10th Circuit Court of Appeals rejects Utah’s motion for stay of marriage equality ruling

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

Steve Benen reports, Appeals court allows Utah marriages to continue:

Late Friday, a federal district court ruled that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. Judge Robert Shelby . . . did not issue a stay with his decision, which meant that on Friday afternoon, marriage equality was the law of the land in Utah – a reality that many same-sex couples were eager to quickly take advantage of.

Over the weekend, state officials sought emergency relief from the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. That didn’t go well.

A federal appeals court on Sunday declined to stop officials in Utah from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples following a judge’s ruling last week that overturned the state’s ban on gay marriage.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert asked for an emergency stay to prevent marriage licenses from being issued to same-sex couples after U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby on Friday ruled the ban unconstitutional.

In this case, state officials basically tried to move things along more quickly – they went to the 10th Circuit over the weekend so they wouldn’t have to wait until this morning to try again with Judge Shelby. The 10th Circuit effectively told the state that there was no actual emergency so there’s no reason to short circuit the normal procedure.

In practical terms, that means marriage equality is still the law of the land in Utah, at least as of this minute, and same-sex unions can continue this morning.

So what’s next? The state will go back to the district court this morning – Shelby scheduled a hearing for 9 a.m. local time – to ask that Friday’s ruling be put on hold while the appeals process continues. Barring a surprise, Shelby seems likely to turn down that request.

At that point, same-sex marriages will continue, while the case goes back to the 10th Circuit.

My guess is the 10th Circuit may not issue a stay order pending appeal, which would render the appeal pretty much moot.

UPDATE: As expected, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby denied the motion for stay. The Salt Lake  Tribune reports, Judge denies Utah AG’s request to halt same-sex marriages:

A federal judge in Utah — who last week issued a controversial ruling allowing same-sex marriages — on Monday denied the state’s request for a stay.

State attorneys had argued before U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby that same-sex couples who marry in Utah would be irreparably harmed if the state’s continuing efforts to overturn the judge’s ruling succeed and those marriages are later invalidated.

In denying the request for a stay, Shelby agreed with an attorney representing three same-sex couples in the lawsuit that challenged Amendment 3, saying the state had only regurgitated the arguments he had already thrown out.

But state attorneys wasted no time in filing a request for a stay — their third such request in two days — with the 10th Circuit Court in Denver.

* * *

Meanwhile, hundreds of same-sex couples resumed obtaining marriage licenses on Monday.

But while some clerk’s offices were issuing hundreds of marriage licenses to same-sex couples, others were not issuing any — indicating they wanted to see how Shelby would rule on the state’s request for a stay.

The Judge explicitly said his ruling allows all people the "fundamental right" of marriage. He said counties who don’t comply are breaking the law.

In Utah County, the clerk’s office was not issuing same-sex marriage licenses even after Shelby ruled, and they turned away at least three couples. Utah County Clerk Bryan E. Thompson told The Salt Lake Tribune he would wait to see how the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled on Shelby’s decision before deciding how to proceed.

Looks like Mr. Thompson may find himself before the judge for contempt of court.

UPDATE: I guessed right! This appeal is pretty much moot. Another court defeat for Utah on gay marriage: The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' rejection of Utah's request for an emergency order to put gay marriage on hold marked yet another legal setback for the state. Utah's last chance to temporarily stop the marriages would be a long-shot request before U.S. Supreme Court.

Interesting how media villagers report a victory for civil rights and equality under law as a "legal setback" for the state. So reporters are pro-discrimination then? No bias in the framing of this reporting, nosiree.

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