Nevada Pro-Marriage Lawyers Ask SCOTUS: Must States Redefine Marriage?


From the SCOTUSblog:

Lawyers for a group defending Nevada’s ban on same-sex marriage asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday afternoon to decide the most basic constitutional question in that controversy: must a state allow gays and lesbians to get married?  That is an issue that no other pending case at the Court has raised.  The new case involves a Nevada federal judge’s ruling that there is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage, and the new petition seeks to defend that even while asking the Justices to step in.

“After twenty years of intense judicial and extra-judicial engagement with the question of the public meaning of marriage, the Nation is now looking to this Court for the federal constitutional answer to the fundamental marriage issue,” the petition said.

The case is Coalition for the Protection of Marriage v. Beverly Sevcik; it is a plea for the Court to hear the case directly from the federal district court in Reno without waiting for a ruling on the case by the Ninth Circuit Court.  The petition and appendix with the district judge’s ruling can be found here.

... Judge Jones’s decision has now been appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court by the same-sex couples involved in the case (pending in that court on docket 12-17668).  But the defenders of the state ban asked the Supreme Court to grant review of the case now, before it moves forward in the Circuit Court.   The Supreme Court has the authority to lift up a case like that from a federal district court, if the case already has been appealed to a Circuit Court.  In fact, the Court is also being asked to do that in some of the other pending same-sex marriage cases.

... In asking the Supreme Court to add to the current consideration of the controversy, the defenders of Nevada’s traditional marriage amendment said that if the Court confined its review to any of the other pending cases, it would make a decision “without resolution of the fundamental marriage issue.”   This is the way the petition framed that issue: “Whether the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause requires Nevada to change its definition of marriage from the union of a man and a woman to the union of two persons.”

Pressing that question, the petition said it “may be the most nationally important and consequential issue to come before this Court in many years.  Of the ‘marriage’ cases now before this Court, this case is optimal for resolving the fundamental issue for several reasons.  The case is the only one that cannot be resolved without answering the fundamental issue.”