Plaintiff couples agree: It’s time for SCOTUS to consider marriage case
August 29, 2014
This week, plaintiff couples in three different marriage cases filed briefs with the United States Supreme Court replying to writs of certiorari from defendants in the cases. In the briefs, the plaintiffs make the case that it's time for the Supreme Court to consider a marriage case - and that every day where same-sex couples and their families must wait for the freedom to marry is a day where those families are harmed.
After the petitions in all three cases are filed, the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether to take up a case, likely before January 2015. If the Court decides to hear one or more marriage cases, oral arguments will be heard in the spring, with a ruling expected by June 2015. In order to hear a case, four of the Supreme Court justices must agree to grant certiorari.
This week, as they filed the briefs, legal teams and plaintiffs in each of the cases explained why it's more clear than ever that the Supreme Court must rule on marriage.
Peggy Tomsic of the Salt Lake City law firm of Magleby & Greenwood, P.C. explained yesterday in the Kitchen v. Herbert case from Utah, "These couples and many others like them in Utah want nothing more, and nothing less, than to be able to marry the person they love and to have their marriages respected on an equal basis with other married couples in this country. This is one country, and we have only one Constitution. We hope the Supreme Court will review this case and affirm the Tenth Circuit’s ruling that same-sex couples have the same fundamental freedom to marry as others and that the law must treat their families equally.”
Representation for the Kitchen v. Herbert case also includes Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Mary Bonauto of Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and former acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal of the law firm of Hogan Lovells.
The brief in Bostic v. Schaefer, a case from Virginia, reads, "Although the Fourth Circuit’s decision is correct, review is warranted because this case presents a question of exceptional, nationwide importance that is the subject of ongoing litigation in dozens of jurisdictions. Like Virginia’s Marriage Prohibition, each of the same-sex marriage bans being challenged in those jurisdictions prevents tens of thousands of gay and lesbian Americans from exercising their fundamental right to marry the person they love and to enter into ‘the most important relation in life.'"
The Bostic case was originally brought by Shuttleworth, Ruloff, Swainn, Haddad & Morecock, P.C., and joined by the American Foundation for Equal Rights, Lambda Legal, and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Jeffrey L. Fisher of the Stanford Law School, who joined the legal team for the Oklahoma case, Bishop v. Smith, said this week, "The time has come for this court to decide whether state laws denying same-sex couples the right to marry should be discarded into the . . . ash heap of history." The Bishop legal team also includes counsel from Holladay & Chilton PLLC and Joseph T. Thai.
Since last June, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the core of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, 38 rulings have come down in favor of the freedom to marry in state and federal court, including three rulings from federal appellate courts at the 10th and 4th Circuits. Marriage litigation is pending in every state without the freedom to marry, and pro-marriage decisions are pending before federal appellate courts in the 5th, 6th, 7th, 9th, 10th and 11th Circuits.
Freedom to Marry's Litigation Resource tracks nearly 80 marriage cases in the courts.