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Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Courts - "Gay marriage showdown in Cincinnati: 4 states, 6 cases, 3 judges"

Five cases are listed as being argued before a 6th Circuit panel, sitting in Cincinnati, starting at 1:00 PM today:

Interest is high. From the Court's notice:
Arguments will be heard in the Potter Stewart Courthouse, 100 East Fifth Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. Two overflow courtrooms will be provided in which spectators will be able to hear live audio streaming of the oral arguments. Even with overflow space, courtroom seating is very limited, and no other seating will be available in the courthouse. Once the courtrooms have reached capacity, no additional spectators will be admitted to the courthouse.

Audio recordings of the arguments will be available from the court’s website as soon as practical after the conclusion of all of the arguments, and may be downloaded at no charge.

Spectator seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Seats may not be “saved” for spectators arriving later.

From an AP story by Amanda Lee Myers:
CINCINNATI (AP) — A federal appeals court is set to hear arguments in six gay marriage fights from four states — Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee — in the biggest such session on the issue so far.

Three judges of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati will consider arguments Wednesday that pit states' rights and traditional, conservative values against what plaintiffs' attorneys say is a fundamental right to marry under the U.S. Constitution. Large demonstrations are expected outside the courthouse by both opponents and supporters.

Michigan's and Kentucky's cases stem from rulings striking down each state's gay marriage bans. Ohio's case deals only with the state's recognition of out-of-state gay marriages, while Tennessee's is narrowly focused on the rights of three same-sex couples.

Attorneys on both sides in the Michigan and Ohio cases will go first and get a half-hour each to make their cases. Kentucky and Tennessee will follow, with 15 minutes for each side from both states. * * *

Constitutional law professors and court observers say the 6th Circuit could deliver the first victory to gay marriage opponents.

The three judges hearing the case are Jeffrey S. Sutton and Deborah L. Cook, both nominees of President George W. Bush, and Martha Craig Daughtrey, a pick of President Bill Clinton.

Sutton is considered the least predictable, shocking Republicans in 2011 when he became the deciding vote in a 6th Circuit ruling that upheld President Barack Obama's landmark health care overhaul.

If the 6th Circuit decides against gay marriage, that would create a divide among federal appeals courts and put pressure on the U.S. Supreme Court to settle the issue for good in its 2015 session.

Two federal appeals courts already have ruled in favor of gay marriage, one in Denver in June and another in Richmond, Virginia, last week. On Tuesday, Utah appealed the ruling from the Denver-based court, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the case and uphold the state's ban.

The 6th Circuit is the first of three federal appeals courts to hear arguments from multiple states in August and September.

The 7th Circuit in Chicago has similar arguments set for Aug. 26 for bans in Wisconsin and Indiana. The 9th Circuit in San Francisco is set to take up bans in Idaho and Nevada on Sept. 8.

From the 6th Circuit oral augment schedule for this week, the ILB has clipped this page re this afternoon's arguments:

From Tresa Baldas of the Detroit Free Press, this story today - some quotes:

Michigan’s gay marriage ban is set for another legal showdown, only this one involves more players, more judges and likely more drama.

Today, the historic civil rights case that centers on the right to marry heads to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, where three federal appeals judges will decide the fate of same-sex marriage bans in Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio. In each of these states, a judge has ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, though all rulings have been appealed. * * *

“The 6th Circuit cases promise to be a blockbuster, whatever the court decides. There are multiple decisions from multiple jurisdictions involving multiple issues for this court to sort through,” said Marc Spindelman, a constitutional and family law professor at the Ohio State University who has written extensively on issues of gender, sexuality and the law.

At issue, he said, are two key questions: “How do recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions involving lesbian and gay rights affect state-level bans on same-sex marriage? What should happen to state laws that treat same-sex couples and their marriages different than their cross-sex counterparts?”

Wednesday’s oral arguments may contain some important clues about how the 6th Circuit judges read and understand the legal precedents in this area, Spindelman said. They could also reveal if the court will join or buck the emerging of courts declaring that state bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional, he said.

The long story goes on to discuss in detail several of the cases.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 6, 2014 09:28 AM
Posted to Courts in general