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BREAKING: Supreme Court declines to hear Elane Photography case

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

The Supreme Court has declined to review Elane Photography v. Willock, a challenge to New Mexico’s anti-discrimination in public accommodations law, as it applies to a photography business.

The Court had considered the petition over several conferences, and this morning, they officially denied certiorari, meaning that the unanimous New Mexico Supreme Court decision against the business will remain in effect in the state.

The challenge was brought by the photography business, Elane Photography, after they declined to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony (before same-sex marriage was legal in the state) and were cited under the state’s public accommodations law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, among other things.

Arizona’s anti-LGBT bill, recently vetoed by Governor Jan Brewer, was written in response to the New Mexico state supreme court’s decision.

There was no noted dissent.

75 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Corey from Maryland  |  April 7, 2014 at 6:54 am

    Oh my. What is weird loud crushing sound that we keep hearing from coast to coast? It the heads of NOM supporters that keep exploding…

  • 2. bythesea  |  April 7, 2014 at 6:55 am

    Yay!!

  • 3. USA, New Mexico: Supreme &hellip  |  April 7, 2014 at 7:00 am

    […] Equality on Trial reports: […]

  • 4. Scottie Thomaston  |  April 7, 2014 at 7:04 am

    Not gonna lie, I am so relieved about this.

  • 5. karen in kalifornia  |  April 7, 2014 at 7:07 am

    As it should be.

  • 6. paul  |  April 7, 2014 at 7:10 am

    Whew! That is a relief! This one had me concerned, especially all the delays in a decision. I had a feeling it might be heard.

  • 7. Dr. Z  |  April 7, 2014 at 7:35 am

    So far so good. My biggest concern is that they would take the case because SCOTUS knew Hobby Lobby was going to be unfavorable to us; then after Hobby Lobby was decided they would either overturn the verdict in Elaine Photography or else send it back down for reconsideration.

    Don't pop those champaigne corks just yet. This case was brought in state court, not federal court. I wonder if that may have been a factor in declining cert? I'd be very interested in hearing discussion from some of the lawyers here on that point.

    Still it's good news, and a promising sign. A small celebration is in order. :)

  • 8. JayJonson  |  April 7, 2014 at 7:35 am

    I am also relieved. On the one hand, it was very clear that they should not hear this case. Discrimination law is pretty well established, mainly on the basis of state laws passed in the wake of the federal Civil Rights Law of 1964. But, on the other hand, this Court has not been consistent in its response to other laws stemming from the civil rights movement of the 1960s, most notably affirmative action policies and voting rights laws. To say nothing of its historic ambivalence toward gay people. So I am glad that they let the New Mexico ruling stand. It was extraordinarily well written and carefully reasoned.

  • 9. Zack12  |  April 7, 2014 at 7:36 am

    Celebrate for now but let's keep our guard up. You can be sure that if there is even a narrow ruling in Hobby Lobby that they'll be back.
    If nothing else, this very well may push some of those "religious freedom" bills we saw out of the darkness and back into the light again.

  • 10. JimT  |  April 7, 2014 at 7:36 am

    This is good news and also makes me wonder if the Supremes are sending a dog whistle of a future favorable ruling for marriage equality.

    I look forward to your reporting this week, have a safe trip out to Denver.

  • 11. Scottie Thomaston  |  April 7, 2014 at 7:37 am

    Thank you! I leave on Wednesday, can't wait to get out there!

  • 12. Sagesse  |  April 7, 2014 at 7:39 am

    Living to fight another day. I'll take it.

  • 13. Zack12  |  April 7, 2014 at 7:45 am

    Sadly with Alito replacing Sandra Day O'Connor on the court, it has definately taken a far right turn on how gays and lesbians are viewed.
    I still shudder to think of having Bork on the court, none of the gains we've made would have been possible if that had been the case.

  • 14. bythesea  |  April 7, 2014 at 8:02 am

    Me too! I was also worried about what it might bode for other discrimination cases if the granted cert.

