Though the Tenth Circuit (in cases involving Utah and Oklahoma) and Fourth Circuit (in a case involving Virginia) have already issued opinions striking down state gay marriage bans, this is the first set of cases out of the Sixth Circuit. And since all of the cases have been consolidated into one set of mega-arguments, the issue could be settled virtually overnight.
We also have the skinny on the panel, which includes two Republican appointees and one Democratic appointee, as well as information for those who wish to attend the oral arguments in person.
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Five Cases, Four States...
Here are the five cases that will be a part of the mega-arguments:
- DeBoer v. Snyder, Case No. 14-1341: Judge Bernard A. Friedman struck down Michigan's ban [PDF] on same-sex marriage as a violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
- Obergefell v. Himes, Case No. 14-3057: Judge Timothy S. Black held that Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages on death certificates issued by the state.
- Henry v. Himes, Case No. 14-3464: Judge Black also held that Ohio must recognize valid same-sex marriages lawfully performed in other states.
- Bourke v. Beshear, Case No. 14-5291: Judge John G. Heyburn II held that Kentucky's refusal to recognize valid same-sex out-of-state marriages violates the equal protection clause.
- Tanco v. Haslam, Case No. 14-5297: Judge Aleta A. Trauger issued a narrow holding that Tennessee must recognize three valid out-of-state same-sex marriages.
And the three judges who will hear oral arguments will be:
- Senior Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey, appointed by President Bill Clinton.
- Judge Jeffrey Sutton, appointed by President George W. Bush.
- Judge Deborah L. Cook, also appointed by President George W. Bush.
The Courier-Journal has a full run-down of the three judges' backgrounds, including these interesting notes:
- Judge Sutton's nomination was opposed by 70 rights groups. He once wrote an opinion reinstating a lawsuit filed by a graduate counseling student who was expelled from Eastern Michigan University when she refused to work with clients in same-sex relationships. Then again, he also authored the first opinion in favor of Obamacare.
- Judge Cook authored an opinion while on the Ohio Supreme Court striking down a law that criminalized making "offensive solicitations" to persons of the same sex while allowing such solicitations of the opposite sex.
- Judge Daughtrey joined a 2006 ruling that an Ohio prison chaplain could not stop an openly gay inmate from leading a band just because he was gay. She was once described as "too liberal" to be a potential Democratic Supreme Court nominee.
Two Overflow Courtrooms, One Hour Past Noon...
The Sixth Circuit announced earlier this month [PDF] that two overflow courtrooms will be available with live audio streaming of the arguments, with seats available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Though electronic devices are allowed in the courthouse, all devices must be turned off during oral arguments. No photography or video or audio recording is allowed.
Arguments are scheduled for 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday, August 6. The court, located at 100 E. Fifth Street in Cincinnati, will begin letting spectators in at noon; valid photo identification is required for admittance.
Of course if you can't be there in person, you'll want to bookmark FindLaw's U.S. Sixth Circuit Blog so you don't miss our coverage of next week's historic gay marriage arguments.
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