyers from all four state cases were in agreement about sending the issue to the Supreme Court.

“We just had a conference call with the attorneys from all four Sixth Circuit states on the marriage cases. We were all in agreement to apply for certiorari at the supreme court, and not to first seek en banc review in the Sixth Circuit,” she explained. “Given the significance of the issue, the reality that it will end up in the Supreme Court ultimately, and the harms that all of our clients are suffering each day that their marriages are not recognized, we want to get to the Supreme Court sooner rather than later.”

“We hope to file within two weeks, and hopefully sooner, so that we can still be on the docket for this term—which means resolution by june 30, 2015,” she added.

ACLU to Appeal Sixth Circuit Decision to the U.S. Supreme Court

The ACLU has announced its plans to appeal today's anti-equality Sixth Circuit ruling to the Supreme Court.

Said Chase Strangio, staff attorney in the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project [via statement]:

Scotus"This decision is an outlier that's incompatible with the 50 other rulings that uphold fairness for all families, as well as with the Supreme Court's decision to let marriage equality rulings stand in Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia. It is shameful and wrong that John Arthur's death certificate may have to be revised to list him as single and erase his husband's name as his surviving spouse. We believe it's wholly unconstitutional to deny same sex couples and their families access to the rights and respect that all other families receive. We will be filing for Supreme Court review right away and hope that through this deeply disappointing ruling we will be able to bring a uniform rule of equality to the entire country."

Sixth Circuit Lets Gay Marriage Bans Stand in OH, MI, TN, and KY: Legal Analysis, Part 1



Reading the Sixth Circuit's opinion permitting states to ban same-sex marriage is a cognitively dissonant experience: the opinion isn't really about gays, marriage, or gay marriage. It is, as the dissent notes, an "engrossing TED talk" on political philosophy or democracy. It is, in other words, a magician's misdirection.

The Sixth Circuit's conservatives do not want us to realize that what they just did is tear away equal and fundamental rights from real committed, loving couples, many of whom are raising children. Rather, they want us to think that they were hamstrung by their humble roles and the narrow confines of their judicial charges. Well, they can't fool us and they won't fool Justice Kennedy.

In a meandering opinion riddled with rhetorical questions rather than reasoned legal analysis, Judge Sutton (above, middle) argues, essentially, that he cannot affirm the unconstitutionality of bans on same-sex marriage because he is handcuffed by three things: Baker v. Nelson, the limited role of the judiciary and the Constitution, and eons and eons of social tradition. His language suggests, not too convincingly, that he would jump at the chance to allow gays to marry if he were a voter or a legislator. But as a judge, sitting in an intermediate appellate court inferior to the Supreme Court, he can't. He just can't.

Don't let Judge Sutton's rhetoric fool you. Behind the gloss of reasonable-sounding respect for the dignity of gay persons lies the same odious discrimination we have been hearing from the rump of the radical right still apoplectic that two men or two women can marry.

GinsburgThe upshot of this opinion is that it is Justice Ginsburg's trigger for when she thought the Supreme Court might take up a marriage equality case: the Sixth Circuit has just upheld bans on same-sex marriage. Now we are on a track to return to the Supreme Court where we may get a substantive holding on marriage equality. Expect an appeal request to be filed quickly, and expect the Supreme Court to take the case. We may even get a decision in June, on the anniversary of Windsor.

This is the first in a series of columns on the Sixth Circuit's decision; there are just too many pieces to this opinion to cover at once. Stay tuned to Towleroad over the next few days for special in-depth coverage and analysis.

Let's begin with a general summary of Judge Sutton's primary motivating point, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Sixth Circuit Lets Gay Marriage Bans Stand in OH, MI, TN, and KY: Legal Analysis, Part 1" »

Marriage Equality and the Court: What Happened in Puerto Rico?



In a decision that willfully ignored the prevailing wisdom of most of the federal judiciary, a judge in Puerto Rico recently tossed a lawsuit challenging the island's ban on gays marrying. The judge did not expressly uphold the constitutionality of the ban; rather, he granted PR's motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Either way, the case is headed for appeal at the First Circuit Court of Appeals. This case adds a little texture to the Supreme Court's refusal to take seven marriage equality cases, bringing an end to marriage discrimination in much of the country. But do not expect Puerto Rico to derail our forward march.

2_circuitsPuerto Rico is not just an LGBT-friendly locale in the Caribbean; it's also a territory of the United States under the jurisdiction of the First Circuit. That court also includes Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island and, as such, it has not had the opportunity to weigh in on the constitutionality of a state ban on same-sex marriage since Windsor because, like the Second and Third Circuits, all its states are marriage equality states. That is, except for Puerto Rico.

Into this mix walked several Puerto Rican same-sex couples, represented by Lambda Legal, who want to get married and who have been watching from the sidelines as bans topple like dominoes in the states. After they filed their lawsuit, the state's response was to ask the judge to dismiss the lawsuit for, among other things, lack of jurisdiction.

A motion to dismiss is not unusual. In fact, motions to dismiss or motions for summary judgment are two tools used often to decide cases without having to go through the complexities, expense, and uncertainties of a trial. Even this particular argument wasn't rare. But although the motion may not have been unusual, the judge's decision was, at least in a post-Windsor world.

I summarize the court's ruling and explain why the judge was utterly and completely wrong, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Marriage Equality and the Court: What Happened in Puerto Rico?" »


Towleroad - Blogged