  • 15. bythesea  |  April 7, 2014 at 8:03 am

    *they…

  • 16. Bill  |  April 7, 2014 at 8:08 am

    So silly.

    These bigots could totally just say 'we're totally booked that day,' when a same gender couple comes in to request their services, and no one would be any the wiser or suffer indignity.

    What these bigots REALLY wanted is a right to be able to publicly and openly abuse gay people, and the Supreme Court apparently sees right through that.

  • 17. Jae  |  April 7, 2014 at 8:09 am

    Wonder if this signals a Hobby Lobby Loss ?

  • 18. Jake  |  April 7, 2014 at 8:16 am

    No, I suspect it signals a Hobby Lobby win. Why bother with the tiny minnow of Elane Photography when the Giant Fish of uniform blanket discrimination on religionist grounds will take care of all these little pesky squabbles about wedding pics and cakes?

    I believe all further gay issues (most currently marriage, but ENDA and public accommodations language also) are doomed at SCOTUS when the HL ruling is in the Christianists' favor.

  • 19. Keith  |  April 7, 2014 at 8:24 am

    They could (and would be within a legal right to do so) put a sign on their door or a notice on their website saying they oppose same sex marriage but legally would still have to provide the same service(s). But I suspect most bigots running a public business would not do that because of the adverse consequences within the public sector.

  • 20. Rose  |  April 7, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Don't ASSume that this signals a win for Hobby Lobby…….because it DOESN'T imply that AT ALL……we will still have to wait and see but because of other cases that have been ruled on regarding birth control…….I'm NOT certain that this means ANYTHING but what it means!!!

    Not taking the case though could send a message to the florist and cake bakers that what they consider okay is NOT going to go in their favor!!!

  • 21. Terry  |  April 7, 2014 at 8:55 am

    Realistically speaking this is great news, even amongst the Debbie Downers commenting on it in this thread. They somehow think that celebrating is putting your guard down – they're not mutually exclusive.

    Some happy, realistic reactions here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/430247095715/

  • 22. Zack12  |  April 7, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Here's the thing the bigots coming to this site don't get.
    In none of these cases did the couples that sued or reported the business have any knowledge before hand that they would be treated the way they were.
    In the Washington florist case, they had been doing business with the florist for years.
    And for those saying they could go someplace, why should they have to when the law says otherwise?

  • 23. montezuma58  |  April 7, 2014 at 9:17 am

    NOM, ADF, and company should be celebrating this decision. It's an affirmation of states' rights after all. Oh never mind. They only champion states' rights when it leads to the results they want.

  • 24. JakePHX  |  April 7, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Not implying that SCOTUS will rule for HL *because* they didn't take up the Elane case. I am saying the reverse; that is, the win for HL is already in the bag so why clutter up their schedule with this little fish photography thing? The HL win will be about more than gay stuff. Religions and their individual followers in the business world will be able to deny goods and services to any and everybody that their particular noisy flavor of Christianism decides exist in a way counter to their particular beliefs. In their view, the RFRA (the federal one or any one a state decides to pass) trumps any secular federal legislation or court decision. And the SCOTUS will agree for HL 5 – 4, because Kennedy thinks birth control is abortion.

  • 25. Frisky1  |  April 7, 2014 at 9:23 am

    Good thing their heads are empty or someone might get hurt.

  • 26. Ragavendran  |  April 7, 2014 at 9:29 am

    Wish you a good journey too… How do I contact you once you are here, Scottie? I would love to meet you and the team sometime. Thanks.

  • 27. Dr. Z  |  April 7, 2014 at 9:33 am

    Doesn't follow. There are examples in the past where SCOTUS anticipated a major ruling and hung onto cases that would be impacted by it; once the ruling was announced the other cases were then sent back down to the lower courts for reconsideration. If they knew HL was going to affect Elane they wouldn't have denied cert – they would have just sat on Elane and waited. They're under no pressure to act.

  • 28. Dr. Z  |  April 7, 2014 at 10:13 am

    I wish they would. Their business would drop off a cliff.

