Posts Tagged As: Obergefell v. Hodges

The White House Tonight (Updated)

Jim Burroway

June 27th, 2015

IMG_2409Update: And by the way, it’s more than just the White House:

https://twitter.com/JuddLegum/status/614618025145311233

 

Jackass Jindal

Jim Burroway

June 26th, 2015

bobby-jindalYeah, I’m losing my reserve. So sue me.

Texas isn’t the only state trying to throw up roadblocks to marriage equality. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal may have a state to run, but more importantly to him he has a presidential campaign going on as well. And nothing is a better invitation to grandstanding than that. The Supreme Court may have spoken, but Jindal says he’s appealing to a lower authority:

“Current state law is still in effect until the courts order us otherwise,” said Mike Reed, Jindal’s spokesman in the governor’s office.

…There is not yet a legal requirement for officials to issue marriage licenses or perform marriages for same-sex couples in Louisiana,” (Attorney General Buddy) Caldwell said in a written statement.

The Jindal administration has said Louisiana’s state government won’t recognize gay marriage until a lower court rules on the issue.  The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has taken up a gay marriage case, but was waiting on the Supreme Court ruling before moving forward with it. The Jindal administration is now delaying gay marriage in Louisiana until this appeals court decision is issued.

So, yeah, this is his name from now on. Attorneys for same-sex couples have already filed a motion seeking enforcement of the Supreme Court’s decision. Jindal was in full campaign mode just moments after the Court’s decision was announced:

The Supreme Court decision today conveniently and not surprisingly follows public opinion polls, and tramples on states’ rights that were once protected by the 10th Amendment of the Constitution.  Marriage between a man and a woman was established by God, and no earthly court can alter that.

This decision will pave the way for an all out assault against the religious freedom rights of Christians who disagree with this decision. This ruling must not be used as pretext by Washington to erode our right to religious liberty.

The government should not force those who have sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage to participate in these ceremonies. That would be a clear violation of America’s long held commitment to religious liberty as protected in the First Amendment.

I will never stop fighting for religious liberty and I hope our leaders in D.C. join me.

 

Obama’s Full Remarks On Same-Sex Marriage

Jim Burroway

June 26th, 2015

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XbKUe6EtxA

God Approves

Jim Burroway

June 26th, 2015

Jim Obergefell: Our Love Is Equal

Jim Burroway

June 26th, 2015

Obama Calls Jim Obergefell

Jim Burroway

June 26th, 2015

The President’s call came right in the middle of Obergefell’s interview with CNN on the steps of the Supreme Court:

Clarence Thomas’s Dissent Is Worse Than Scalia’s

Jim Burroway

June 26th, 2015

In his own quieter way, Justice Clarence Thomas out-scaliad Scalia. Thomas argued that gay couples didn’t have it so bad:

(p9): Whether we define “liberty” as locomotion or freedom from governmental action more broadly, petitioners have in no way been deprived of it.

Petitioners cannot claim, under the most plausible definition of “liberty,” that they have been imprisoned or physically restrained by the States for participating in same-sex relationships. To the contrary, they have beenable to cohabitate and raise their children in peace. They have been able to hold civil marriage ceremonies in States that recognize same-sex marriages and private religiousceremonies in all States. They have been able to travel freely around the country, making their homes where they please. Far from being incarcerated or physically restrained, petitioners have been left alone to order their lives as they see fit.

And even if they had been incarcerated, so what?

(p17): The corollary of that principle (of human dignity) is that human dignitycannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved.Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignitybecause the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignitybecause the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.

He also predicts “ruinous consequences for religious liberty”:

(p14): Aside from undermining the political processes that protect our liberty, the majority’s decision threatens the religious liberty our Nation has long sought to protect.

(p16): Although our Constitution provides some protection against such governmental restrictions on religious practices, the People have long elected to afford broader protections than this Court’s constitutional precedents mandate. Had the majority allowed the definition of marriageto be left to the political process—as the Constitution requires—the People could have considered the religious liberty implications of deviating from the traditional definition as part of their deliberative process. Instead, the majority’s decision short-circuits that process, with potentially ruinous consequences for religious liberty.

