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No stay for Alabama (UPDATED)

The Court today denied Alabama’s request to stay a federal judge’s ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.  The state had asked the Court to delay the implementation of that ruling until after the Court rules on the pending challenges to similar bans in Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and Michigan.  Because the Alabama ruling is scheduled to go into effect today, the Court’s order effectively cleared the way for same-sex marriages to go forward in Alabama.

Justice Clarence Thomas dissented from the denial of the stay, in a three-page opinion that was joined by Justice Antonin Scalia.  Thomas argued that, “[w]hen courts declare state laws unconstitutional and enjoin state officials from enforcing them,” the Court’s “ordinary practice is to suspend those injunctions from taking effect pending appellate review.”  Noting that the Court had “granted a stay in similar circumstances a little over a year ago,” Thomas suggested that Alabama’s request “should have been treated no differently.”  Moreover, Thomas observed, the Court’s failure to grant a stay “may well be seen as a signal of the Court’s intended resolution” of the same-sex marriage question.  “This,” he complained, “is not the proper way to discharge our Article III responsibilities.  And, it is indecorous for this Court to pretend that it is.”

Reports on social media now indicate that same-sex couples have been issued marriage licenses and are getting married in Alabama.

Recommended Citation: Amy Howe, No stay for Alabama (UPDATED), SCOTUSblog (Feb. 9, 2015, 9:59 AM),