  • 29. Rose  |  April 7, 2014 at 10:27 am

    I agree…….the Hobby Lobby case ruling would have an impact on the Photographer's case and instead of denying cert….they would have just sat on it and then sent it back to the NMSC…….the fact that they DIDN'T do that means that State Anti-Discrimination policies remain Constitutional…..and I DON'T know what the ruling will be in Hobby Lobby…….I'm hoping it will rule against them, but we will have to wait and see!!

  • 30. JayJonson  |  April 7, 2014 at 10:35 am

    The RFRA is very different from the state versions, which refer not only to government action but also to action by businesses and individuals. Those acts are likely to be declared unconstitutional. In a place like Mississippi, where there are already no protections for gay people, they will make little difference to us, but are likely to spark all sorts of litigation between rival religious groups. I can't wait until a mosque declares that they are free from any noise regulations or a Baptist church doesn't want to comply with any zoning laws or when a Southern Baptist decides his or her business shouldn't be serving Mormons.

  • 31. Rick O.  |  April 7, 2014 at 11:21 am

    THAT depends on WHERE. In the slave states, not so much.

  • 32. JakePHX  |  April 7, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Romer would probably preclude any state interference in municipalities trying to enact pro-gay laws. Government entities may not do that. But the current private employers' rights decisions indicate to me a trend toward upholding religious claims over and above gay-related rights (and anything else) which favors corporate-dom over workers. Thus, I believe private businesses are going to be able to deny gay* people (among others!) access to various goods and services, until, of course, we are granted "heightened scrutiny" status. Then the proof-shoe will be on the other foot; that is, the states or businesses must prove why their particular anti-gay statutes or rules are constitutional rather than we must prove they are NOT.

    So if that is where this is going, I will try to focus on a hypothetical light at the end of this tunnel.

    Thank you for all your comments, though I do not understand the down-vote procedure. Is down-voting the same as "I disagree with you"? or is it because of some offensive expression?

  • 33. Rick O.  |  April 7, 2014 at 11:58 am

    This is, I hope, a win for public civility. I worry these "religious freedom" laws encourage free speech demonstrations like a Westboro funeral picket, Nazis marching in Skokie, or an Occupy Denver anti camping ban protest to spill over into everyday public transactional life. Where there is a decided majority, the minority will suffer for it. New Mexico drew a line, the Supreme Court decided to respect it.
    The Hobby Lobby case raises a question outside the case itself – what is it like working there? Is there any workplace discrimination? Would love to see an article on this.

  • 34. Bruno71  |  April 7, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    Not a lawyer, but I always felt they'd deny cert in this case based on the fact it is a state law adjudicated in a state court, and that they wouldn't want to deal with the question federally before they had to. Also, the ramifications of nullifying New Mexico's public accommodations law could have an effect beyond treatment of LGBT in the public sphere. It could touch on all federal civil rights legislation to date. Therefore, I think they want to let it percolate at the state level and stay out of it until they absolutely have to address it. This is also why I think if they rule in favor of Hobby Lobby, it'll be extremely narrow and explicitly will not touch issues outside of contraception in the employer mandate.

  • 35. Mike in Baltimore  |  April 7, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    'Loving' was against a state law adjudicated in state courts, finally appealed to SCOTUS.

    'Lawrence' was a state law adjudicated in state courts, finally appealed to SCOTUS.

    SCOTUS does NOT not rule when the case begins in state courts. I believe the New Jersey state courts had several stabs at ME, until the governor decided to not appeal the case to SCOTUS.

  • 36. Keith  |  April 7, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Down voting on boards means I disagree.

  • 37. sfbob  |  April 7, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    Different people may mean different things by downvoting. Personally I use it only if a post is borderline offensive (or clearly so) or if the source is a troll or a bigot or is trotting out what is manifestly a right-wing talking point.

    Also I sometimes do it accidentally.

