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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 16, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 03
SCOTUS passes on Louisiana marriage case
Section One
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SCOTUS passes on Louisiana marriage case

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer The U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to take up a Louisiana marriage case in which the trial judge bucked the national trend and ruled against equality.

The justices gave no reason for their decision in their January 12 announcement. They have shown no inclination to get involved in ongoing marriage litigation since their ground-breaking 2012 ruling in USA v. Windsor striking down DOMA.

Meanwhile, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in the Louisiana case on January 9, and is expected to rule soon. Observers said two of the three judges on the Fifth Circuit panel seemed to be skeptical of the state's arguments in favor of the marriage ban, and they are expected to overturn the trial judge's decision.

Louisiana state officials have said they will continue to defend their state's law in court, so the case may return to the Supreme Court before long.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman ruled on September 3 that 'Louisiana has a legitimate interest ... whether obsolete in the opinion of some, or not, in the opinion of others ... in linking children to an intact family formed by their two biological parents...'

Therefore, the Louisiana law passed 'rational basis review,' the judge concluded, meaning that it was not based only on bias or animus against Gay and Lesbian couples.

'There is simply no fundamental right, historically or traditionally, to same-sex marriage,' Feldman added.

The plaintiffs appealed to the Fifth Circuit, and also asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case, in order to expedite a decision.

The Supreme Court will also consider taking an appeal of the Sixth Circuit Court's ruling against marriage equality. Marriage cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee are on the list to be considered at the high court's January 16 conference.

The Supreme Court is under no obligation to hear any of these appeals, and they may wish to wait until all the circuit courts have weighed in on the matter before they agree to take a marriage case.

The justices might also decide to send the Sixth Circuit case back to the circuit court for an en banc hearing - a decision by the full appellate court rather than a three-judge panel. The same-sex couples who are plaintiffs before the Sixth Circuit opted not to ask for an en banc hearing, hoping that the Supreme Court would decide their cases.

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