May 22, 2012
By Scottie Thomaston
Thanks to Kathleen for posting these in Quick Hits
Last week, Nevada’s Governor Sandoval responded to the complaint in Sevcik v. Sandoval, the case that alleges Nevada’s marriage laws relegate same-sex relationships to a lesser status of domestic partnerships while affording almost all the same benefits and responsibilities of marriage and thus violate the Equal Protection Clause. His office responded by filing a motion to dismiss based on a 1971 Supreme Court precedent, Baker v. Nelson.
There are four defendants in the case, and now all of the defendants have responded to the complaint:
There are four defendants in Sevcik v. Sandoval: Gov. Sandoval, the county clerks for two Nevada counties and the clerk-recorder for Carson City, all in their official capacities. Yesterday, Gov. Sandoval responded to the complaint with a motion to dismiss. Today, the remaining three defendants filed their responses to plaintiffs’ complaint.
The responses are:
Carson City Clerk-Recorder Alan Glover’s Joinder in Gov. Sandoval’s motion to dismiss.
Washoe County Clerk Amy Harvey’s answer to plaintiffs’ complaint.
Clark County Clerk Diana Alba’s answer to plaintiffs’ complaint.
The Carson City Clerk-Recorder is simply joining Governor Sandoval’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction because of Baker v. Nelson. The other two responses are more interesting. They are answers to the specific facts and claims in the original complaint which is here.
Washoe County Clerk Any Harvey’s response says in the introduction that:
Preliminarily, however, Ms. Harvey wishes to express that she has no intention to defend the substantive merits of this case and has agreed to be bound by the final decision herein.
The response goes on to say that the plaintiffs can’t seek relief from her, essentially because she has to follow existing law:
Plaintiffs’ Complaint on file herein fails to state a claim against this Defendant upon which relief may be granted, as the county clerk has a ministerial duty to abide by the lawsof the State of Nevada and has no authority to disregard the law.
The Clark County Clerk denies that the court has jurisdiction over the case. Their answer denies many of the points made in the original complaint, such as:
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, enforceable pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983, provides that no state shall deny to any person the equal protection of the laws. The conduct of Defendants and their agents in enforcing Nevada Constitution article 1, § 21, and Nevada Revised Statutes § 122.020, and all other sources of state law that preclude marriage for same-sex couples and restrict them solely to registered domestic partnership, violates Plaintiffs’ right to equal protection of the laws by discriminating impermissibly on the basis of sexual orientation and sex.
And it denies the claims in the paragraph of the complaint that suggest heightened scrutiny should be applied:
Although the denial of equal treatment is invalid under any form of constitutional scrutiny, differential treatment by the government based on Plaintiffs’ sexual orientation warrants at least heightened scrutiny. The government’s differential treatment of Plaintiffs based on their sex also warrants heightened scrutiny.
Since they deny the court has jurisdiction, the answer asks for the case to be dismissed.