  • 38. StraightDave  |  April 7, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    I also use it exactly the way sfbob does (all of them).
    People can say pretty much whatever they want here, as long as they're not jackasses about it. So I never get bothered by being downvoted. It doesn't mean you necessarily did anything wrong. If you really do something bad, the moderators will pull out their ruler and whack your hiney. Apart from that, nothing to lose sleep over.

  • 39. KarlS  |  April 7, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    Yes, you've admitted what many of us won't. It means precisely that on discussion forums…to a preponderance of participants…even though it shouldn't.

  • 40. sfbob  |  April 7, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    If someone makes a good argument for a view I disagree with, the last thing I'd do is down-rate them. As long as they're civil and at least somewhat sane, there are or at least should be plenty of room for differing views.

    Given the purpose of this site it makes sense that if someone comes on here to insist that marriage equality is just plain wrong (and that we're all bound for hell), they're gonna get piled on. We're an advocacy site, not on open debating forum. On the other hand, while we are, I presume, taking the rightness of our cause as a given, that doesn't mean we're not going to disagree about the best way to achieve it, what specific judicial decisions mean or might portend, or even whether something is bad news or good (or neither). I don't see any point in down-rating a person's whose views on that sort of thing disagree with my own.

  • 41. MichGuy  |  April 7, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    From a legal standpoint, Your argument makes little sense.

    Apparently you don't know how heightened scrutiny applied in law. You do realize that scrutiny level only affects "GOVERNMENT" actions and has absolutely no bearing on actions by a "PRIVATE" person/company????

    Heightened scrutiny does not have any bearing on the legality of a private person or business when they choose to treat groups of persons differently or deny service.

    For example race based classifications can be declared heighted scrutiny but absent a law preventing discrimination by private parties business cans till refuse services to people based off of their race but only the government would be barred from denying services due to the heighted scrutiny protections.

  • 42. ebohlman  |  April 7, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    It's not really all that relevant to marriage equality, but I'm cautiously hoping it bodes for a favorable ruling in Hobby Lobby and Conestoga.

  • 43. ebohlman  |  April 7, 2014 at 5:30 pm

    Actually, Christie decided not to appeal the case to the NJ state Supreme Court (after said court, in its denial of a stay on a lower court ruling, all but ruled on the merits of the entire case).

    I'll reiterate that the NJ case involved precedent that was unique to NJ and is not present in any other marriage equality case.

  • 44. Josh  |  April 7, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    I'm very happy they denied hearing this case!! :)

  • 45. ebohlman  |  April 7, 2014 at 5:43 pm

    Thank you. Protections against discrimination by private actors are statutory, not constitutional. Levels of scrutiny apply only to Equal Protection claims against governmental defendants. While the US Constitution grants Congress the authority to enact such statutory protections (Commerce Clause and all that) nobody's ever tried arguing that it mandates them. Same with state constitutions and state law.

    The only way the Equal Protection clause enters into it is to prohibit states from singling out a particular group and making it more difficult to enact statutory protections for that group than for other groups (Romer, striking down CO's Amendment 2 that specifically prohibited the state and local authorities from passing or enforcing statutory protections for GLB people, but not any other groups).

    It's purely a coincidence that three out of the four classifications that are currently subject to heightened scrutiny (race, national origin, and sex) are also covered by statutory protections. "Legitimacy" of parentage is also subject to heightened scrutiny, but there are no statutory protections based on private-actor discrimination based on it. Disability is covered by multiple statutory protections (ADA, Rehabilitation Act, IDEA, Air Carriers Access Act, Telecommunications Act, just to name a few) but laws affecting disability are subject to "rational basis with bite" (City of Cleburne, similar to Moreno and Romer).

    Our opponents often invoke this confusion to argue that only "suspect classes" can be covered by anti-discrimination statutes, but as my examples show this is a bunch of malarkey.

  • 46. LGBT News USSC Declines t&hellip  |  April 7, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    […] […]

  • 47. Dr. Z  |  April 7, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    True, SCOTUS can and does get involved in appeals from state courts (Bush v Gore being a particularly well known example.)

