Roberts Court Could Act This Week on Marriage Equality Request


On Monday, attorneys for the State of Virginia asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay a federal appeals court decision striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and also urged the Court to take up the fundamental question of whether or not states can ban same-sex marriages, “as quickly as possible.” The request is the latest to land before the Roberts Court after a summer filled with federal court decisions striking same-sex marriage bans in states across the country, including in Virginia, Oklahoma, and Utah, making it all but certain the Court will take up the issue of whether or not states can ban marriages between same-sex couples next term.

The request is one of three filed with the Roberts Court requesting that it consider taking up the Virginia case at its September 29 conference, ahead of the formal opening of the Court’s term in October. Late July, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court ruling striking down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriages.

In a separate filing, marriage equality advocates urged the Roberts Court to reject the state’s request but agreed that if the Court decided to grant the stay, it should accept the case for full review promptly. “We will fight these last-ditch desperate attempts to delay the inevitable arrival of the day when same-sex couples can marry in Virginia,” said Jon Davidson, legal director at Lambda Legal, in a statement. “But if the Court grants a stay, we want this issue to be decided as quickly as possible.”

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, said in a court filing that he would support delaying gay marriage in the state and granting the stay because he would prefer the Supreme Court take up the case to immediately decide the core issue of whether or not states can ban marriage equality.

The Virginia case is one of at least two cases the Supreme Court could act on to decide the question of whether or not states can constitutionally restrict marriages to the union of one man and one woman. Attorneys defending marriage equality bans in Utah and Oklahoma have also filed petitions asking the Roberts Court to uphold their respective state bans on marriage equality. Other federal appeals courts, including the Sixth Circuit, are expected to issue rulings on state bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee later this fall. So far only one court, in Tennessee, has ruled against marriage equality; it was a narrow ruling with limited, if any, impact on the state ban challenges currently working their way through the federal courts.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. handles emergency requests from the Fourth Circuit and can either decide Virginia’s request on his own or refer the matter for the entire Court. The Fourth Circuit’s decision is scheduled to take effect August 21, unless the request filed with the Supreme Court is granted.

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  • 51franco

    Anita Bryant, you old witch, we coming for you-

    • Arekushieru

      What’s wrong with being a witch? And, threats, seriously? I don’t care for people like her, myself, but threats against women and slurs against religious minorities are not something I’d like to be associated with. Thanks! :)

      • 51franco

        Aren’t you looking a little too hard for a reason to be offended?
        In writing “coming for you” I meant in a political sense via
        marriage equality.

        • Arekushieru

          Uh, did you not read the rest of my post? Seriously. Did I SAY I was offended? I was merely asking that you not use words that are typically used to marginalize other groups. That’s IT, that’s ALL. Why ELSE would I say that I’m not a fan of Anita Bryant’s, either, then? Hmm?

          And, yes, now I AM offended, which is why my tone is definitely less tolerant-seeming than it was earlier. Because I hate it when people misconstrue my words without any evidence, whatsoever. Kthx.

          • 51franco

            troll alert

          • Arekushieru

            I am a FREQUENT poster on this board. So, NO, I am not a troll. So perhaps you are talking about yourself? Oops? I was MERELY making a suggestion until YOU deliberately misconstrued it, which gave rise to feelings of offense. TBSFS.

          • fiona64

            Meaning that we should watch out for you, apparently. Arekushieru has been posting here for *years.* You’re the FNG, not her.

  • http://gayequalityandthelaw.blogtownhall.com/default.aspx philipcfromnyc

    It nauseates me that there are still people who are opposed to marriage equality in a nation which supposedly prides itself in its commitment to equality before the law and in the eyes of society. We have now won more than 30 consecutive state, federal, and appellate court rulings in favor of gay marriage, without a single loss. Two of the US Courts of Appeals (for the 10th Circuit and the 4th Circuit) have already upheld the decisions of US District Court judges striking down state bans against gay marriage, and it is entirely possible that this matter could end up before the US Supreme Court, where it will fly into the waiting arms of Justice Kennedy, who is likely to write a majority opinion for a deeply divided court, striking down all state bans against gay marriage.

    I am not concerned about gay marriages going the way of abortion access should the US Supreme Court rule in favor of gay marriage, for the simple reason that the states will be commanded to issue marriage licenses to gay couples on equal terms with heterosexual couples. There is no grey zone into which anti-gay zealots could try to place gay marriage. The states will have to abide by a simple command — issue the licenses to any and all gay couples who request them — period. There can be no blood tests for gay couples but not for heterosexual couples. There can be no waiting periods for gay couples but not for heterosexual couples. Equality before the law means equality before the law.

    PHILIP CHANDLER