Gavel Grab

Archive for the 'Marriage Equality' Category

One Legal Analyst Examines Alabama Top Judge’s Stand on Marriage

Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court is actually right in saying that state courts don’t have to follow what a federal trial or appeals court says on an issue of law, legal journalist Lyle Denniston writes at the Constitution Daily blog.

“That is one of the oddities of a divided court regime – a federal system and a separate and quite independent state system,” Denniston explains.  Read more

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Top Alabama Judge: Federal Court Ruling Not Binding

Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court said on Wednesday he does not find a federal judge’s ruling, striking down a ban on marriage for same-sex couples as unconstitutional, to be binding on the probate judges who would be asked to issue such marriage licenses.

At the same time, according to the Birmingham News, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a judicial ethics complaint against Chief Justice Moore over his remarks in a letter to Alabama’s governor earlier (see Gavel Grab). The complaint said:

“It is difficult to imagine a more patent and undeniable violation of the prohibition against public comment on ‘impending’ cases than for the sitting Chief Justice to advise an entire class of judges on how they must rule on what likely will be hundreds of license applications to be filed in just two short weeks.” Read more

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Top Alabama Judge Denounces Marriage Equality Ruling

set-5a-color-roy-moore-chief-justice-14825913jpg-df54fe1459ae944bDespite a federal judge’s striking down an Alabama ban on marriage for same-sex couples, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore said in a letter to the state’s governor that he will continue to recognize the ban.

“As Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, I will continue to recognize the Alabama Constitution and the will of the people overwhelmingly expressed in the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment,” he wrote, according to an AL.com article.

“I ask you to continue to uphold and support the Alabama Constitution with respect to marriage, both for the welfare of this state and for our posterity,” the chief justice wrote. “Be advised that I stand with you to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority.” Read more

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Ben Carson Wants to Target Judges Over Marriage Rulings

Carson speaks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, MarylandAnother potential GOP presidential contender is talking about ways to counter court rulings that permit marriage for same-sex couples. Retired surgeon Ben Carson said Congress should “reprimand or remove” those judges responsible for the rulings.

Federal court rulings that strike down state bans on same-sex marriage go against the will of the people, Carson said, according to an Advocate.com article.  “[W]hen judges do not carry out their duties in an appropriate way, our Congress actually has the right to reprimand or remove them,” he said.

Gavel Grab mentioned earlier former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee’s call for the impeachment of a judge who struck down a marriage ban, and his remarks about states’ options if the Supreme Court allows marriages for same-sex couples. Meanwhile Reuters reported, “Obama says hopes Supreme Court rules in favor of gay marriage.”

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Mike Huckabee Angry About ‘Judicial Supremacy’

Huckabee

Huckabee

Is a potential GOP presidential contender suggesting a new kind of nullification if the Supreme Court upholds the constitutionality of marriage for same-sex couples? At The Atlantic, David A. Graham says that’s what Mike Huckabee is doing.

Huckabee is former governor of Arkansas, and he has run for the GOP presidential nomination in the past. Last year, he urged impeachment of an Arkansas judge who had struck down a state ban on marriage for same-sex couples.

The Atlantic piece quotes Huckabee as telling a radio host he is angry about “this notion of judicial supremacy, where if the courts make a decision, I hear governors and even some aspirants to the presidency say well, that’s settled, and it’s the law of the land. No, it isn’t the law of the land. Constitutionally, the courts cannot make a law. They can interpret one. And then the legislature has to create enabling legislation, and the executive has to sign it, and has to enforce it.” Read more

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Another Call to Impeach a Judge Over a Marriage Ruling

Even as the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to take up the issue of marriage for same-sex couples, there is another call for the impeachment of a state judge who made a marriage ruling considered controversial.

Earlier this month Judge Sarah Zabel of the Miami-Dade Circuit Court in Florida responded to a federal court ruling, lifted a ban on marriage for same-sex couples that had been in place temporarily pending appeals, and married two couples. Several days ago, Mat Staver, head of Orlando-based Liberty Counsel, said Judge Zabel is “not objective but should be impeached,” according to the Christian Examiner.

As more court rulings have struck down state bans on marriage for same-sex couples, there have been more impeachment calls (see Gavel Grab). Justice at Stake Executive Director Bert Brandenburg wrote in a USA Today op-ed recently, “Courts deal with important issues, so controversy comes with the black robes. But the use of political impeachment threats over decisions can only pervert justice. This kind of bullying has no place in our political culture.” Read more

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Breaking News: Supreme Court to Rule on Marriage Equality

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in April to decide whether same-sex couples nationwide have a right to marry under the Constitution, the Associated Press reported. The Court has granted all four same-sex marriage petitions, along with four other cases, according to SCOTUSBlog. The order list is here.

Federal and State court rulings have led to 36 states allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. The court said Friday it will review an appellate ruling that banned gay marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee.

“The court’s announcement made it likely that it would resolve one of the great civil rights questions of the age before its current term ends in June,”  The New York Times reported.

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In Texas, Another Court-Stripping Bill to Punish Judges

Texas State FlagA bill introduced in the Texas legislature closely mirrors one introduced in South Carolina earlier (see Gavel Grab) with an intent to punish state judges for handling cases involving marriage for same-sex couples.

The Texas bill provides, according to Gavel to Gavel, “A state or local governmental employee officially may not recognize, grant, or enforce a same-sex marriage license. If an employee violates this subsection, the employee may not continue to receive a salary, pension, or other employee benefit at the expense of the taxpayers of this State.”

After the South Carolina legislation was proposed, Justice at Stake Director of State Affairs Debra Erenberg criticized it as “a brazen political attack on the independence of the judicial branch.” Read more

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Is Supreme Court On Verge of Hearing Gay Marriage Case?

The Supreme Court may be poised to take up a marriage equality case that could strip bans of the 14 remaining states that still uphold gay marriage bans.

The Associated Press reports that with 36 states now allowing the marriage of same-sex couples, the justices may not be so reluctant to decide the issue.

“The justices now face a situation in which just 14 states prohibit such unions, a number that may give comfort to a court that does not like to be too far ahead of the country. “

Read more

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On Marriage Equality, Highest Court Takes Spotlight This Week

US Supreme CourtA national spotlight will be on the U.S. Supreme Court when the justices meet in private on Friday because they could decide whether to take up cases involving state bans on marriage for same-sex couples.

The session marks a “pivotal week” that already saw the first marriages occurring for same-sex couples in Miami, Florida, the Washington Post reported in a front-page article, noting that 36 states and the District of Columbia now allow the marriages. In addition, a federal appeals court will consider on Friday existing bans in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

“It’s an incredible confluence of events,”  Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told the newspaper. Not only has public opinion shifted dramatically, the Post article said, but the marriage equality movement has made big gains; in 2013, when the Read more

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