Archive for Monday, November 10, 2014

Supreme Court puts hold on Tuesday expiration of Kansas gay marriage ban

November 10, 2014, 1:46 p.m. Updated November 10, 2014, 5:37 p.m.


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Monday put a hold on a lower-court order that would have opened the door for same-sex couples to get married in Kansas as early as Wednesday.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt had requested the stay following a decision last week by U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Crabtree, who said state court officials in Douglas and Sedgwick counties must begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex applicants starting Wednesday.

Schmidt appealed that ruling to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but the appellate court on Friday refused to delay Crabtree’s ruling. Schmidt then filed an emergency request with Sotomayor, who handles emergency appeals from states within the 10th Circuit.

As part of her response, Sotomayor also directed the American Civil Liberties Union to file a response to Schmidt’s request by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

In his motion to Sotomayor, Schmidt said Crabtree’s order should be delayed until the federal lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on gay marriage can be fully heard on its merits and all appeals are exhausted. He also argued that the federal courts should refrain from taking action until another case pending before the Kansas Supreme Court is decided.

Meanwhile, Douglas County court clerk Douglas Hamilton had been preparing to start processing marriage licenses for same-sex couples as early as Wednesday and was bracing for an onslaught of applications.

“We have another location set up in the courthouse to handle the overflow,” Hamilton said before Sotomayor’s action.

Judge Crabtree’s order was limited just to Douglas and Sedgwick counties because those are the counties where the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, two lesbian couples, reside. It also applies to the Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, whose Office of Vital Statistics governs the forms used to apply for licenses and records marriage certificates.

Rick Levy, a constitutional law professor at Kansas University, said he thinks it’s unlikely the Supreme Court will delay gay marriage in Kansas much longer.

“The Supreme Court has already allowed judicial orders invalidating these laws to go into effect in other states,” Levy said. “It’s unclear to me why Kansas would be any different from those other states.”

In October, the Supreme Court refused to hear the appeal of several cases in which federal appeals courts had struck down state bans on same-sex marriage. Two of thsoe cases were from the 10th Circuit.

Last week, however, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld state bans on gay marriage in four other states, setting up the possibility that the high court will now take the appeals.

Meanwhile, if Crabtree’s order is allowed to take effect, it remains unclear whether gay marriages will be allowed to proceed only in Douglas and Sedgwick counties, or if the order will apply statewide.

In a separate case pending at the Kansas Supreme Court, the attorney general’s office is seeking an order to block the Johnson County District Court from granting licenses to same-sex couples. Schmidt’s office filed that action Oct. 10 when Judge Kevin Moriarty issued an administrative order directing the court clerk’s staff to process those license applications as they would for opposite-sex couples.

The Kansas Supreme Court granted that order, known as a writ of mandamus, saying it was necessary “in the interest of establishing statewide consistency.”

But following Judge Crabtree’s order in the federal case, the Kansas high court later delayed a hearing in the Johnson County case, which had been set for Nov. 4. The Kansas court now is asking the parties to show cause why the Johnson County case should not be put on hold until the federal case is resolved.

Witt said he hopes gay marriages can begin statewide on Wednesday.

“It’s going to be a strange day when your constitutional rights are predicated on what county you live in,” he said.


Lisa Rasor 3 years, 5 months ago

Peter, Thanks for continuing to report on all the cases going on regarding marriage equality in Kansas. The hearing in the Kansas Supreme Court case, Schmidt v. Moriarty, was set for November 6, not November 4. They set a conference date of Nov. 14 at 10 a.m. for an update. They may end up continuing it again, though, because briefs in the 10th Circuit en banc review aren't due until Nov. 21, and our Supremes may want to continue to wait and see how that case plays out.

Linda Zambanini 3 years, 5 months ago

Thank you for your detailed post about the mess in KS! I've been looking for info about the KS Supreme Court Case - including it's name -- to try to track down when they'll have a hearing, and your post is the only place I've found it! Plus your update about the 10th circuit en banc dates is very helpful. I can't wait till the foot-dragging Schmidt is smacked down by them! Sure wish the 10th could expedite this! It's taking way too long! Justice delayed is justice denied!

Rick Masters 3 years, 5 months ago

What about The Prophecy!?!?! We're doooooooooomed! Commence the literal crumbling of our country as it was foretold to our very own Carl Burkhead! And before you scoff at his predictions, remember that the cracking has already started over at the new sporting complex! Who's laughing now, huh?

Paul R Getto 3 years, 5 months ago

I want to marry two goats and a lizard.

Steve Jacob 3 years, 5 months ago

Think all the courts are waiting for guidance from the US Supreme Court, and they don't want any part of it.

Leslie Swearingen 3 years, 5 months ago

This is getting beyond ridiculous. My sympathies are with the men and women who love each other, lesbians and gays, I mean, and have to wait this out, being told they can get married, and then no, they can't. It makes me want to scream. I imagine they want to also. Just get it settled people. Let them get married with no more playing with peoples lives.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 5 months ago

The right wing might be made up of unhappy marriages which is why they keep working to make people unhappy. Misery must love company......

These folks who dislike others soon much should resign from office and go directly to therapy.


Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 5 months ago

This is going to happen. No matter how much the Koch government of Kochland flails and flaunches, sooner or later the gay folks will have rights they have long deserved and been denied by religion-soaked doctrine. It may take some time, ad this distresses me greatly..

But the GOP swept the elections and they think that gives them the right to maintain their bigotry and hatred of those whose life style differs from their own miserable ingrained lives.

Terry Snell II 3 years, 5 months ago

The U.S. Supreme Court needs to step up to the plate and make a decision. No matter what side your on this needs to be settled. The 6th Circuit decision should be the key to getting it.

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