The Florida Third District Court of Appeal has upheld a lower court judge's decision that the state ban on adoption by gay parents is unconstitutional
The court affirmed Judge Cindy Lederman's careful, well-supported decision, ruling that two little boys, who were abused or neglected by their birth parents but have flourished with their gay foster parents, can stay with them permanently.
After yesterday's awful filibuster, this is a ray of sunshine.
The scholarly opinion was written by Judge Gerald Cope, who is soon retiring from the court after a distinguished career.
It was joined by the two other judges on the panel, including the court's most activist conservative.
Attorney General Bill McCollum, who recently lost the Republican primary for governor, was heavily invested in the case, including payment of an astronomical expert witness fee (taxpayer dollars) to George Rekers. The judge completely discounted Rekers' testimony.
The full opinion is here.
The lawyers for the family did a phenomenal job of creating a court record compelling only one result.
As the opinion notes, the decision is most likely headed to the Florida Supreme Court
Update: thanks for the rec list, y'all. I'm new to this so I hope I'm doing this right.
Several folks have asked about the Florida Supreme Court. The District Court said the case will likely be resolved by the Florida Supreme Court. In general, it's a very moderate court, with several very smart and compassionate members. But the chief justice right now is Charles Canady, formerly a congressman who was one of the leaders of the Clinton impeachment. He only has one vote, though, just like the other justices. I am cautiously optimistic that they will do the right thing.
Here's why. The lawyers for the family put on a real case. The lawyers for the state didn't. If you read the whole thing, all the facts and the stipulation which is an appendix to the opinion, they basically conceded that this is a great family that has saved these little boys. And Judge Lederman crafted a very careful, detailed factual analysis.
Appellate courts are supposed to defer to the factual findings by the trial judge. It would take a really activist conservative court to overturn this decision. There may be a couple of votes on the Florida Supreme Court to do that, but no more than that. And one of the most conservative members of the court has adopted several special needs children himself, so I would make an educated guess that he would be sympathetic to this family.