Archive for the 'Marriage Equality' Category
BULLETIN: “This is a brazen political attack on the independence of the judicial branch, of the ‘end run’ variety,” said Debra Erenberg, Justice at Stake Director of State Affairs. “Judges can’t do their jobs when legislators threaten their livelihood for ruling on properly-presented legal cases. The legislative branch needs to respect the unique role of courts in protecting everyone’s rights, regardless of whether it’s politically popular or expedient to do so.”
A bill filed in the South Carolina House Judiciary Committee would automatically remove from the case any judges who recognize or uphold marriages for same-sex couples, according to Gavel to Gavel, a publication of the National Center for State Courts.
“No state or local taxpayer funds or governmental salaries may be paid for an activity that includes the licensing or support of same-sex marriage,” the bill states. It also declares, “No state or local governmental employee officially shall recognize, grant, or enforce a same-sex marriage license.”
The bill goes on to say, “If a judicial officer violates this section, that judicial officer is disqualified from office pursuant to Section 19, Article V of the South Carolina Constitution, 1895.” According to Gavel to Gavel, that provision says, “The General Assembly shall specify the grounds for disqualification of Justices and judges to sit on certain cases. The General Assembly shall also provide for the temporary appointment of men learned in the law to sit as special Justices and judges when the necessity for such appointment shall arise.” Read more
KCUR reports that Brownback won’t offer any of the benefits heterosexual couples receive, including such things as name changes on a driver’s license or employee benefits for gay and lesbian state workers.
“There is still considerable legal ambiguity on the topic of same-sex marriage,” Eileen Hawley, a Brownback spokeswoman, told the radio station. “Once that ambiguity is gone, the governor will direct state agencies to comply with applicable laws.”
Court decisions over the past few weeks have been confusing. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has said the unions are legal, which has many upset about the delay in applying the law.
“It’s clear that they don’t respect what’s coming from the federal courts and they will continue to discriminate and deny gay and lesbian couples their constitutional rights as long as they can,” Tom Witt, executive director of Equality Kansas said.
The Supreme Court issued an order this week allowing marriages for same-sex couples to proceed in Kansas. In response, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) urged Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback to “reject the idea that Kansas must abandon marriage because out of control federal judges say so.”
The nation’s highest court issued its order after a federal judge had struck down a Kansas ban on marriage for same-sex couples, in following an earlier ruling by the Tenth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
According to a NOM press release, the group called on Brownback “to order local clerks to refuse to issue marriage licenses that violate Kansas law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” Read more
The Supreme Court is in the spotlight for both a case it has agreed to hear, a challenge to the federal Affordable Care Act, and involving an issue that it is increasingly like to take up, that of state bans on marriage for same-sex couples.
On Friday the high court agreed to hear a case from Virginia about the health care act and tax subsidies that are central to making it work. At issue, according to the New York Times, is whether these subsidies “are improperly being given in states that have decided not to run the marketplaces for insurance coverage known as exchanges. Under the law, the federal government has stepped in to run exchanges in those states.”
On Thursday, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the right of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee to ban marriage for same-sex couples, effectively clashing with rulings by other circuit courts and, according to the New York Times, “almost certainly sending the issue on a rapid trajectory to the Supreme Court.”
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday struck down state bans from Idaho and Nevada on marriage for same-sex couples.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Ninth Circuit’s ruling — if upheld — would expand from 30 to 35 the number of states where marriage will be permitted for same-sex couples. That’s because it would apply to all the states covered by the Ninth Circuit, and it would invalidate the bans in Alaska, Arizona, and Montana, the newspaper said; action by the Supreme Court earlier this week invalidated bans in five other states (see Gavel Grab). Read moreNo comments
The court’s stance came as a “major surprise,” according to the New York Times, and means that marriages for same-sex couples may go forward in those states. The court’s move “suggests that the justices are not going to intercede in the wave of decisions in favor of same-sex marriage at least until a federal appeals court upholds a state ban,” the newspaper reported.
As a result of the court’s position, the number of states permitting marriage for same-sex couples will grow from 19 to 24. At the same time, the court’s action “puts off a decision about gay marriage nationally,” the Washington Post said. Read moreNo comments
As the U.S. Supreme Court justices launched their new term with a private conference this week, they were the subject of attention on many news media fronts, with the issue of marriage for same-sex couples grabbing perhaps the highest profile.
A New York Times article was headlined, “Justices Embark on Road to a Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage,” and it suggested it is highly like the court will decide the issue one way or another by next June. The court could announce as early as this week which, if any, of several petitions for appeal on the topic it will consider in its new term. On other fronts, there was attention to immediate action by the court, and controversy around some of its justices: Read moreNo comments
Veteran Supreme Court-watcher Lyle Denniston offers that assessment in the Constitution Daily blog. Denniston notes that there is no inevitability to the high court’s settling the constitutional issue that has become the topic of so many lower court rulings lately, but at the same time he examines the factors that could lead up to the high court’s deciding to review one or more of the appeals.No comments
In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals held unconstitutional on Monday Virginia’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples. The panel upheld a lower court ruling (see Gavel Grab).
Two federal appeals courts now have found such state bans unconstitutional since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act in U.S. v. Windsor last year.
“We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable,” said appeals Judge Henry F. Floyd in Monday’s ruling, according to The Washington Post. “However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws. Civil marriage is one of the cornerstones of our way of life.” Read moreNo comments
The increasing politicization of state judicial retention races, when judges seek a new term on an up-or-down vote, has led to judges raising large campaign sums to defend themselves against ouster efforts, Justice at Stake said on Friday. JAS also reported on election fundraising developments in the state.
“In recent years we have seen state judicial retention races become more politicized,” noted Debra Erenberg, director of State Affairs for Justice at Stake, which has been monitoring money and politics in this year’s judicial elections. “As a result, we are seeing judges raising large sums of money to defend themselves against efforts to oust them. That’s what is happening in Tennessee.”
JAS said in a news release that campaigns to retain three targeted justices in Tennessee have purchased at least $107,610 worth of TV airtime and begun airing ads on behalf of the candidates. The justices’ campaigns have reported a fundraising total of $598,261.99 according to state disclosure records.
Meanwhile, the Republican State Leadership Committee, a Washington-based organization, registered with the state elections board on July 10, reinforcing expectations that it plans to launch a campaign aimed at ousting the three justices. Read moreNo comments