Marriage Equality Opponents Appeal Nevada Case to the Supreme Court

By Julie Bolcer

Originally published on December 06 2012 11:33 AM ET

Saying the case may present "the most nationally important and consequential issue to come before this Court in many years," the group defending the Nevada same-sex marriage ban asked for Supreme Court review although the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has yet to hear the case.

An appeal was filed Wednesday in the case, Coalition for the Protection of Marriage v. Beverly Sevcik, according to SCOTUSblog. The filing means that 11 petitions pertaining to marriage equality are now before the Supreme Court, although it is unclear whether the latest filing will affect the other 10 appeals scheduled to be considered by the justices in a private conference Friday.

Last month, U.S. District Chief Judge Robert Jones rejected an equal protection challenge brought by eight couples and upheld the ban passed by voters in 2002. He ruled that limiting marriage to a man and woman is a “legitimate state interest” because opening the right to same-sex couples would deter “a meaningful percentage of heterosexual persons” from marrying.  Jones found precedent in the 1972 Supreme Court decision in Baker v. Nelson, a case where the state supreme court found no constitutional right for same-sex couples to marry.

Plaintiffs have appealed to the Ninth Circuit, but the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage wants the Supreme Court to take up the issue now. The filing argued their case is “the only one that cannot be resolved without answering the fundamental issue” of whether a state must allow same-sex couples to marry. Petitioners said the question “may be the most nationally important and consequential issue to come before this Court in many years.”

According to SCOTUSblog, the petitioners framed the question as “whether the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause requires Nevada to change its definition of marriage from the union of a man and a woman to the union of two persons.”

Tara Borelli, the Lambda Legal staff attorney who is lead counsel for the plaintiffs, dismissed the filing as a “desperate move” that would not generate a response from the Supreme Court.

“This is nothing more than a desperate move by our opponents,” she said in a statement to Prop 8 Trial Tracker. “This case just arrived at the Ninth Circuit (the appeal was docketed yesterday), and there’s no reason for the Supreme Court to weigh in at this stage. Instead we think the Supreme Court will let the case develop in the Ninth Circuit, as is done in the ordinary course.”