Thursday, March 27, 2014

Important 9th Circuit Gay Rights Ruling May Not Be Permanent

Uh-oh! Although the date passed on March 7, 2014  by which the parties involved could appeal the 9th Circuit's important ruling in SmithKlinBeacham v Abbott in which the federal appellate court ruled earlier this year that sexual orientation must receive heightened scrutiny when laws are being analyzed for equal protection purposes, now comes word that the ruling may not be final and that an en banc hearing on the case may be in the works.
"A sua sponte en banc call having been made, the parties are instructed to filewithin 21 days of the filing date of this order simultaneous briefs setting forth theirrespective positions on whether the case should be reheard en banc. See G.O.5.4c(3). An original and fifty copies shall be filed. See Ninth Cir. R. 35-4(b)."

The court published an order today (excerpted above) which gives interested parties 21 days to file briefs as to why or why not a panel of 11 judges should hear the case, and possibly reverse it. What happens now is that after 21 days the entire 9th Circuit (which has something like 26 judges) will vote as to whether an en banc hearing should occur. If a majority votes in favor, then there is a possibility that a randomly selected 11-judge panel or the U.S. Supreme Court could reverse the ruling.  The current 3-judge panel that issued the unanimous ruling has some of the most liberal members of the circuit on it (Berzon, Reinhardt and Schroeder).

SmithKline is incredibly important ruling and the question of whether marriage equality will come sooner or later to atleast two states in the 9th Circuit's jurisdiction (namely Nevada and Oregon) depends on whether the idea that sexual orientation is indeed a suspect class, which is a key corolary of the SmithKline Beacham decision.

MadProfessah will be watching developments in this case very closely!

Hat/tip to Equality on Trial

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