    I suspect in this instance denial of cert may have stemmed from the fact that the NM SC decision was entirely consistent with other civil rights case law, and that there was no existing conflict between the federal circuits.

  • 48. Dr. Z  |  April 7, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    Even there, I'd bet. Remember that a sizable proportion of the market for the marriage services industry is comprised of young people, who (even in the Deep South) are favorable to ME. And who wants to do business with a photographer/caterer/florist who has signficant likelihood of provoking SOMEONE at the celebration?

    "This is supposed to be a happy occasion!"

  • 49. Dr. Z  |  April 7, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    Agreed. Sometimes someone will make a point I disagree with, or maybe is expressing an unpopular but perfectly admissible argument, or is just the bearer of bad news – and gets downvoted. I will often upvote them when I think the downvoting is unfair.

    Mind you – when the author is an idiot or a bigot, that's an entirely different matter.

  • 50. JakePHX  |  April 7, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    Okay, thank you all for your clarifications and downvotes and since I have been judged too stoopid to post here I will no longer do so. I wish you all well in your endeavors.

  • 51. Christian  |  April 7, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    Considering Sandra Day O'Connor was on the 'Bowers' court, which bade the states choose whether or not gays and lesbians are indeed worthy of being humans and treated even marginally as such or send them to prison or asylums as criminal psychopaths, it's hard to imagine that Alito made the court go further right on lgbt civil rights.

    If someone like Bork had been added then the court would be further right!

  • 52. StraightDave  |  April 7, 2014 at 9:52 pm

    Bowers was a quarter century ago. That's basically forever.
    I believe O'Connor was in the majority in Bowers, but later changed her mind and took the new majority's side in Lawrence. I dare say, in 2003, that's still a fair sight ahead of where Alito is even today. They're not remotely comparable as justices.

  • 53. Jack  |  April 7, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    People on here down vote because they don't like what they read. They assume all gays agree to everything this site says and does

  • 54. Christian  |  April 7, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    Debatable, but considering she concurred in Lawrence in equal protection but against the due process grounds in sprite of the fact "sodomy" is analogous to heterosexual sex kinda dilutes the argument that she is more left than Alito.

    On gay issues at least, I would respectfully disagree and say that they are at least partly similar.

  • 55. Christian  |  April 7, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    *in spite

  • 56. bayareajohn  |  April 7, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    While I generally agree that on nearly every site and service, downvoting means you didn't like or agree (and I'm so very OK with that!)…. your statement that people "assume all gays agree to everything this site says and does" is nonsense and a non-squitor. Each of us has an opinion, and some choose to express their opinion with the THUMBS. We use the tools we have, and anyone who says they know how it is "supposed to be" is only fooling themselves.

    To anguish or argue over how many thumbs you "earn" is foolish. Sharing what you think isn't a popularity contest – and this isn't a pep rally.

    Sure, a lot of thumbs up can make you feel appreciated, yes. A lot of downs makes me consider whether I expressed my position poorly (misunderstood), or if it's a real disagreement, or that the tone just got ugly, or even that the trolls arrived. I would be lying if I didn't admit to preferring ups to downs, and when strongly downvoted, it can shape my future posts. Like a growl that lets me know a bit about how I'm being received.

    I strongly discourage anyone from taking votes as a public measure of their worth or intelligence, or of whether their argument has merit. It's just the wind, a murmur in the crowd.

  • 57. Mike in Baltimore  |  April 7, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    And Christie decided NOT to appeal that denial of a stay to SCOTUS.

    Precedent or not, it was up to Christie to decide whether to appeal the NJ SC decision. Fortunately (for him and the GLBT community), he decided to not appeal. Very similar to the lack of stays issued by other state and Federal courts, and those lack of stays being appealed to a Circuit Court and/or to SCOTUS.

  • 58. bayareajohn  |  April 7, 2014 at 11:15 pm

    If you stomp away because of downvotes, why are you posting at all? Did you post to get votes? If your posts express a point you feel needs to be aired, is the message injured or enhanced by a vote count?