Admit it. All You Really Want To Do Is Read Scalia’s Dissent.

Jim Burroway

June 26th, 2015

You know you want to. Where else will you find a Supreme Court decision compared to “the mystical aphorisms of a fortune cookie?” So here it is. But before we dive in, let’s look at Scalia’s classic dissent from Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down sodomy laws nation wide exactly twelve years ago today:

One of the most revealing statements in today’s opinion is the Court’s grim warning that the criminalization of homosexual conduct is “an invitation to subject homosexual persons to discrimination both in the public and in the private spheres.”  Ante, at 14. It is clear from this that the Court has taken sides in the culture war, departing from its role of assuring, as neutral observer, that the democratic rules of engagement are observed. Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive.

Twelve years ago today, Scalia had no compunction against reveling in the blatant bigotry that propped up those laws. Twelve years later, the entire country has changed, with large majorities now supporting same-sex marriage. Scalia hasn’t moved that far, but even he can now no longer write about gay people as he once did:

The substance of today’s decree is not of immense personal importance to me. The law can recognize as marriage whatever sexual attachments and living arrangements it wishes, and can accord them favorable civil consequences, from tax treatment to rights of inheritance. Those civil consequences—and the public approval that conferring the name of marriage evidences—can perhaps have adverse social effects, but no more adverse than the effects of many other controversial laws. So it is not of special importance to me what the law says about marriage.

What’s important to Scalia? He continues, with words that will certainly repeated in NOM’s fundraising emails for weeks to come:

It is of overwhelming importance, however, who it is that rules me. Today’s decree says that my Ruler, and the Ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court. The opinion in these cases is the furthest extension in fact—and the furthest extension one can even imagine—of theCourt’s claimed power to create “liberties” that the Constitution and its Amendments neglect to mention. This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves.

Scalia writes that he believes the proper way to change marriage laws was through the ballot box or the legislatures:

(p1): Until the courts put a stop to it, public debate oversame-sex marriage displayed American democracy at its best. Individuals on both sides of the issue passionately, but respectfully, attempted to persuade their fellow citizens to accept their views. Americans considered the arguments and put the question to a vote. The electorates of 11 States, either directly or through their representatives, chose to expand the traditional definition of marriage. Many more decided not to. Win or lose, advocates for both sides continued pressing their cases, secure in the knowledge that an electoral loss can be negated by a later electoral win. That is exactly how our system of government is supposed to work.

 

(p4, 5): But the Court ends this debate, in an opinion lackingeven a thin veneer of law. Buried beneath the mummeries and straining-to-be-memorable passages of the opinion is a candid and startling assertion: No matter what it was the People ratified, the Fourteenth Amendment protects those rights that the Judiciary, in its “reasoned judgment,” thinks the Fourteenth Amendment ought to protect. …

This is a naked judicial claim to legislative—indeed, super-legislative—power; a claim fundamentally at odds with our system of government. Except as limited by a constitutional prohibition agreed to by the People, the States are free to adopt whatever laws they like, even those that offend the esteemed Justices’ “reasoned judgment.” A system of government that makes the People subordinate to a committee of nine unelected lawyers does not deserve to be called a democracy.

Scalia may not write with the open bigotry he employed twelve years ago, but he nevertheless hasn’t lost his ability to write an entertaining blog post. Scalia describes the decision as a “judicial Putsch” and launches into the kind of mockery that he’s become famous for:

(p7):  They have discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment a “fundamental right” overlooked by every personalive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone elsein the time since. They see what lesser legal minds—minds like Thomas Cooley, John Marshall Harlan, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Learned Hand, Louis Brandeis, William Howard Taft, Benjamin Cardozo, Hugo Black, Felix Frankfurter, Robert Jackson, and Henry Friendly—could not. They are certain that the People ratified the Fourteenth Amendment to bestow on them the power toremove questions from the democratic process when that is called for by their “reasoned judgment.” These Justices know that limiting marriage to one man and one woman is contrary to reason; they know that an institution as old as government itself, and accepted by every nation in history until 15 years ago,21 cannot possibly be supported by anything other than ignorance or bigotry. And they are willing to say that any citizen who does not agree with that, who adheres to what was, until 15 years ago, the unanimous judgment of all generations and all societies,stands against the Constitution.

