Dalila Ali Rajah
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Florida AG Asks State Supreme Court to Decide Marriage Now

Florida AG Asks State Supreme Court to Decide Marriage Now

After failing to effectively defend Florida's marriage ban in five separate court cases, Republican attorney general Pam Bondi now wants her state's Supreme Court to step in and rule on marriage equality once and for all. 

"That is unquestionably an important issue, and the Plaintiffs, the State, and all citizens deserve a definion the legality oftive answer," Bondi's staff wrote Monday in a filing to Florida's Third District Court of Appeal, according to the Miami Herald. "Until recently, the issue was squarely before the United States Supreme Court, and it appeared that a definitive answer was coming. … Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court decided not to answer the question."

That isn't technically true, as the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last week to let lower court rulings stand in five states has the legal effect of finalizing those pro-equality rulings as presiding law in the circuits covered by those courts. Indeed, the Supreme Court's nondecision resulted in a wave of states embracing the freedom to marry, bringing the total tally to 29 states that now have marriage equality, with that number set to rise to 30 on Wednesday, when same-sex couples in Idaho can legally wed

Bondi's filing indicates a marked change in tone from remarks she made in August, when she suggested that state courts should defer to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on the matter. 

But absent a definitive ruling from the nation's highest court, "Florida’s courts will therefore need to resolve the issue without further United States Supreme Court guidance," Bondi wrote in Monday’s filing. "Because there are cases pending in multiple districts, and because this is an issue of great public importance that now warrants immediate Florida Supreme Court review, the State respectfully suggests pass-through certification [which allows a case to be expedited to the state Supreme Court, bypassing lower courts]."

Monday's filing with Florida's Third District Court of Appeal regards two challenges to the state's ban on same-sex marriage, both of which saw pro-equality rulings in lower courts, then were consolidated into one case on appeal. Bondi not only provided the defense in those since-consolidated cases but also defended existing state law in three other regional cases taking aim at Florida's ban — each time making unsuccessful arguments that saw state judges strike down Florida's voter-approved ban on five separate occasions. A federal judge arrived at the same conclusion — that Florida's ban violates the U.S. Constitution's promise of Equal Protection and Due Process — in August.

Bondi is a Republican running for reelection in a heated race against Democratic candidate George Sheldon. The twice-divorced attorney general has consistently argued in state and federal court that Florida's ban on same-sex marriage is beneficial for children, claiming that opposite-sex parents are optimal for raising children in "stable and enduring family units."

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