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Thursday, August 07, 2014

Courts - More on yesterday's "Gay marriage showdown in Cincinnati: 4 states, 6 cases, 3 judges"

Updating yesterday's ILB post, here are reports of the oral arguments.

From Chris Geidner of BuzzFeed, a story headed "Four States’ Same-Sex Marriage Bans Up In The Air After Three Hours Of Arguments." The long, analytical story begins:

CINCINNATI — The fate of legal decisions about marriage for same-sex couples in four states likely rests, for now at least, in the hands of one federal judge.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals heard hours of oral arguments Wednesday about cases in four states — all concerned either bans on marriages for same-sex couples or the recognition of those marriages. And the question of whether the court will join the other federal courts to rule on those issues likely sits the hands of Judge Jeffrey Sutton.

Nominated to the bench by President George W. Bush in 2001, Sutton was a prominent lawyer for conservative causes before being confirmed to the bench in 2003 — but he also cast a pivotal vote siding with the Obama administration in a 2011 challenge to the Affordable Care Act.

Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey, nominated by President Clinton in 1993, sparred forcefully with the various lawyers defending the states’ bans — asking repeatedly how claimed state interests relating to procreation were furthered by excluding same-sex couples from marriage. Judge Deborah Cook, another nominee of President George W. Bush on the other hand, spoke the least during the arguments but raised issues generally sympathetic to the states when she did join in the fray.

Sutton was left in the middle, speaking positively about same-sex couples but focusing primarily on three questions: one that was, effectively, a procedural question of “hierarchy” and whether the appeals court is bound by an earlier Supreme Court decision against same-sex couples’ marriage rights and two that were, for the most part, policy issues that could play into his ultimate decision in the cases.

From the NY Times today, a story by Erik Eckholm titled "One Court, Three Judges and Four States With Gay Marriage Cases." It begins:
CINCINNATI — The steady march of judicial approval for same-sex marriage over the past year ran into some skepticism here on Wednesday as a three-judge federal appeals panel heard arguments in six same-sex marriage cases from four states.

In three hours of back-and-forth questioning, it appeared that neither side could take victory for granted in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, where the cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee were heard by two judges appointed by President George W. Bush and one by President Bill Clinton.

Judge Jeffrey S. Sutton, one of the Bush appointees and a likely swing vote among the three, repeatedly asked why gay rights advocates wanted to use the courts to hasten an outcome they were gradually winning through elections and changes in attitude.

All the oral arguments may be heard here, via the 6th Circuit.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on August 7, 2014 10:05 AM
Posted to Courts in general