The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentiousas its content is egotistic. It is one thing for separate concurring or dissenting opinions to contain extravagances, even silly extravagances, of thought and expression; it is something else for the official opinion of the Court to do so.22 

His sneering even extended to footnote 22:

22If, even as the price to be paid for a fifth vote, I ever joined an opinion for the Court that began: “The Constitution promises liberty to allwithin its reach, a liberty that includes certain specific rights that allow persons, within a lawful realm, to define and express their identity,” I would hide my head in a bag. The Supreme Court of theUnited States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning ofJohn Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.

Scalia ends:

Hubris is sometimes defined as o’erweening pride; and pride, we know, goeth before a fall. The Judiciary is the”least dangerous” of the federal branches because it has”neither Force nor Will, but merely judgment; and mustultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm” and the States, “even for the efficacy of its judgments.”26 With each decision of ours that takes from the People a question properly left to them—with each decision that is unabashedly based not on law, but on the “reasoned judgment” of a bare majority of this Court—we move one step closer tobeing reminded of our impotence.

Supreme Court Strike Down Marriage Bans Nationwide

Jim Burroway

June 26th, 2015

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the 5-4 decision striking down bans against marriage equality across the nation. Gay and Lesbian couples now stand as equals before the law with their heterosexual friends and relatives in every respect. In the lead case of Obergefell v. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding marriage bans in four states. From the syllabus:

(p1): Held: The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State.

(p4): …The right of same-sex couples to marry is also derived fromthe Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection. The Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause are connected in a profound way. Rights implicit in liberty and rights secured by equal protection may rest on different precepts and are not always coextensive, yet each may be instructive as to the meaning and reach of the other. This dynamic is reflected in Loving, where the Court invoked both the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause;and in Zablocki v. Redhail, 434 U. S. 374, where the Court invalidated a law barring fathers delinquent on child-support payments frommarrying.

“Traditional marriage” is both timeless and constantly changing, as are attitudes towards gay people. From the majority opinion:

(p6): The ancient origins of marriage confirm its centrality, but it has not stood in isolation from developments in law and society. The history of marriage is one of both continuity and change. That institution—even as confined to opposite-sex relations—has evolved over time. For example, marriage was once viewed as an arrangement by the couple’s parents based on political, religious, and financial concerns; but by the time of the Nation’s founding it was understood to be a voluntary contract between a man and a woman. See N. Cott, Public Vows: A History of Marriage and the Nation 9–17 (2000); S. Coontz, Marriage, A History 15–16 (2005). As the role and status of women changed, the institution further evolved. Under the centuries-old doctrine of coverture, a married man and woman were treated by the State as a single, male-dominated legal entity. See 1 W. Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England 430 (1765). As women gained legal, political, and property rights, and as society began to understand that women have their own equal dignity, the law of coverture was abandoned. See Brief for Historians of Marriage et al. as Amici Curiae 16–19. These and other developments in the institution of marriage overthe past centuries were not mere superficial changes. Rather, they worked deep transformations in its structure, affecting aspects of marriage long viewed by many as essential. See generally N. Cott, Public Vows; S. Coontz, Marriage; H. Hartog, Man & Wife in America: A History (2000).

These new insights have strengthened, not weakened, the institution of marriage. Indeed, changed understandings of marriage are characteristic of a Nation where new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new generations, often through perspectives that begin in pleas or protests and then are considered in the political sphere and the judicial process.

