Filed under: Marriage equality
By Scottie Thomaston
The Supreme Court released four opinions this morning, the last day the Court is scheduled to release opinions until next week. None of the four were the marriage cases (Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Prop 8 case, or United States v. Windsor, the DOMA case.) All four of today’s opinions were from the April sitting – cases argued when the Justices were in Court during the month of April. (A list of argued cases arranged by monthly sittings is here. There are five outstanding cases from March, and at least three of them (the marriage cases plus a case about voting and proof of citizenship) are complicated and opinions could take a while.
Reports on Twitter had suggested that Ted Olson, who had argued for the plaintiffs in the Prop 8 case at the Supreme Court, was at the court room this morning. But none of the more controversial cases (such as the marriage cases, affirmative action, and the Voting Rights Act) were decided today, and in fact, all of today’s decisions were unanimous in the judgment.
The next scheduled day the Court will release opinions is next Monday. As always, there is no way to know how many or which opinions will come out. Since this is the last month of the Term, and since over a dozen opinions are still outstanding (SCOTUSBlog says there is one from October, one from December, four from January, two from February, five from March, and six from April) with four or maybe five days left to release opinions, the frequency should increase in the remaining days.
The marriage cases are still widely expected at the very end of June. It has been speculated that June 27 could be the last day of this Term, meaning any outstanding cases would come out then (or, in the event the opinion isn’t released, get set for reargument next term, but that is unlikely.) As we wrote yesterday, there were ten cases total argued in March, and so far, Justices Kennedy, Alito, Scalia, and Chief Justice Roberts have not written a majority opinion in any of the March cases; the Court likes to distribute writing assignments fairly evenly, but since there are ten cases, a Justice will get two opinions from the March sitting. It’s possible Justice Kennedy could get both opinions in the marriage cases, but any speculation at this point is just speculation. (More on this here.)
The last few days of the term are especially significant in terms of LGBT history, as well. Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down state laws banning same-sex intimacy, was decided on June 26, 2003. And the Stonewall riots, of course, began early in the morning on June 28, 1969. The opinions in the marriage cases could also be released around the time that Pride events will occur.
We will have updates next Monday. Stay tuned.
By Scottie Thomaston
There are very few upcoming days for Supreme Court opinions to be released, so here at EqualityOnTrial, we’re preparing for any breaking news. There are a few updates, and there’s some information and speculation on what might happen. Here are some of today’s stories:
- Tomorrow, Thursday, June 13, the Court is scheduled to release opinions. Court watchers still anticipate that the last day of the Term will be June 27, and that the marriage cases will be released then, but since there’s no way to know what will be released, we will be monitoring the news for each remaining scheduled opinion release day.
- SCOTUSBlog has updated their statistics on this Term after Monday’s opinions came out. In the March sitting, the four moderate Justices have already written an opinion, and Justice Thomas has as well. This leaves Justices Kennedy, Alito, and Scalia, and Chief Justice Roberts without any opinions so far. The Court likes to distribute writing assignments evenly among the Justices for majority opinions. And ten cases were argued in the March sitting so someone probably has two opinions. (To be clear, this isn’t definitive, as the Court can do what it wants and their internal practice doesn’t have to be consistent, but it’s interesting data either way.)
- A report on the upcoming Prop 8 ruling and how it might affect California points out that the state would likely not be able to issue marriage licenses for at least 25 days in the event Prop 8 is struck down or the case is dismissed, or decided on standing. The losing party has a chance to ask the Supreme Court for a rehearing. They are almost always denied, but the process can take that long.
- Also, in terms of when any ruling might go into effect, it depends. A “DIG”, dismissing the case as improvidently granted, would mean that the petition for the Supreme Court to review the case would be dismissed, leaving the Ninth Circuit’s decision in place. The mandate was stayed, so they would need to lift the stay for marriages to go into effect. A ruling on standing could either send the case back to district court, where Judge Walker’s ruling would take effect, or, less likely, wipe out all the decisions, meaning that a ballot initiative may be necessary to overturn Prop 8. Of course, if it’s upheld outright, the rulings below are reversed entirely.
- County clerks are preparing for Prop 8 to be struck down.
- Another look at possible outcomes.
- A look at the gay rights movement’s history.
Two same-sex couples in Farmington, New Mexico, located about three and a half hours northwest of Santa Fe, have joined a lawsuit seeking to bring marriage equality to the state, the Farmington Daily Times reported yesterday. From the Daily Times:
The two local couples, as well as three other same-sex couples in the state, were denied marriage certificates by Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver. The couples are now suing Oliver and the state of New Mexico for the right to marry.
The Farmington couples — A.D. Joplin and Greg Gomez and Monica Leaming and Cecilia Taulbee — joined same-sex couples from Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Jemez Springs in the lawsuit.
The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Albuquerque and Santa Fe couples in March. The Farmington and Jemez Springs couples became plaintiffs in the lawsuit last week.
“It is indicative that LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people are part of our communities in all parts of the state,” said Micah McCoy, the communications director for ACLU-NM, of the three new plaintiffs from northern New Mexico. “They are part of rural communities and urban communities. … They are part of our fabric of life in New Mexico, regardless of location.”
As we wrote late last week, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King announced in a press conference his determination that New Mexico law is unclear as to whether marriage equality is prohibited or allowed in the state, cautioning county clerks against issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and calling for the courts to definitively settle the issue.
The New Mexico Constitution’s definition of marriage is gender neutral, and the state is the only jurisdiction in the country without laws that explicitly recognize or disavow same-sex couples’ unions. However, the marriage license applications that are used by the state’s county clerks do contain blanks for ‘bridge’ and ‘groom,’ leading to Attorney General King’s determination that the state’s policy was inconclusive. Just a few hours after the press conference, Alexander Hanna and Yon Hudson, a gay couple from Santa Fe, filed a lawsuit against Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar for denying them a marriage licenses earlier in the day.
At an event last night held by ACLU-NM, the two Farmington couples spoke about their decision to join the lawsuit. Greg Gomez, who has been with his partner A.D. Joplin for seven years, told the crowd that same-sex couples “need to demand the respect that all married couples receive.” The other couple, Leaming and Taulbee, have been together for 15 years.
Both this lawsuit (known as Griego) and the other complaint filed by Hanna and Hudson will likely sit dormant until the Supreme Court rules on the constitutionality of Prop 8 and DOMA. Depending on the outcome of those cases, the two New Mexico cases will probably resume sometime this summer or fall.
You can read the amended complaint in the Griego case below, via Scribd.