Both Utah and Oklahoma will get the same panel of federal judges for their gay marriage appeals as the Tenth Circuit agrees to expedite the cases.
Although the judges will be the same, the oral arguments won't be heard at the same time, The Oklahoman reports. However, briefs will be allowed to be filed jointly.
So could a decision bring gay marriage back to SCOTUS?
Same Judges, Different Oral Arguments
As a reminder of how we got here, the Tenth Circuit agreed to expedite a review of Utah's same-sex marriage ban back in January. Like the nice people they are, the feds are recognizing gay marriages in Utah that occurred when the law was temporarily overturned by U.S. District Judge Shelby. For the rest of the couples, they must await the Tenth Circuit's upcoming decision. In Oklahoma, a district judge also overturned the state's gay marriage ban, but stayed his decision.
This brings us to the present, where gay couples in Oklahoma filed a motion to get their case up to speed with Utah's appeals timeline. They also asked the court to allow their amicus briefs to be filed jointly, according to the Tenth Circuit Court's order.
The court granted the expedited schedule and the joint filing request, but ordered that the briefing and oral arguments to be held separately.
SCOTUS At The End of The Rainbow?
Having the Tenth Circuit assign the same panel of judges and expediting both cases can be seen as solid step for same-sex marriage proponents. It could show that the Tenth Circuit is interested creating consistent precedent when it comes to the merits of gay marriage bans. Further, allowing both the Utah and Oklahoma appeals to be expedited can be interpreted as the court recognizing the need to making a timely decision on this important social issue.
Regardless of the outcome, it's very likely that the losing party will appeal to SCOTUS. If so, it could force the Court to finally opine on the constitutional right to same-sex marriage.
No dates for oral arguments have been set yet, so stay tuned.
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- Appeals court to review Oklahoma gay marriage case on expedited basis (The Denver Post)
- SCOTUS Marriage Rulings: DOMA Is Dead, Prop. 8 Down on Standing (FindLaw's Supreme Court of the United States Blog)
- Year in Review 2013: Highlights From the 10th Circuit (FindLaw's U.S. Tenth Circuit Blog)