This dynamic can be seen in the Nation’s experiences with the rights of gays and lesbians. Until the mid-20th century, same-sex intimacy long had been condemned as immoral by the state itself in most Western nations, a belief often embodied in the criminal law. For this reason, among others, many persons did not deem homosexuals to have dignity in their own distinct identity. A truthful declaration by same-sex couples of what was in their hearts had to remain unspoken. Even when a greater awareness of the humanity and integrity of homosexual persons came in the period after World War II, the argument that gays and lesbians had a just claim to dignity was in conflict with both law and widespread social conventions. Same-sex intimacy remained a crime in many States. Gays and lesbians were prohibited from most government employment, barred from military service, excluded under immigration laws, targeted by police, and burdened in their rights to associate.

…This Court first gave detailed consideration to the legal status of homosexuals in Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U. S. 186 (1986). There it upheld the constitutionality of aGeorgia law deemed to criminalize certain homosexual acts. Ten years later, in Romer v. Evans, 517 U. S. 620 (1996), the Court invalidated an amendment to Colorado’sConstitution that sought to foreclose any branch or political subdivision of the State from protecting persons against discrimination based on sexual orientation. Then, in 2003, the Court overruled Bowers, holding that lawsmaking same-sex intimacy a crime “demea[n] the lives of homosexual persons.” Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U. S. 558, 575

In discussing the Due Process aspects of the case, Kennedy tackles Scalia’s beloved “original intent” arguments:

The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as welearn its meaning. When new insight reveals discord between the Constitution’s central protections and a received legal stricture, a claim to liberty must be addressed.

Kennedy reaffirmed the court’s finding in Loving v. Virginia, which struck down bans on interracial marriage, that marriage is a fundamental right. He also reaffirmed his eloquent statement in Windsor about the profound meaning marriage has for the children of same-sex marriages:

(p15): Excluding same-sex couples from marriage thus conflicts with a central premise of the right to marry. Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, their children suffer the stigma of knowing theirfamilies are somehow lesser. They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents,relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue herethus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples. See Windsor, supra, at ___ (slip op., at 23).

 

(p17): There is no difference between same- and opposite-sex couples with respect to this principle. Yet by virtue oftheir exclusion from that institution, same-sex couples are denied the constellation of benefits that the States have linked to marriage. This harm results in more than just material burdens. Same-sex couples are consigned to aninstability many opposite-sex couples would deem intolerable in their own lives. As the State itself makes marriageall the more precious by the significance it attaches to it,exclusion from that status has the effect of teaching thatgays and lesbians are unequal in important respects. It demeans gays and lesbians for the State to lock them outof a central institution of the Nation’s society. Same-sex couples, too, may aspire to the transcendent purposes ofmarriage and seek fulfillment in its highest meaning.

The limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples may long have seemed natural and just, but its inconsistency with the central meaning of the fundamental right tomarry is now manifest. With that knowledge must come the recognition that laws excluding same-sex couples fromthe marriage right impose stigma and injury of the kind prohibited by our basic charter.

(p18): The right to marry is fundamental as a matter of history and tradition, but rights come not from ancient sources alone. They rise, too, from a better informed understanding of how constitutional imperatives define a liberty that remains urgent in our own era. Many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based ondecent and honorable religious or philosophical premises,and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here. But when that sincere, personal opposition becomes en- acted law and public policy, the necessary consequence is to put the imprimatur of the State itself on an exclusion that soon demeans or stigmatizes those whose own liberty is then denied. Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sexcouples, and it would disparage their choices and diminishtheir personhood to deny them this right.

Kennedy also gave a nod to some of the fear-mongering among marriage quality opponents, who have falsely claimed that churches will be “forced” to marry same-sex couples:

(p27): Finally, it must be emphasized that religions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to theirlives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons. In turn, those who believe allowing same-sex marriage is proper or indeed essential, whether as a matter of religious conviction or secular belief, may engage those who disagree with their view in an open and searching debate. The Constitution, however, does not permit the State to bar same-sex couples from marriage on thesame terms as accorded to couples of the opposite sex.

He concludes:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they dorespect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

It is so ordered.

I Predict … (With an update)

Jim Burroway

June 25th, 2015

Chief Justice John Roberts: Yes.
Antonin Scalia: No.
Anthony Kennedy: Yes.
Clarence Thomas: No.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg: Yes.
Stephen Breyer: Yes.
Samuel Alito: No.
Sonia Sotomayor: Yes.
Elena Kagan: Yes.

