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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

BREAKING: Supreme Court Denies Petitions on Marriage Ban Appeals

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Breaking News E-mail

Gay marriages to resume as Supreme Court rejects appeals

The U.S. Supreme Court has turned away appeals from Wisconsin and four other states seeking to prohibit same-sex marriages, paving the way for an immediate expansion of gay and lesbian unions.

NY Times Breaking News E-mail

Supreme Court Clears Way for Gay Marriage in 5 States

The Supreme Court on Monday denied review in all five pending same-sex marriage cases, clearing the way for such marriages to proceed in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

The move was a major surprise and suggests that the justices are not going to intercede in the wave of decisions in favor of same-sex marriage at least until a federal appeals court upholds a state ban.

This just got upended

UPDATE: What it looks like now


This morning the Court issued additional orders from its September 29 Conference.   Most notably, the Court denied review of all seven of the petitions arising from challenges to state bans on same-sex marriage.  This means that the lower-court decisions striking down bans in Indiana, Wisconsin, Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia should go into effect shortly, clearing the way for same-sex marriages in those states and any other state with similar bans in those circuits.

Over 30 states now must allow same-sex marriage.

More news items below …

From Equality on Trial: Supreme Court declines to decide marriage equality issue at this time, denying all seven petitions

Today’s list includes denials of review in several cases, including the seven marriage petitions. The appeals court decisions will remain binding in those circuits. There were two cases from the Tenth Circuit (from Oklahoma and Utah), two from the Seventh Circuit (Indiana and Wisconsin), and three from the Fourth Circuit (all three from the Virginia case.) Meanwhile, several states within those circuits have similar same-sex marriage bans. The final appeals court decisions striking these bans will be binding precedent in cases challenging the bans from those other states.

From TPM: SCOTUS Denies Appeals On Gay Marriage From 5 States

The justices on Monday did not comment in rejecting appeals from Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. No other state cases were currently pending with the high court, but the justices stopped short of resolving for now the question of same-sex marriage nationwide.

The court’s order immediately ends delays on marriage in those states. Couples in six other states – Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming – should be able to get married in short order. Those states would be bound by the same appellate rulings that were put on hold pending the Supreme Court’sreview.

That would make same-sex marriage legal in 30 states and the District of Columbia. […]

Two other appeals courts, in Cincinnati and San Francisco, could issue decisions any time in same-sex marriage cases. Judges in the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit who are weighing pro-gay marriage rulings in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, appeared more likely to rule in favor of state bans than did the 9th Circuit judges in San Francisco, who are considering Idaho and Nevada restrictions on marriage.

It takes 4 justices to decide to take a case. There was no indication how the justices voted in these cases.  


  1. Tenth Circuit lifts stay:

    “Order filed by Judges Kelly, Lucero and Holmes – On this date, the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari review in this matter. Consequently, the stay of the mandate directed in our decision dated 6/25/14 is lifted, and the mandate shall issue forthwith. A copy of this order shall stand as the mandate of this court”

    Marriages can continue in Utah.

  2. Equality on Trial:

    … with those decisions left in place, they will serve as precedent for all states within those circuits. This could mean in a short amount of time, bans will be wiped out in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Colorado, Kansas, Utah, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Wisconsin, and Indiana.

    So the Wisconsin attorney general has conceded that he wasted taxpayer money on an appeal that had little to no chance of succeeding. But wasting money on right-wing causes like constitutional amendments discriminating against people, or stopping the poors from voting, is okay … using any of that money to help Wisconsinites get affordable health care, not so much.

    Scottie Thomaston at the Equality On Trial blog is updating his posts with minute by minute breaking information about the status of weddings in the affected states.

  3. DeniseVelez

    before I could ask it

    “It takes 4 justices to decide to take a case. There was no indication how the justices vote in these cases.”

  4. This TPM headline pretty much describes it: Anti-Gay Group Spews Furious Word Salad Over SCOTUS Ruling

    [Brian] Brown wrapped up by calling on voters to hold politicians — and Republican party leaders in particular — to account for the “illegitimate act of attempting to redefine marriage.”

    Please do, Republican voters! Vote out those Republican party leaders!!!

    This comment by Tony Perkins of the FRC was a bit strange. I am not sure what he thinks is left to resolve, there is no appeal to a Supreme Court decision (or non-decision):

    … time is on the side not of same-sex marriage advocates, but of those who see same-sex marriage as an attack on their “religious freedom.”

    He is free to not marry a man, churches still don’t have to marry any couple, gay or straight, who they don’t feel meet their religious tests. What freedom is he talking about???

  5. Many more same-sex marriages soon, but where?


    With not a single dependable hint of its own constitutional view of same-sex marriage, the Supreme Court in one fell swoop on Monday cleared the way for gays and lesbians to wed in a batch of new states – starting first in five more states, and probably adding six more in the coming weeks.  If that happens in all eleven, it will mean that same-sex marriages would then be legal in thirty states and Washington, D.C.

    In seven one-line orders, released without explanation and with no report on how any Justice voted, the Court surprisingly refused to review any same-sex marriage case now before it and, in the process, prepared to lift a series of orders that had delayed such marriages while the issue remained in the Court.   Almost no one had expected that to happen.

    UPDATE Monday afternoon.  Within hours after the Supreme Court denied review in these cases, the Fourth Circuit put its ruling in the Virginia case into immediate effect (see here) and the Tenth Circuit did the same in its rulings in both the Oklahoma and Utah cases (see orders here and here).  The Seventh Circuit has yet to act.

  6. First Monday surprise on same-sex marriage: In Plain English

    On the first question – why did the Court decide to deny review, when it had granted review in the Proposition 8 case less than two years ago? – all we can do is speculate.  Although the Justices do sometimes write short opinions to explain why they are not reviewing a particular case (or why they think the Court should have reviewed the case), they don’t have to, and no one opted to do so today. […]

    Strategy may have also played a role in the decision to deny review.  The Court’s four more liberal Justices – Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan – may have been content to leave well enough alone, from their perspective.  Put another way, they may have preferred to let the tide of decisions striking down state bans continue to flow steadily, rather than risk a broader decision which might turn back that tide altogether.

    What is harder to imagine is why some of the Court’s more conservative Justices didn’t join forces to grant review.  Indeed, it was nearly impossible to fathom that they would allow the lower-court decisions striking down state bans on same-sex marriage to go into effect without a fight, even if (as the conventional wisdom has surmised) they remained concerned about their ability to persuade Justice Anthony Kennedy to join them in upholding the bans.

    There’s more on where the court will go next.

    Amy Howe does the “Plain English” series of posts from SCOTUSblog and helps laypeople (like me) understand the machinations.  

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