    Welcome to the Internet, where if someone judges you to be "stoopid", they will say so and not hide it in a vote.

    All this for a -3? That's nearly a grudging agreement. And I think a good distinction discussion resulted from your comment: Heightened Scrutiny vs Private Acts, protected classes… you ought to be happy for the exploration it seemed you wanted, not angry for not being rewarded with votes.

    If you want votes, tell jokes. Good ones, and not too many.

  • 59. Mike in Baltimore  |  April 7, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Maryland and Delaware (and the District of Columbia) were 'slave states' until the end of 1865, when the 13th Amendment ended ALL slavery. DC, Maryland and Delaware now have ME.

    I really doubt if Elane Photography would be able to run a successful business in either state, and it would be almost a miracle if they would even set up in DC, IMO.

    IF you mean 'slave state' as Deep South, then you might have a point.

  • 60. Mike in Baltimore  |  April 7, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    I used to work with a woman who lived in NoVa. She got 'disgusted' when a mosque was built about 1/2 mile from her home. She complained that if the wind was in the 'right' direction, she could hear the call to prayer. After she retired, she moved to North Carolina, and within two weeks, the county she moved to decided to allow permits for a mosque about 1/4 mile from her 'new' home. She complained that after the mosque opened, unless the wind was blowing hard away from her house, she could hear ALL the calls to prayer.

    I tried to not laugh, but couldn't succeed.

  • 61. Mike in Baltimore  |  April 7, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    Actually, Jack, that is NOT the case.

    Maybe there are 'downvotes' because some people don't like what they read (if that IS the case) because the poster didn't do a good job of explaining their position? Or maybe the poster didn't have to explain much, but the hate and bigotry still comes through loud and clear?

  • 62. Sagesse  |  April 8, 2014 at 3:42 am

    I downvote a post where I seriously disagree with what the poster has to say. I never downvote a post that links to someone else's negative view or article… that's posted for information, not necessarily because the poster agrees with it. I often post negative or contra points of view because I think the group would be interested in what is being said. And I hardly ever notice the votes. Up or down votes are like an unscientific poll, and I certainly wouldn't put a lot of weight on what they mean. If someone disagrees with you and can't be bothered to say why, how does that add to the quality of the discussion.

    Probably more significant, I hardly ever vote. I get posts in email, read them, pro or con, and move on. I ignore trolls, especially the pseudo-lawyers, and hope they will go away.

  • 63. Retired lawyer  |  April 8, 2014 at 5:13 am

    Mike in Baltimore, thanks for passing along this anecdote. I am amazed at the comments about Muslims I hear from people old enough to recall first hand complaints about the building of synagogues in suburban neighborhoods in the 1950s and 1960s.

  • 64. Dr. Z  |  April 8, 2014 at 6:29 am

    She should have been praying harder that the wind blew the other direction.

  • 65. Dr. Z  |  April 8, 2014 at 6:43 am

    Hm, I hadn't thought about it before but has there ever been a case of SCOTUS overturning a stay before a state SC has had a chance to rule on a case? Certainly SCOTUS is the final stop for appeals from state SC decisions but for SCOTUS to wade in and overturn a stay decision in the state courts before the state' SC has even issued its final ruling – seems to me that could raise federalism issues.

  • 66. JayJonson  |  April 8, 2014 at 7:28 am

    I don't know on what grounds Christie could have appealed a state district court ruling to SCOTUS. Presumably, he would have had to exhaust the state appellate courts before asking for SCOTUS review. And after SCOTUS had just struck down DOMA, I can't see what the federal issue would have been or why SCOTUS would be interested in issuing a stay of a decision that the NJ Supreme Court had refused to stay.

  • 67. JayJonson  |  April 8, 2014 at 7:41 am

    Rulings by state supreme courts can be appealed directly to SCOTUS, but I am not sure that a ruling from a state district or intermediate appellate court can be appealed to SCOTUS. It would have to be a very unusual situation for SCOTUS to grant cert to a case that had not exhausted all lower levels of review.