Carson as CarnacThat’s one of my two predictions for how the Supreme Court will rule on Obergefell v. Hodges, the lead lawsuit for a slew of marriage equality cases before the Court. My second prediction is that the ruling will come down tomorrow. (Note: I’m not so sure about tomorrow as I was earlier this morning. See below.) Here’s my thinking:

6-3: Chief Justice Roberts joins the five-person majority. If the Chief Justice is in the majority, then he has the prerogative to write the ruling or assign it to someone else in the majority. If the Chief Justice is not in the majority, then the task falls to the most senior justice in the majority to either write it himself/herself or assign another justice in the majority to write the opinion.

In my mind, this is critical. Roberts didn’t join the majority in Windsor v. US, so Kennedy ended up writing the opinion declaring that the portion of the Defense of Marriage Act which barred the Federal government from recognizing legal same-sex marriages was unconstitutional. It didn’t address the constitutionality of marriage bans, but look what happened anyway: courts all over the country began using Windsor to strike down those marriage bans right and left. Some of those courts took Windsor to mean that heightened scrutiny applies, or at least was allowed. There is the similar potential, depending on how Obergefell is written, for its effects to reach far beyond the question of marriage itself. It may enshrine, eliminate, or clarify the applicability of heightened scrutiny for LGBT people in other cases, as just one example. Or it may have other follow-on effects, depending on how it’s written. If Roberts has an interest in limiting Obergefell’s effects on other cases, then he may well want to keep the majority opinion out of Kennedy’s hands. Otherwise, the Court goes 5-4 and Kennedy gets to write the opinion — or pass it along to one of the even more liberal Justices.

Now of course Roberts may have other reasons for joining the majority. In today’s Obamacare ruling, he apparently did so in order to write an expansive ruling rather than a narrower one. A narrower ruling, for example, might have left Obamacare intact but the interpretation of the contested phrase “established by the states” up to the IRS. That would allow a future Republican President to order the IRS to interpret the clause differently. But Roberts took that possibility out of the hands of future Presidents by ruling that the intent of Congress when it passed Obamacare was for the subsidies to apply to all states. It’s possible that Roberts may want to take the opportunity to ensure Obergefell is similarly expansive, although I haven’t seen anything to suggest that he would be inclined to do this. But even if he doesn’t, if he sees this marriage equality case as one of the defining rulings of the Roberts Court — as were the two Obamacare cases that he wrote the opinions for — then he may well want to take this opportunity to be a part of that legacy.

So that’s how I get to 6-3.

And I get to 6-3 for both questions: whether gay marriage bans are unconstitutional (yes, 6-3) and whether states must recognize same-sex marriages from other states (yes, the same 6-3, although I guess it might be mooted by the first question). I don’t see a split decision here. If the Court rules against the first question while upholding the second, then it really doesn’t solve anything. In fact, chaos will reign because of the decision. By my count, marriage decisions in about 23 states (I could be off here) and Guam would be rolled back, leaving the status of thousands of marriage licenses in limbo and scores more lawsuits in the making. And that means that the Supreme Court would almost certainly have to address this issue all over again. I just don’t see the Court going against the overwhelming majority of Federal judges while inviting more headaches for itself. Besides, to arrive at this kind of a split decision, they’d more or less have to say that at least a portion of Windsor was “wrongly decided.” I just don’t see them borrowing a phrase like that from Lawrence, which struck down sodomy laws nationwide in 2003, to do something like this.

Friday: Why Friday? Well, Obamacare was today, and since the Court tries to keep each decision day limited to one major decision (and whatever relatively minor decisions which happen to be ready), then there’s no way the marriage case was going to happen today. I actually think that if they were going to strike Obamacare down, they probably would have waited until Monday because of the tremendous fallout. But since it was being upheld, it was a pretty safe move for the court to put it up today. But that necessarily meant that Obergefell would get pushed off.

