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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 12 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 37
SCOTUS will look at all marriage cases, decide which ones to hear at September 29 conference
Section One
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SCOTUS will look at all marriage cases, decide which ones to hear at September 29 conference

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The U.S. Supreme Court has listed all pending marriage cases for consideration at its September 29 conference. At that meeting, the first after the justices return from their four-month summer vacation, the court will determine which cases - if any - they will accept for hearings.

The Court will then release an Orders List on October 6 that indicates which - if any - marriage cases it will consider for its 2014-2015 term.

Appeals from five states are pending - Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin. In addition, a ruling is expected soon from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in cases from Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The Ninth Circuit has already heard arguments in cases from Idaho and Nevada. Cases from Texas and Florida are also before appellate courts.

Any or all of these could be added to the Supreme Courts list of potential cases.

The justices are under no obligation to accept appeals. They could accept all, or take some, but not others, or they could reject all the appeals and let lower court decisions stand. They could also put off a decision on which cases to hear until all marriage cases have worked their way through the appeals courts.

Curiously enough, both sides in the same-sex marriage debate want the Supreme Court to rule on the issue. AFER (the American Foundation for Equal Rights), which argued the Prop 8 case before the Supreme Court and now represents same-sex couples in the Virginia case, urged the High Court to take speedy action on the pending appeals.

'Gay and lesbian couples in Virginia should not have to wait another day to enjoy their right to marry,' said AFER Executive Director, Adam Umhoefer.

'The distribution of our case for the Court's consideration brings us one step closer to our mission of marriage equality for all Americans. Our Constitution's guarantee of liberty and equality soon will be realized for all loving and committed couples, no matter what state they reside in.'

Attorneys representing Utah same-sex couples agreed.

'The State of Utah and the plaintiff couples agree that it is important the Supreme Court take this case and settle the constitutional questions at stake, questions that matter so much to the families we represent and to so many others across the country,' attorney Peggy Tomasic said.

'It is time to end the legal bans that keep committed couples from standing up and making the unique pledges of marriage to each other - pledges that would allow their families protection and security everywhere in this country,' GLAD attorney Mary Bonauto added.

All of the national LGBT legal groups are involved in one or more of the pending cases - ACLU, AFER, GLAD, Lambda Legal, and NCLR. In addition, most LGBT rights groups have filed amicus briefs in the cases, laying out their arguments for marriage equality.

Anti-Gay groups have also filed a number of amicus briefs, both with appellate courts and with the Supreme Court.

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