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Marriage Equality

Supreme Court Will Consider Additional Marriage Cases

Supreme Court Will Consider Additional Marriage Cases


The U.S. Supreme Court will consider taking up four marriage cases that saw bans on same-sex marriage upheld in Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan, and Kentucky.

The nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether to hear marriage equality cases from four additional states during their first conference of the new year, reports SCOTUSblog.

On January 9, the Supreme Court will hold its first conference of 2015, a private meeting where the justices review some of the cases before the court and could decide which, if any, cases will move forward to oral argument. The justices are not required to announce any formal decision following the conference, though the meeting generally results in an announcement of which cases will be granted a writ of certiorari (the formal term for cases granted review at the Supreme Court) and which will see that request denied, which makes a lower court ruling the final decision in a given case.

Earlier this month, the court announced that it would distribute a marriage case out of Louisiana for consideration during the January 9 conference, and today, it added marriage cases from Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan, and Ohio to the schedule for that same conference, according to SCOTUSblog. If a majority of the justices vote in favor of granting review to any (or all) of the cases from those four states, oral arguments would likely be scheduled during the court's current term, which ends in early July, at the latest.

Those four states each saw voter-approved marriage bans upheld by the federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in November -- the first federal appellate court to determine that bans on same-sex marriage did not violate the U.S. Constitution. Attorneys representing the same-sex couples who filed suit in each state appealed the Sixth Circuit's decision, asking the Supreme Court to decide the question of legal marriage equality once and for all.

Although the Sixth Circuit found in favor of the states defending their bans on marriage equality, attorneys representing Ohio and Kentucky also asked the Supreme Court to review that decision, agreeing with the plaintiffs that the issue needs to be decided by the Supreme Court. Michigan officials waived their right to file a response to the appeal by same-sex couples in the state, notes SCOTUSblog. Tennessee officials, meanwhile, asked the Supreme Court to reject the appeal and let the Sixth Circuit's ruling in favor of the state's marriage ban stand.

"FreedomOhio is excited that the Court will consider offering Ohioans the same legal protections that all couples and their families deserve," said Ian James, the cofounder and executive director state's largest LGBT equality organization, in a statement today. "We will continue to energize and encourage Ohioans in pursuit of this goal, and we hope that 2015 will be a monumental year for equality."

The Ohio case that the court will consider, Obergefell et al. v Hines, seeks recognition for same-sex couples married out of state, specifically in the case of Jim Obergefell, a Cincinnati resident who sued the state for the right to be listed as the surviving spouse of his late husband, John Arthur. The two men were married in Maryland last year, shortly before Arthur died of complications connected to his amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. A federal district judge ruled that Ohio had to recognize the couple's marriage on Arthur's death certificate, but the Sixth Circuit overturned that ruling.

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