So why tomorrow and not Monday? Well, the Court doesn’t operate in a hermetically-sealed chamber, unaware of what’s going on around it. June 26 has been a very auspicious day for pro-gay rulings: Lawrence on June 26, 2003, and Windsor on June 26, 2013. Also, Pride is this weekend for a huge number of cities around the world. Considering that the court could have just as easily selected Tuesday, June 30 as an extra decision day, June 26 just seems to be the most likely. That way, everybody gets to talk about it over the weekend and the Court can cleanly dispose of the three or four remaining cases on Monday (depending on how many other cases they release tomorrow) and go home for the summer.

Update: There’s a strong argument against a Friday ruling: the Charleston funerals take place tomorrow. I hadn’t thought of that when I wrote this. I suspect that Friday was chosen as a decision day with Obergefell in mind, but now I’m not so sure it’ll happen.

Grounds?. Equal protection? Due Process? Both? Something else? On that question, I’m on much shakier ground. I don’t really have a prediction here. But you have the rest: 6-3, tomorrow (tentatively). What’s yours?

Supreme Court Audio from Today’s Oral Arguments Now Available — Updated With Reactions

Jim Burroway

April 28th, 2015

The Supreme Court has posted audio of today’s marriage oral arguments. The first question investigates whether bans against same-sex marriage violate the Constitution of the United States. You can listen below, or click here to download the file as MP3, Windows Media, or RealAudio.

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The second argument pertains to whether states are obligated under the U.S. Constitution to recognize a same-sex marriage that was lawfully obtained in another state. You can listen below, or click here to download the file.

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UPDATES:

Transcripts for both questions have also been posted at the above links.

Buzzfeed’s resident self-described law dork Chris Geidner summarizes it all this way:

A 5-4 vote in favor of same-sex couples’ marriage rights appears to be the most likely outcome, although Chief Justice John Roberts’ vote shouldn’t be counted out.

But SCOTUSblog’s Kevin Russell weighs whether a compromise ruling might be in the works:

There is some reason to wonder whether the Chief might be angling for a compromise in which the states win the first question (i.e., they do not have to permit same-sex marriages to be performed in their states) but lose the second (i.e., they would have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states). It’s very hard to read the Chief, but he did ask questions in the second argument expressing some skepticism over the fact that states don’t, in fact, deny recognition to any marriage that does not conform with state law, except same-sex marriages. And, as I mentioned, Justice Scalia asked questions suggesting he might think there was a reason based in the text of Article 4 that would justify ruling for the couples on recognition but not the right to marry. So one could imagine a potential compromise that would effectively allow same sex couples to get married in states that allow it, have their marriages recognized elsewhere, but not have the Court issue a decision that has broad implications for other kinds of sexual orientation discrimination.

On the other hand, Justice Kennedy’s near silence in the second argument suggests that he did not think that the second question was likely all that important. The only significant question he asked was something like “if we assume states have a sufficiently strong interest that they do not have to allow same-sex marriages in their own state, doesn’t that necessarily mean the states have a strong enough interest to permit them to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages from other states?”

Robert Barnes and Fred Barbash at the Washington Post wondered about the split-the-baby scenario as well:

If states are forced to recognize same sex marriages performed elsewhere, Roberts suggested, it would be “only a matter of time” before same sex marriage settled in as the national norm. It would effectively allow “one state” or a minority of states, to “set policy for the nation.”

At the same time, the Roberts’ line of questioning suggested he did not view that possibility with great alarm, at least as an alternative to a court decision holding that all states must permit same sex marriages within their borders.

But back to the possibility of striking the bans outright, we’ve often looked at Justice Kennedy as the critical swing vote. But is Chief Justice John Roberts another possible swinger? Greg Stoher and Mark Drajem at Bloomberg found his questioning worth noting:

Chief Justice John Roberts directed the bulk of his questions at same-sex marriage proponents during the argument. Although Roberts voted against gay rights two years ago, marriage advocates hold out hope of winning his vote this time.

