Judge Sets Oral Arguments for Virginia Marriage Ban Challenge for Thursday

Jim Burroway

January 27th, 2014

After Virginia Attorney General, Mark Herring, announced last week that he believed that Virginia’s state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage violated the U.S. Constitution and that he would not defend it, Federal District Judge Arenda L. Wright asked the parties in a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban whether the court should proceed for oral arguments. The deadline for replies was noon today.

The plaintiffs, who are represented by Ted Olson and David Boies of Prop 8 fame, urged the court to issue its judgement based on the briefs already filed. But the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is defending the ban on behalf of the defendant Norfolk Circuit Court Clerk George Schaefer, have asked for a hearing. The Judge has now issued orders reaffirming that oral arguments will proceed as scheduled.


January 27th, 2014

Rather odd that the anti-equality folks get 2 hrs and the challengers only get one.

Priya Lynn

January 27th, 2014

It just seems absurd to me that a county clerk should have standing to be a defendant in this case as though this ban somehow benefited him in some way and he’d suffer a loss if it was gone – that’s crazy.


January 28th, 2014

He has standing because he is the named defendant. If he wasn’t the proper defendant, the plaintiffs would have to sue someone else to challenge the law. This isn’t an appeal, this is the trial.

Priya Lynn

January 28th, 2014

I would think only the government could be defendent and if the government doesn’t want to defend the law the case would procede with only the plaintiffs presenting their case and there would be a more or less automatic win.

Priya Lynn

January 28th, 2014

Just like if someone sued me and I didn’t show up to the court case or present any sort of defense.


January 29th, 2014

Sometimes the named defendant is the state itself, other times it’s an official. It depends. There are also multiple layers of government that can be brought into the action. In this case, Janet M. Rainey and George E. Schaefer, III, serve as defendants in their official capacities as State Registrar of Vital Records and the Clerk of the Circuit Court for the City of Norfolk. They already had counsel representing their position prior to the attorney general announcing that he would not defend the law. His announcement doesn’t change their status in the lawsuit.

Priya Lynn

January 29th, 2014

It still doesn’t make sense to me. As I see it the only valid defendent in this case is the government itself and if it doesn’t want to defend the law the plaintiffs would more or less win by default.


January 29th, 2014

The clerks are being sued in the official capacity, as agents of the government. The government is not one singular entity. There are multiple offices within the government, even within a single state. The plaintiffs are suing the clerks, not the governor, not not the attorney general, and not the state of Virginia itself.

Priya Lynn

January 29th, 2014

I don’t disagree with you on “what is”, my point is that “what is” isn’t particularly rational from my viewpoint.

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