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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 8, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 15
Obergefell applies to Puerto Rico, 1st Circuit rules

Court boots rogue judge
Section One
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Obergefell applies to Puerto Rico, 1st Circuit rules

Court boots rogue judge

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell - which legalized Lesbian and Gay marriages - applies to the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on April 7.

In doing so, the appeals court reversed a ruling from a Puerto Rican district court that the island's ban on same-sex marriage remained in effect despite the Supreme Court ruling.

'The district court's ruling errs in so many respects that it is hard to know where to begin,' the 1st Circuit's unsigned opinion stated.

U.S. District Court Judge Juan Pérez-Giménez had ruled in October 2014 that Puerto Rico's ban on same-sex marriage was valid, and he upheld the law again in March this year, after the 1st Circuit sent the case back to him with an order to 'further consider' the matter 'in light of Obergefell.'

The appeals court judges told Pérez-Giménez at that time that they 'agree with the parties ... that the ban is unconstitutional.' Consequently, when the judge upheld the law for a second time, the appeals court was annoyed.

'In ruling that the ban is not unconstitutional because the applicable constitutional right does not apply in Puerto Rico, the district court both misconstrued that right and directly contradicted our mandate,' the 1st Circuit wrote.

The 1st Circuit granted the request from the parties challenging the ban - including both the original plaintiffs and the government of Puerto Rico - asking that the justices issue an order 'requiring the district court to enter judgment in their favor striking down the ban as unconstitutional.'

The appeals court also took the extraordinary step of kicking Pérez-Giménez off the case, ordering that the case 'be assigned randomly by the clerk to a different judge to enter judgment in favor of the Petitioners promptly.'

Pérez-Giménez was appointed to the federal bench by President Jimmy Carter in 1979.

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