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Monday, June 09, 2014

Courts - More on "Wisconsin federal Judge Strikes Down State's Ban On Same-Sex Couples’ Marriages"

Updating this ILB post from Friday, of the three states that constitute the 7th Circuit:

Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSBLOG had this report Friday evening on the Wisconsin decision.

From a story this morning
in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Several county clerks in Wisconsin were gearing up Monday morning to issue marriage licenses to more same-sex couples, while other county clerks were waiting for clarification from the state after a federal judge ruled that the state's ban on same-sex vows was unconstitutional.

Rock County officials announced Sunday that the county clerk will issue marriage licenses Monday to all qualified couples, joining clerks in Milwaukee and Dane counties. Between Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, 283 same-sex couples in Wisconsin's two largest cities obtained marriage licenses — 146 in Milwaukee and 137 in Madison.

Same sex-couples lined up in other counties in Wisconsin early Monday, only to be turned away. In Outagamie County, the clerk refused to issue the licenses to three same-sex couples who applied for marriage licenses Monday, saying she was waiting for guidance from the state vital records offices, according to Post-Crescent Media.

In Brown County, a small group of people waited outside the clerk's office for marriage licenses, Press-Gazette Media reported, but they, too, were told they would have to wait while county officials sought further guidance from the state.

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is expected to petition a federal appeals court on Monday to stop county clerks from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He made a similar request of U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb on Friday after she overturned the state's same-sex marriage ban, but the judge had not taken action on it over the weekend.

Crabb's 88-page decision was different from the others around the country because although she ruled Wisconsin's ban against same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, she did not issue an order instructing county and state officials on what to do about it.

Here is the long J-S story from Saturday by Jason Stein, Patrick Marley and Dana Ferguson. Some quotes:
In the 88-page decision, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that the prohibition on same-sex vows in the state violated the rights of gay and lesbian couples to equal protection under the federal constitution and fair treatment under the law.

She did not stay her ruling but also did not immediately issue an order blocking the enforcement of the ban, sparking a heated and hasty debate on whether the ruling meant that couples could immediately marry in the courthouses of Wisconsin.

Instead, Crabb asked the gay couples who had sued over the ban to say by June 16 exactly what they wanted done to enforce her ruling, with a further wait of one to two weeks for both sides in the lawsuit to file responses. Crabb, who was appointed by President Jimmy Carter, said she would then address whether to stay her decision while the matter is on appeal.

"Quite simply, this case is about liberty and equality, the two cornerstones of the rights protected by the United States Constitution," Crabb wrote in her decision. * * *

Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell, a Democrat, began issuing marriage licenses at 5 p.m. Friday as gay couples were married there throughout the night. He said state Department of Justice officials advised him not to issue the licenses but McDonell moved forward despite that.

"They don't get to tell me that," he said of DOJ. "A judge gets to....If someone comes to me, how could I say no to them?"

Milwaukee County Clerk Joe Czarnezki, also a Democrat, issued marriage licenses through Friday night and planned to do so again on Saturday.

"Personally, I'm pleased she struck the ban down," he said of Crabb. "It makes us proud to be in Wisconsin and a state that's standing up for marriage equality."

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said he would personally pay for any overtime costs for keeping the courthouse open. Cheers erupted at PrideFest in Milwaukee as Abele announced the extended hours to the crowds. * * *

In her decision, Crabb said the state failed to show that the ban is "substantially related" to an important state goal. She questioned whether the state could even count as important public interests its stated goals of tradition, procreation and avoiding a "slippery slope" toward polygamy or incest.

She said that many other policies later found unconstitutional, such as segregation, were longstanding and popular among a majority of a state's voters.

She closed by quoting former Supreme Court Justice Benjamin Cardozo: "Justice is not to be taken by storm, but must be wooed by slow advances."

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 9, 2014 09:11 AM
Posted to Courts in general