Delay sought on Virginia same-sex marriages (UPDATED)
on Aug 16, 2014 at 6:54 pm
UPDATE Friday 12:37 p.m. Chief Justice Roberts has asked for a response to this stay application, due by 5 p.m. next Monday.
UPDATE Thursday 6:52 p.m. The county clerk in Virginia’s Prince William County asked the Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon to put on hold the Fourth Circuit’s decision striking down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. Clerk Michelle B. McQuigg filed the application (14A196) with Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., who handles emergency filings from the geographic area of the Fourth Circuit. He has the authority to act on his own or share the issue with his colleagues. McQuigg plans to file her own petition for review. State officials already had filed their petition (14-153). Those officials support the McQuigg request, the filing said. (Earlier posts on the Virginia situation are below.)
UPDATE Thursday 12:50 p.m. The clerk of the Fourth Circuit has notified counsel that the decision against the Virginia same-sex marriage ban is scheduled — as of now — to go into effect at 9 a.m. next Thursday, a day later than state officials had expected. However, that could be delayed if the Supreme Court were to impose a delay.
UPDATE 4:01 p.m. Attorneys for the Prince William County clerk, who has been defending the Virginia same-sex marriage ban, said on Wednesday afternoon that they will ask the Supreme Court to postpone the Fourth Circuit’s ruling against that ban. They said they would do so before the appeals court decision takes effect, next Wednesday.
Unless the Supreme Court steps in to postpone marriages for same-sex couples in Virginia, they could begin getting licenses to wed as early as next Wednesday, after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit refused a delay Wednesday morning. If the procedure that has been followed in similar cases is used again, however, the Justices would be likely to order a postponement, if asked.
The Fourth Circuit late last month struck down the Virginia ban on same-sex marriages, and the state has now appealed that to the Supreme Court (Rainey v. Bostic), even though state officials support the decision. A county clerk who has been defending the Virginia ban is also expected to file a petition for review of that decision, and both are likely to be considered by the Court early in the new Term starting this fall.
Two federal appeals courts have now struck down same-sex marriage bans in three states — Virginia, Oklahoma, and Utah — and a third appeals court is expected to rule soon on challenges to similar bans in four states in the Sixth Circuit.
Twice before, the Supreme Court has blocked same-sex weddings or state recognition of existing same-sex marriages when asked to do so by state officials in Utah. Some judges have interpreted those orders as indicating that the Justices do not want such marriages to go ahead until after appeals have been resolved.
The Fourth Circuit’s three-judge panel denied the stay, in a two-to-one decision. The decision itself was similarly divided.