Judge Sets Oral Arguments for Virginia Marriage Ban Challenge for Thursday
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.
Virginia Attorney General Says Same Sex Marriage Ban Unconstitutional
January 23rd, 2014
The Washington Post reports that Virginia Attorney General Mark R. Herring will announce today that the state of Virginia will ask a federal court to strike down the state’s ban on marriage equality. Citing “an official close to the attorney general with knowledge about the decision,” the Post reports that Herring’s office will file a supporting brief in Bostic v Raine on behalf of a Norfolk couple who were denied a marriage license. Their case is being represented by Ted Olson and David Boies, the same legal team what successfully overturned California’s Prop 8.
Herring will say that Virginia has been on the “wrong side” of landmark legal battles involving school desegregation, interracial marriage and single-sex education at the Virginia Military Institute, one official said. He will make the case that the commonwealth should be on the “right side of the law and history” in the battle over same-sex marriage.
He has not informed Republicans in Richmond about his plans; an uproar is likely. GOP lawmakers have worried that Herring would change the state’s position — such decisions are up to the attorney general — and have contemplated legislation that would allow them to defend the law in court.
The attorney general thinks that is unnecessary, the official said. The clerks of the circuit court in Norfolk and Prince William County are defendants in the suit, and both are represented by independent counsel.
One county clerk named in the suit has hired a private attorney, while another one will be defended by the Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly the Alliance Defense Fund). Oral arguments for the case are scheduled for January 30.
Who defended may have played a role in OK ruling
January 15th, 2014
As we have seen over and over, when it comes to marriage cases, who has standing may play an important role in the outcome. In the Oklahoma decision handed down yesterday, the case may have also hinged to some extent on who could defend the state’s constitutional amendment.
The case started nine years ago and has gone through a number of procedural hurdles since that time. The first of which may have been unexpectedly important.
In 2004, two lesbian couples filed a complaint against the Oklahoma Governor and the Oklahoma Attorney General seeking that the Federal DOMA law and the Oklahoma Defense of Marriage constitutional amendment be overturned.
The Governor and the Attorney General argued that as the issuer of marriage licenses was the County Clerk and that in Oklahoma the clerks are part of the Judiciary branch of government, the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue them. The court disagreed, but in 2009 the Tenth Circuit bought that argument and the Governor and Attorney General were dismissed.
Along with the state’s legal department.
However, the court allowed the plaintiffs to amend their case to name as defendants the Attorney General of the United States (for the federal DOMA side of the case) and the Tulsa County Court Clerk and the State of Oklahoma. The court then dismissed the State of Oklahoma as a defendant leaving only Eric Holder (for the US) and Sally Howe Smith, the clerk.
In 2011, Holder informed the court that the Justice Department would no longer defend the Federal DOMA case, and the House Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group stepped in. And, if this case is in any way similar to comparable cases, BLAG’s defense was likely nominal.
As the Hollingsworth and Windsor cases were advancing to the Supreme Court, the judge held the case in limbo until SCOTUS was heard. Upon announcement, the BLAG defense filed to have the Federal side of the case found moot and for their participation to be dismissed.
Which left the only counsel defending the amendment those who are described in the ruling as
Smith is represented by the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office and attorneys with an organization known as the “Alliance Defending Freedom.”
So it appears that the county, having found themselves way over their heads in defending the state and federal constitution, calling in the specialists, ADF. And it is true that when it comes to gay issues, the ADF has a truly impressive record. Astonishing, really.
Well, that is, if you look at things from my perspective. The Alliance Defending Freedom (nee Alliance Defense Fund) are losers on a colossal scale. Over and over. State after state. Case after case.
And yet they are trotted out with their tired old disproven defeated arguments to be the best defenders of “tradition” and “children”. For which I am thankful.
SCOTUS to ADF: Go Away
June 30th, 2013
The Alliance Defending Freedom, the Phoenix-based anti-gay legal group that had been supporting ProtectMarriage’s fight to support California’s Proposition 8, had filed an emergency motion yesterday in a last desperate attempt to put a stop to same-sex weddings taking place in California. ADF had complained that the Ninth Circuit had lifted its stay on marriages before the end of the 22-day waiting period during which Prop 8 supporters can still file a separate motion for the Supreme Court to reconsider its position. Justice Anthony Kennedy, who oversees the Ninth Circuit, denied ADF’s emergency motion:
Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy turned down at midday Sunday a request to stop same-sex marriages from occurring in California. Without comment, and without seeking views from the other side, Kennedy rejected a challenge to action by the Ninth Circuit Court on Friday implementing a federal judge’s ruling allowing such marriages.
…Although attorneys for the ballot measure’s sponsors have been creative in finding new ways to try to press the challenge, the brief action by Kennedy on Sunday may have removed the final barrier to the full achievement of marriage rights for gays and lesbians in the nation’s most populous state. …If there was some irony in Justice Kennedy’s action, it was that he was among the four dissenting Justices who would have allowed the measure’s backers to press their defense of the same-sex marriage ban. However, they had been out-voted, five to four.
Prop 8 Supporters Try Desperation Shot
June 29th, 2013
Lawyers for Alliance Defending Freedom (formerly Alliance Defense Fund), which have been found by the U.S. Supreme Court to lack standing to defend California’s Proposition 8 on appeal, is trying one last time to derail marriages in California by filing an emergency motion asking the U.S. Supreme Court to put a stop to those weddings.
“The Ninth Circuit’s June 28, 2013 Order purporting to dissolve the stay…is the latest in a long line of judicial irregularities that have unfairly thwarted Petitioners’ defense of California’s marriage amendment,” the paperwork states. “Failing to correct the appellate court’s actions threatens to undermine the public’s confidence in its legal system.”
Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Austin Nimocks said the Supreme Court’s consideration of the case is not done yet because his clients still have 22 days to ask the justices to reconsider the 5-4 decision announced Wednesday.
Legal experts say that the Supreme Court’s 22 day waiting period is not binding on the Ninth Circuit Court. The ADF filed its motion with Justice Anthony Kennedy, who oversees appeals from the Ninth Circuit. Kennedy dissented from the majority opinion which ruled that ADF lacked standing to appeal the Federal District Court ruling striking down Prop 8.
Update: SCOTUSBlog’s Tom Goldstein says ADF isn’t likely to succeed. He also noticed something rather telling:
But it seems unlikely that the Supreme Court will see the situation as sufficiently urgent to require its intervention now. In perhaps a sign of that understanding, the firm of the proponents’ principal Supreme Court counsel — Cooper & Kirk — did not place its name on the emergency application.
If you want to see what desperation looks like in writing, you can see the ADF’s motion here (PDF: 1.7 MB/76 pages!).