Marriage in the Western states, brought to you by Abbott Labs

Timothy Kincaid

March 11th, 2014

In January, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on a HIV drug pricing dispute between GlaxoSmithKline and Abbott Laboratories. Part of the dispute was over whether a potential juror could be excused because he was gay. Although Abbott insists that they excused him for other reasons, the Ninth Circuit found otherwise and ruled that just as one cannot exclude racial minorities or women from the jury pool, gay people also could not be excluded.

But the more important portion of their ruling had to do with why a gay man could not be excluded. For the first time at the Appeals Court level, it was determined that discrimination based on sexual orientation is subject to heightened scrutiny. This was a game changer.

Although courts have increasing held that gay people are entitled to equality in marriage and other matters, they’ve done so on ‘reasonable basis’ determinations, the lowest level of consideration. It is generally agreed that if laws that segregate by orientation are held to heightened scrutiny, few if any can survive.

In fact, so certain is this conclusion that the Democratic Attorney General and Republican Governor of Nevada decided that they would not even defend their state’s anti-gay marriage ban, citing the Ninth Circuit’s ruling.

However, all of this is subject to the US Supreme Court upholding or striking down the Ninth Circuit’s standard of scrutiny. If they were to hear Abbott Lab’s appeal (or that of AbbVie, the spin-off that is now the legal party in the dispute), they could strike down this decision and deal a rather heavy blow to the community.

But they won’t.

Because they are not going to hear the appeal.

Because Abbott Labs has decided that some things are more important than winning in court. (BuzzFeed)

An AbbVie spokesman, Dirk van Eeden confirmed that the company would not be pursuing further appeals in the case.

“AbbVie recognizes that the implications of the Court’s findings extend far beyond the underlying case. For that reason, we chose not to appeal,” van Eeden told BuzzFeed.

This is a potentially multi-million dollar decision. Frankly, I’m a bit stunned.

They may still appeal another section of the ruling. And perhaps they figured they’d lose anyway so why put out the cost of appeal. Or maybe they didn’t want to alienate customers.

But on the face of it, AbbVie chose to behave like a good citizen and neighbor. And because of that decision, I believe that probably before the end of the summer all area covered by the Ninth Circuit – Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and possible Guam and the Mariana Islands – will have marriage equality.

Hyhybt

March 11th, 2014

A much better reason to like Abbott than that their logo happened to be printed on the cardboard boxes I played with when I was little.

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