    Bush v. Gore was appealed from the Florida Supreme Court.

    If I recall correctly, Lawrence had also exhausted the Texas appellate courts. In 1999, a three-judge panel of the Texas Fourteenth Court of Appeals found the Texas law unconstitutional, but an en banc review reversed the ruling and upheld the law.

    Lambda Legal then asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest appellate court in Texas for criminal matters, to review the case. When that request was denied after a year of sitting on it, Lambda Legal then filed a writ of cert. with SCOTUS, which was granted.

  • 68. Ragavendran  |  April 8, 2014 at 8:01 am

    Bush v. Gore was also, I think, the case where SCOTUS released their written opinion less than 24 hours after oral argument. Is that a record? I do understand the extraordinary urgency there, but I wish they would also recognize the urgency with marriage equality cases that involve fundamental rights!

  • 69. Mike in Baltimore  |  April 8, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    Christie did not have to decide whether to appeal a state district court decision, but the decision by the state Supreme Court on whether to overrule the state district court on issuing a stay or not. The state (thus Christie) had already appealed to the NJ SC for that decision on the stay. The state of Utah appealed the lack of issuance of a stay to the 10th Circuit, then when turned down, they appealed that lack of issuance of a stay to SCOTUS.

    The NJ SC could have sent the case to a state appeals court instead of issuing a decision to not force a stay. To its credit, the NJ SC (knowing the issue would come right back to them for a decision) decided to conserve court resources, thus did not decide to send the issue to an appeals court, but instead issued a decision that upheld the lack of a stay.

    Yes, effectively, the decision was whether the district court should or should not have issued a stay, but the NJ SC decided that it wasn't going to overrule the state district court in not issuing the stay. Thus the decision that Christie could have appealed was the decision of the NJ SC, thus only very indirectly the state district court decision to not issue a stay.

    Since the state (aka Christie) didn't appeal to SCOTUS, we'll never know if SCOTUS would have given a stay or not. And then, whether the state (aka Christie) would have appealed the actual decision of the district court that 'civil unions' were NOT equal to Marriage in the state of New Jersey.

  • 70. Dr. Z  |  April 8, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    So the question (unanswered for now) is whether SCOTUS is the court of last resort for final decisions of the Supreme Courts of the several states, or the SCOTUS is the court of last resort for procedural motions of the state courts. You could make a strong federalism case that the SCOTUS should stay out of it until the state SC has issued its final ruling, and I suspect that's how SCOTUS would have reacted if Christie would have appealed the NJ SC's denial of a stay to SCOTUS.

    But we'll never know now.

  • 71. Mike in Baltimore  |  April 8, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    "But we'll never know now."

    At least until the next similar case, be it next week or next century.

    In New Jersey, apparently there is a mechanism for 'skipping' the state Appeals Court level of adjudication in certain circumstances at least (and maybe several other states?).

  • 72. Schteve  |  April 12, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    There is nowhere to appeal the denial from the New Jersey Supreme Court. The Superior Court's decision was based entirely on the New Jersey constitution by way of Lewis v. Harris. The New Jersey Supreme Court agreed that the state was likely to lose that same argument on appeal. The United States Supreme Court cannot overrule a determination of the New Jersey Supreme Court on such matters.

  • 73. Schteve  |  April 12, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    She explicitly refused to join the Lawrence majority in overturning Bowers because she still believed that was decided correctly. Her concurrence in Lawrence was in judgement only and for different reasons (equal protection, as the Texas law treated same-sex sodomy differently than different-sex sodomy; such was not the case in Georgia). M

  • 74. saniya  |  May 13, 2014 at 10:43 pm

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  • 75. adam  |  May 14, 2014 at 5:15 am

    Commercial Photography
    I'm happy that I found your blog while searching the internet for ideas and good content. It's very informative and the quality of your posts is excellent.

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