This is my first time authoring a diary in what has become an ongoing series. As it's my initial outing, I hope you all will be generous in your praise and constructive in your criticisms.
Things are moving quickly and it's very difficult to keep track of all of the different cases (I believe there are more than 70 nationwide). In fact the folks at Wikipedia are having trouble keeping their marriage equality case maps up to date which gives me a perfect excuse not to post one here.
It did turn out to be quite the big week, thanks to Monday morning's widely-anticipated ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on Bostic vs
Rainey Schaefer, a case originally decided in district court in Virginia. While the court has upheld the lower court's ruling striking down the state ban, it has not yet issued a mandate which means the ruling has not yet been stayed but is also not yet in effect.
As a result of Court of Appeals ruling North Carolina's Attorney General (a Democrat) has stated he will not continue to defend that law's marriage equality ban in court. Since there are currently three cases pending in district courts in North Carolina contesting the constitutionality of that state's marriage equality ban, and North Carolina is in the Fourth Circuit, the court has requested the parties file briefs addressing the impact of Bostic vs Schaefer on their cases. Meanwhile in South Carolina (another Fourth Circuit state), that state's Attorney General (a Republican) will continue to defend HIS state's marriage equality ban.
Colorado's Attorney General meanwhile has FINALLY been able to get the state's Supreme Court to enjoin the Boulder County Clerk from continuing to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. The state's marriage equality ban is already likely to fall as a result of the recent Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals rulings striking marriage equality bans in Utah and Oklahoma; in addition there are both federal district court challenges proceeding in Colorado as well as a state district court ruling which found the state's ban to be unconstitutional.
Wyoming is also in the Tenth District; there is currently a state court level challenge to Wyoming's statutory-only marriage equality ban. This week Laramie County District Court Judge Thomas Campbell refused to to stay proceedings in that case and announced he will issue a decision in November either ruling in the case on the spot or else letting it proceed to trial.
There are other pending cases in virtually every state that doesn't already have marriage equality. Six different cases from four states in the Sixth Circuit will be heard at the same time next Wednesday. In one of those cases, Kentucky filed its final brief in Love vs Beshear yesterday. Covering that entire set of cases should be quite the undertaking.
In the Fifth District, the state has filed the initial brief in their appeal of the lower court ruling in DeLeon vs Perry which (no surprise) struck down Texas' marriage equality ban.
One thing I have at last figured out is that since briefs generally include a table of contents, one can get a good sense of what's at stake simply by reading that table of contents. It certainly saves time and (in the case of the states' arguments) lowers the risk of having your blood pressure rise to unacceptable levels or having your eyes roll uncontrollably. The plaintiffs' briefs off course make for enjoyable reading since they tend to be on-point and well-written.
Something was filed in one of two pending marriage equality cases in Arizona this week; I read it earlier in the week but now can't seem to find it. Arizona is in the Ninth District. The Ninth District is diverse in that, although there is marriage equality in four states within the circuit (Washington, Oregon, California and Hawaii) there are also some very intransigent states, including Arizona and Alaska.
It was reported just a while ago (after lunch where I sit in San Francisco) that the plaintiffs in Florida's two state level marriage equality cases are planning to request their cases be combined. State district court judges in two adjoining counties, Monroe and Miami-Dade, recently issued rulings striking Florida's marriage equality ban which the state's Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi immediately appealed.
Finally the Wisconsin Supreme Court yesterday unanimously ruled in Appling vs Walker that that state's domestic partnership regime doesn't violate the state's marriage equality ban, ironically because it offers rights so much more limited than those which come with marriage.
If you're interested, SCOTUSblog's Lyle Denniston has published a piece in Constitution Daily highlighting one of the points of departure between supporters of marriage equality and the states that are continuing to contest lower court decisions. The pertinent question is whether these cases are attempting to assert a new right (the "right to same-sex marriage") as the states contend or whether instead the right in question is nothing other than the right to marry, as our side argues (correctly in my humble opinion).