Thursday, November 06, 2014

6th U.S. Circuit Rules AGAINST Marriage Equality, Upholding Bans In KY, MI, OH and TN

Well! In a somewhat surprising move, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has reversed multiple lower court rulings in favor of marriage equality and issued a 2-1 decision upholding the rights of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee to enforce laws that restrict marriage to one man and one woman.

The 2-1 decision is contrary to decisions in the 9th, 10th, 4th and 7th Circuits which all favored marriage equality and which the Supreme Court declined to review last month, effectively granting marriage equality to go into effect in 30-plus states. Today's decision means that it is much more likely now that the United States Supreme Court will have to step in and give  a final resolution of the marriage equality question once and for all, probably by June 2015.

The two judges appointed by President Gerge W. Bush voted to uphold the marriage bans using the argument that judges should not be deciding such a question which could (and should) be sresolved by the Democratic process while the judge appointed by President Clinton voiced a fierce dissent to such an idea:
If we in the judiciary do not have the authority, and indeed the responsibility, to right fundamental wrongs left excused by a majority of the electorate, our whole intricate, constitutional system of checks and balances, as well as the oaths to which we swore, prove to be nothing but shams. 
Instead, the majority sets up a false premise—that the question before us is “who should decide?”—and leads us through a largely irrelevant discourse on democracy and federalism. In point of fact, the real issue before us concerns what is at stake in these six cases for the individual plaintiffs and their children, and what should be done about it. Because I reject the majority’s resolution of these questions based on its invocation of vox populi and its reverence for “proceeding with caution” (otherwise known as the “wait and see” approach), I dissent.
It will be interesting to see how quickly the U.S. Supreme Court responds to today's actions by the 6th Circuit. Ruth Bader Ginsburg predicted that the Court would not feel inclined to get involved unless and until a Circuit split developed, and that is exactly what happened today.

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