LISTEN: 9th Circuit hears oral arguments on marriage in Nevada & Idaho

Today, September 8, the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit will hear oral arguments in landmark marriage cases out of three different states - Idaho, Nevada, and Hawaii. Earlier this year in Idaho, a federal judge ruled in favor of marriage for same-sex couples, striking down anti-marriage laws. In Nevada, a ruling issued several months before the United States Supreme Court struck down the core of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, upheld marriage discrimination, and this appeal seeks to correct that harmful ruling. In Hawaii, where same-sex couples have had the freedom to marry since December 2013, a case is on appeal seeking to vacate a lower court ruling against marriage for same-sex couples. 

A ruling is not expected for at least a few weeks but could happen at any time after today's hearing. Three other federal appellate courts - the 10th Circuit, the 4th Circuit, and the 7th Circuit - have already affirmed the freedom to marry in five different states. Defendants in many of these cases have said they will seek review from the United States Supreme Court, and defendants in Oklahoma, Utah, and Virginia have already begun the process of seeking certiorari from the Court. 

The arguments in all of the cases are being heard by a three-judge panel. The panel, randomly assigned last week, is comprised of judges Stephen Reinhardt, Marsha Berzon, and Ronald Gould. Judge Reinhardt, notably, wrote the opinion striking down California's Proposition 8 in 2012, as well as the decision in SmithKline Beecham v. Abbott Labs, the case which earlier this year found that laws discriminating based on sexual orientation must be considered with "heightened scrutiny." That heightened scrutiny distinction sets the 9th Circuit's hearing apart from the other federal appellate court hearings from this year. 

The argument today begins with 30 minutes from each side in Idaho's Latta v. Otter, which struck down Idaho's marriage ban in May. The case was brought by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Boise attorneys Deborah A. Ferguson and Craig Durham. Learn more about the case here. Listen to the audio here:

Next, each side in Nevada's Sevcik v. Sandoval will receive 15 minutes of argument. A decision in this case from 2012 upheld marriage discrimination. The case was brought by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. Learn more about the case here, and listen to the audio:

Finally, each side in Hawaii's Jackson v. Abercrombie will receive 10 minutes of argument. In this case, the argument is focused on the question of whether the appeal should be dismissed and whether the lower court ruling (which upheld marriage discrimination) should be vacated. Same-sex couples in Hawaii have been free to marry since December 2013. Learn more about the case here, and listen to the audio.