marriage equality

  • January 30, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    In the Huffington Post, Jonathan Cohn writes about a letter from Ben Nelson that lawmakers are using to defend the language of the ACA on state exchanges and tax credits. 

    Vivian Ho reports for SF Gate on the arrest of a San Francisco deputy public defender detained outside of court. Jeff Adachi, a public defender and a member of the ACS Bay Area Lawyer Chapter Board of Advisors, speaks against the arrest in the article.

    Garrett Epps argues in The Atlantic that anything but a Supreme Court decision that unequivocally supports marriage equality will risk state-level obstruction.

    In The New York Review of Books, David Cole reflects on Citizens United and urges the Court “to recognize the urgent and legitimate need for robust limits on campaign spending.”

    At The Nation, Nan Aron, William William Yeomans, and Michelle D. Schwartz consider how the Roberts Court has helped the wealthy and left little protection for others.

  • January 12, 2015
    Guest Post

    by Alan B. Morrison, Lerner Family Associate Dean for Public Interest & Public Service, George Washington University Law

    *This piece originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

    On October 6, 2014, the Supreme Court declined to hear seven cases in which federal courts of appeals had found bans on same-sex marriages to be unconstitutional. One month later, a divided court of appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in an opinion written by Judge Jeffrey Sutton, upheld the bans in Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, & Kentucky. All four groups of plaintiffs have asked the Supreme Court to review that decision, and the Court is likely to decide whether to take up those cases at its conference on January 9, 2015. There are a number of legal issues in the case, but the keys to the ruling below are the two reasons Judge Sutton gave to support the ban, which this essay argues are indefensible under whatever degree of scrutiny the Court applies.

    The majority opinion of Circuit Judge Jeffrey Sutton upholding bans in four states on same-sex marriage has an aura of reasonableness to it, but when it comes to offering real reasons to justify the bans, it cannot withstand analysis. According to Sutton, there are two reasons why the bans are constitutional: (1) they encourage procreation in marriage by opposite-sex couples, and (2) they uphold traditional marriage, while allowing for future change.

    There are three undisputed facts that demonstrate conclusively that those reasons cannot sustain the bans: (1) most of the benefits of marriage for opposite-sex couples are unrelated to encouraging procreation; (2) the laws also preclude civil unions or any other arrangement that confers any of the benefits of marriage on same-sex couples; and (3) the Ohio ban was applied to deny the surviving member of a marriage performed out of state the right to include on the death certificate of his husband the indisputable fact that he was "married."

  • January 8, 2015
    Guest Post

    by Steve Sanders, Associate Professor of Law, Maurer School of Law, Indiana University Bloomington.

    * This piece originally appeared on The Huffington Post.

    The Supreme Court has been reluctant to jump into the question of same-sex marriage, preferring to let the issue percolate through state-by-state litigation in the lower federal courts.  But the time has come for the justices to come out of hiding.  The denial of marriage equality is a national problem, not a state-level problem, and it requires a national resolution that only our nation’s constitutional court can provide.

    At the moment, 35 states allow marriage equality, while 15 forbid it.  The anti-equality states not only refuse to allow same-sex marriages to be licensed and celebrated; 14 of them also refuse to recognize marriages from sister states where such unions are perfectly legal.  Petitions from cases in four of those states – Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee – will be considered by the justices at their next private conference this coming Friday.

    One reason marriage equality is a national issue is that our current patchwork of marriage laws imposes unreasonable, indeed absurd, burdens on same-sex couples’ security in their marriages and their freedom to move from state to state.  A married gay couple from a pro-equality state can relocate for job, education or family reasons to an anti-equality state – as long as they’re willing to give up their marriage, and perhaps even their property and parental rights.  A rational legal regime cannot tolerate this state of affairs.

    In a 2012 article in the Michigan Law Review, I first proposed that the Constitution provides not only a right to get married, but a right to remain married.  Multiple federal court decisionsincluding one from the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appealsinvolving Utah’s marriage laws, have since endorsed this principle.  There is also an argument to be made that denial of interstate marriage recognition offends the Constitution's Full Faith and Credit Clause.

  • January 5, 2015

    by Caroline Cox

    In The Atlantic, James Fallows provides a profile of the late Mario Cuomo in which he calls the former New York Governor “the most accomplished and engrossing public thinker” of the recent generation’s politicians.

    Steven Sanders argues in the Huffington Post that the Supreme Court should take up a marriage equality case.

    In The Boston Globe, Jessica Meyers reports on an upcoming Supreme Court case about a Massachusetts panhandling law that considers how to balance free speech with public safety.

    Hayato Watanable argues at The Hill that it is time to have an Asian-Pacific American on the Supreme Court.

    Steven Mazie at The Economist’s Democracy in America blog discusses a North Carolina abortion law that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit recently struck down.  

    At the blog for the Brennan Center for Justice, Lauren-Brooke Eisen considers whether there are criminal justice reforms upcoming in 2015.

  • November 26, 2014

    by Paul Guequierre

    With Thanksgiving upon us, two judges in the South gave us one more reason to be thankful --advancement for equality. Just yesterday, federal judges in Arkansas and Mississippi ruled the states’ respective marriage bans unconstitutional.

    In Arkansas, the ruling, which is on hold pending appeal, is the second court ruling to find the state’s ban to be unconstitutional. The first ruling came from a state court judge in May in a case that was heard on appeal before the Arkansas Supreme Court this past week.

    Hours after the victory in Arkansas, U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves ruled Mississippi’s ban on same-sex couples’ marriages is also unconstitutional, writing, “Gay and lesbian persons are full citizens that share the same rights as other citizens, including the right to marry.”

    Unfortunately he put the decision on hold for two weeks. Judge Reeves explained his decision, “Today’s decision may cause uneasiness and concern about the change it will bring,” U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves wrote. “Mississippi continues to change in ways its people could not anticipate even 10 years ago. Allowing same-sex couples to marry, however, presents no harm to anyone. At the very least, it has the potential to support families and provide stability for children.”