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The undefeated streak is over.

Last week, a state judge in Tennessee ruled against gay marriage, becoming the first to do so since the Supreme Court decided United States v. Windsor last year. In a case brought by two men, legally married in Iowa but seeking a divorce in Tennessee, Judge Russell E. Simmons, Jr. held that Tennessee's Anti-Recognition clause, passed directly by the voters, should stand, as "neither the Federal Government nor another state should be allowed to dictate to Tennessee what has traditionally been a state's responsibility."

We'll admit it: We were pretty excited for yesterday's marathon oral arguments at the Sixth Circuit. How often does a fundamental civil rights issue get hashed out in court? How often are five cases and four states' laws addressed all at once, marathon-style?

But as unique as these cases are procedurally, the truth is this: Whatever the Sixth Circuit holds in a few weeks or months, it'll likely be irrelevant.

On August 6, 2014, the Sixth Circuit will hear oral arguments in five consolidated cases addressing same-sex marriage bans in every state in the circuit -- Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan and Ohio.

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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Late last week, a district court in Michigan held that the state's constitutional provision and implementing laws the defined marriage as "the union of one man and one woman" violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In making such a holding, that court joined countless other courts across the nation, but unlike many of those courts, the district court denied the state's request for a stay pending appeal.

The Sixth Circuit granted an emergency stay (after a few hundred marriage licenses were handed out to same-sex couples), and yesterday afternoon, continue the stay until the circuit court could hear the appeal.

One of these cases is not like the others. While many parties have challenged states' gay marriage bans generally, and others have targeted a state's refusal to recognize other states' same-sex couplings, the Ohio gay marriage case was especially narrow, focusing on the listing of one's spouse on his or her death certificate.

The plaintiffs, who were seeking recognition of their same-sex marriages (legally entered into in other states) on their deceased loved one's death certificates, triumphed in the district court. Now, they've asked the Sixth Circuit to expedite the appeal, reports Equality on Trial.

Guardian Ad Litem Fees are Nondischargeable in Bankruptcy

There are certain obligations that a bankruptcy petitioner can't shed in court.

For example, barring "undue hardship," your student loans will follow you. Forever.

Student loans, however, have nothing on child support. Courts are pretty committed to enforcing domestic support obligations. And that commitment to extends to guardian ad litem fees.

State Rule Violations Don't Nullify Judicial Immunity

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decided this week that a state court rules violation does not dissolve judicial immunity.

Before ascending to the bench, Tennessee Judge James G. Martin was a lawyer and sometimes-mediator at a Nashville law firm. In 2008, he mediated Christopher Savoie’s divorce and child custody arrangement. Just months after Martin became Judge Martin, he was assigned to review a restraining order in Savoie’s custody arrangement with his ex-wife.

Kovacic v. Cuyahoga County Dep't of Children & Family Serv., No. 08-4656, concerned a suit brought by plaintiff-mother on behalf of herself and her minor children claiming that her constitutional rights were violated when social workers, aided by police officers, entered her home by force and removed her children.

In affirming the judgment of the district court in part, the court held that the district court correctly ruled that all of plaintiff's claims are time barred.  However, portion of the district court's judgment with respect to the children's claims is reversed as the claims by the children are not barred by Rooker-Feldman as their claims do not seek review or reversal of the decision of the juvenile court to award temporary custody to the state, but instead focus on the conduct of Family Services and of the social workers that led up to the juvenile court's decision to award temporary custody to the county.  

Related Resource:

Harris v. Metro. Gov't of Nashville & Davidson County, No. 08-6329

In plaintiff's action under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) claiming that the reduction to his coaching supplement as head boys' varsity basketball coach upon his return from leave violated the Act, judgment in the amount of $9,258.82 in favor of the plaintiff is reversed where: 1)the district court erred in failing to consider a proffered defense; 2) plaintiff was not prejudiced by the adjustment to the basketball coaching supplement; and 3) grant of summary judgment in favor of the Metropolitan government and four individual defendants with respect to plaintiff's claims of age discrimination and retaliation are affirmed as no reasonable juror could conclude that defendants' proffered reasons were pretext either for age discrimination or for retaliation.  

Read Harris v. Metro. Gov't of Nashville & Davidson County, No. 08-6329

Appellate Information

Argued: December 1, 2009

Decided and Filed: February 5, 2010

Judges

Opinion by Circuit Judge Guy

Counsel

For Appellant:  Allison L. Bussell, Metropolitan Department of Law

For Appellee:  Douglas B. Janney, III, Law Office