December 5, 2012
By Scottie Thomaston
The sponsors of Nevada’s anti-gay marriage amendment, who are also intervenors in Lambda Legal’s lawsuit challenging the ban on equal protection grounds, have petitioned the case, Sevcik v. Sandoval, to the Supreme Court. The petition asks the Court to consider “[w]hether the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause requires Nevada to change its definition of marriage from the union of a man and a woman to the union of two persons.” Notably this is the first marriage equality case to reach the Supreme Court without significant legal standing issues or other considerations that could affect the Justices’ ultimate decision whether or not to hear the case.
Lambda Legal had only appealed the district court’s decision upholding Nevada’s anti-gay marriage ban to the Ninth Circuit Corut of Appeals within the past few days.
The case is Coalition for the Protection of Marriage v. Beverly Sevcik, et al., and is a plea for the Court to hear the case directly from the federal District Court in Reno without waiting for a ruling on the case by the Ninth Circuit Court. The petition and appendix with the District judge’s ruling can be found here. The case has not yet been assigned a docket number.
At this point, it is not clear whether the filing of this new and different challenge will have any effect on the Court’s consideration of ten other pending petitions on same-sex marriage. The Court is scheduled to consider those other petitions at its private Conference on Friday. Unless the Court chooses to take up the Nevada petition, too, it otherwise would not be ready for consideration for several weeks.
I spoke with Tara Borelli, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, who told me that “This is nothing more than a desperate move by our opponents. This case just arrived at the Ninth Circuit (the appeal was docketed yesterday), and there’s no reason for the Supreme Court to weigh in at this stage. Instead we think the Supreme Court will let the case develop in the Ninth Circuit, as is done in the ordinary course.”
This is the eleventh gay rights petition currently up for review at the Supreme Court.
h/t Kathleen for this filing