SCOTUS stays marriage equality in Virginia

EqualJust as I expected, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a request for stay of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals decision striking down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage.What makes this situation different from the stay granted in the appeal from the state of Utah is that the request did not come from the state of  Virginia, but from a county clerk in Prince William County.

Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog.com reports, Court blocks Virginia same-sex marriage ruling:

Just as it did when a federal trial judge in Utah struck down that state’s ban on same-sex marriage, this afternoon the Supreme Court put on hold a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, which had held that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

Michele McQuigg, the county clerk for Prince William County, Virginia, had asked the Court to step in to stay the Fourth Circuit’s decision, which otherwise would have gone into effect tomorrow.  The application for a stay went to Chief Justice John Roberts, who handles such requests from the geographic area that includes Virginia.  Roberts then referred the application to the full Court; there were no recorded dissents from today’s order.

McQuigg’s request had the support of state officials in Virginia, who have told courts that they believe the ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional but have nonetheless continued to defend it.  Those officials urged the Court earlier this week “to decide the constitutionality of Virginia’s ban as quickly as possible.”  They suggested, and McQuigg agreed, that the Court should convert McQuigg’s stay application into a formal petition for the Court’s review (as opposed to merely a request to block the lower court’s decision).  But the Justices apparently declined to do so:  the order indicates that the Fourth Circuit’s ruling is “stayed pending the timely filing and disposition of a petition for a writ of certiorari.”

The Virginia officials filed their own petition seeking review of the Fourth Circuit’s decision on August 8; a response by the same-sex couples is currently due on September 11.  That is one week after same-sex couples in Utah are scheduled to file their brief in response to a petition by Utah officials seeking review of the Tenth Circuit’s ruling invalidating their state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

In the interim, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments next Tuesday, August 26, in Baskin et al. v. Bogin, 14-2386, 14-2387, 14-2388 (Indiana), and Wolf et al. v. Walker, 14-2526 (Wisconsin).

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments on Monday, September 8, in Sevcik v. Sandoval, 12-17668 (Nevada), Latter v. Otter, 14-35420, 14-35421 (Idaho), and Geiger v. Kitzhaber, 14-35427 (Oregon).

By then the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals may have ruled in one or more of six appeals from four states: DeBoer, et al v. Snyder, et al, Case No. 14-1341 (E.D. Michigan);  Obergefell, et al v. Himes, et al., Case No. 14-3057 (S.D. Ohio) consolidated with Henry, et al. v. Himes, Case No. 14-3464 (S.D. Ohio); Bourke, et al v. Beshear, et al, Case No. 14-5291 (W.D. Kentucky). consolidated with Love, et al. v. Beshear , Case. No. 14-5818 (W.D. Kentucky); Tanco, et al. v. Haslam, Case No. 14-5297 (M.D. Tennessee).

It is likely several of these cases will be scheduled on the calendar for the Court’s Conference in late September or early October.

One response to “SCOTUS stays marriage equality in Virginia

  1. I can’t imagine, with so many different cases on the same subject, going through so many different circuit courts of appeals, the Supremes would uphold bans on same-sex marriage. OTOH, if they do uphold such bans, heeding the cry of Dominionists, it will kick the political tension up several notches.

    Ultimately, laws in the US must stand for actual freedom, not the freedom of bigots to trample on everyone else’s freedoms.