“If you prevail here, there will be no more debate,” Roberts told Mary Bonauto, the lead lawyer arguing in favor of same-sex marriage rights. Shutting off debate “can close minds.”

He added, “people feel very differently about something if they have a chance to vote on it.” Roberts also said the “fundamental core of the institution is the opposite-sex relationship.”

The chief justice shifted course later, suggesting he was open to joining an opinion that didn’t focus on sexual orientation and instead struck gay-marriage bans as unconstitutional gender discrimination.

“If Sue loves Joe and Tom loves Joe, Sue can marry him and Tom can’t,” Roberts said. “Why isn’t that a straightforward question of sexual discrimination?”

Ohio Man Challenging Marriage Equality Ban Has Died

Jim Burroway

October 22nd, 2013

Sad news this morning:

John Arthur, who flew to Maryland in July to marry his longtime partner Jim Obergefell, touching off a legal battle to force the state of Ohio to recognize their marriage and those of other same-sex couples, died Tuesday at the age of 48.

Mr. Arthur was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2011, and his terminal illness played a prominent role in the couple’s decision to marry and in the ensuing legal battle. He and Obergefell had been a couple since 1992 but decided to marry after the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 decision striking down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

…Although he was bedridden in the last months of his life, the publicity from his court case gave him a link to the outside world as hundreds of people sent gifts, letters and cards of support. Known throughout his life for a sense of optimism and an equal sense of the absurd, Mr. Arthur saw both in the attention their story garnered. “It’s been a swell of anonymous support,” he said in August. “It’s truly the supporters who are seeking us out to congratulate us and acknowledge us and give us words of support and thanks.”

Soon after they married in July, the Cincinnati couple filed a lawsuit in Federal District Court challenging Ohio’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Judge Timothy Black issued an injunction requiring the state of Ohio to list the couple as married on Arthur’s death certificate.

Federal Judge Orders Recognition of Second Ohio Same-Sex Marriage

Jim Burroway

September 4th, 2013

A U.S. District Judge has ordered that the state of Ohio and local officials to recognize the marriage of a male couple who had married out of state. The case involves William Herbert Ives and David Michener, residents of the Cincinnati suburb of Wyoming Township, who had been together for eighteen years and were raising three children. They had married in Delaware on July 22. Ives died suddenly on August 27. Judge Timothy Black ordered the state to recognize the couple’s marriage on the state’s death certificate:

Black ruled that Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and other state officials are restrained from enforcing Ohio’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriages. He also ruled that Cincinnati officials cannot accept a death certificate for Ives unless it records his status as married and lists Michener as his surviving spouse.

Judge Black also ruled Michener can join the lawsuit filed by John Arthur and James Obergefell, the Cincinnati couple who had flown to Maryland to marry soon after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. Arthur is dying of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Judge Black issued a temporary restraining order requiring the state to list the couple as spouses in the event of Arthur’s death.

Judge grants injunctive relief to Ohio married couple

Timothy Kincaid

July 22nd, 2013

John Arthur and Jim Obergefell married last week in Maryland. It is a marriage that is doomed to be short, as Arthur has ALS and is not expected to live much longer.

Upon returning, they sued in Federal Court to have Ohio, their home state, recognize their marriage. In 2004, voters amended the Ohio Constitution to limit recognition of marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Today Federal Judge Timothy S. Black ordered that the State of Ohio recognize the marriage and list the couple as married on Arthur’s death certificate.

This Court finds that Plaintiffs have established by clear and convincing evidence their entitlement to injunctive relief. Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ motion for a temporary restraining order (Doc. 3) is GRANTED, and a temporary restraining order shall issue by separate order, directing, inter alia, that the local Ohio Registrar of death certificates is hereby ORDERED not to accept for recording a death certificate for John Arthur whichdoes not record his status as “married” and/or does not record James Obergefell as Mr.Arthur’s “surviving spouse” at the time of Mr. Obergefell’s death, which is imminent.

Ohio recognizes heterosexual marriages in other states that it would not allow to be conducted within its borders (first cousins, for example) provided that the marriage was legal where conducted. While this order is not a ruling on the merits of the case, it seems a foregone conclusion that Judge Black will find for Arthur and Obergefell when this case is determined.

Federal Judge Orders Ohio Officials To Recognize Gay Couple’s Marriage

Jim Burroway

July 22nd, 2013

In as stunningly swift development, a Federal Judge has issued a temporary restraining order requiring Ohio state officials to recongize the marriage of John Arthur and Jim Obergefell, who were married two weeks ago in Maryland. Federal District Judge Timothy Black ordered Ohio officials to recognize the Cincinnati couple’s out-of-state marriage just as they recognizing marriges performed in other states even when those marriages cannot be performed in Ohio:

Throughout Ohio’s history, Ohio law has been clear: a marriage solemnized outside of Ohio is valid in Ohio if it is valid where solemnized. Thus, for example,under Ohio law, out-of-state marriages between first cousins are recognized by Ohio,even though Ohio law does not authorize marriages between first cousins. Likewise,under Ohio law, out of state marriages of minors are recognized by Ohio, even thoughOhio law does not authorize marriages of minors.

How then can Ohio, especially given the historical status of Ohio law, single outsame sex marriages as ones it will not recognize? The short answer is that Ohio cannot … at least not under the circumstances here.

By treating lawful same sex marriages differently than it treats lawful opposite sexmarriages (e.g., marriages of first cousins and marriages of minors), Ohio law, as applied to these Plaintiffs, likely violates the United States Constitution which guarantees that”No State shall make or enforce any law which shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws.

The end result here and now is that the local Ohio Registrar of death certificates is hereby ORDERED not to accept for recording a death certificate for John Arthur that does not record Mr. Arthur’s status at death as ‘married’ and James Obergefell as his ‘surviving spouse,'”

Judge Black noted that when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, it left in place Section 2, which allows states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, but:

…the issue whether States canrefuse to recognize out-of-state same sex marriages is now surely headed to the fore.Indeed, just as Justice Scalia predicted in his animated dissent, by virtue of the presentlawsuit, “the state-law shoe” has now dropped in Ohio.

John Arthur is bedridden with ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, a progressive neurological disease which robs patients with the ability to walk, move, and eventually breath. When the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, Arthur and Obergefell, partners of 20 years, used donations from friends and relatives to charter a special medical transport plane and fly to Maryland two weeks ago, accompanied by a nurse, two pilots trained in emergency medicine, and Arthur’s aunt, who had been ordained specifically to perform the wedding. They married on the tarmac at an airport in Baltimore and immediately returned to their home in Cincinnati. Last Friday, the couple filed a lawsuit in Cincinnati Federal District Court demanding that the State of Ohio recognize their marriage.

Judge Black limited the order to Arthur and Obergefell only, citing the plaintiff’s “strong likelihood of success on the merits” and Arthur’s declining health for the urgency of his order:

…In addition to the alleged denial of Plaintiffs’ constitutional rights, the Court must also consider the fact that Mr. Arthur is in hospice care and death is imminent. Without a temporary restraining order, the official record of Mr. Arthur’s death, and the last official document recording his existence on earth, will incorrectly classify him as unmarried, despite his legal marriage to Mr. Obergefell. The death certificate will also incorrectly fail to record Mr. Obergefell as the “surviving spouse,” which status he lawfully enjoys. Furthermore, Mr. Arthur wants to be buried in his family plot at Spring Grove Cemetery. He also wants Mr. Obergefell to be buried next to him someday. The family plot directive limits those who may be interred in the plot to descendants and married spouses. Thus, without a temporary restraining order, Mr. Arthur’s burial may be delayed or his remains may have to be exhumed when this case is finally decided.

…Moreover, there is absolutely no evidence that the State of Ohio or its citizens will be harmed by the issuance of an order temporarily restraining the enforcement of these provisions against the Plaintiffs in this case. No one beyond Plaintiffs themselves will beaffected by such a limited order at all. Without an injunction, however, the harm toPlaintiffs is severe.

[via BuzzFeed]

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