The U.S. Supreme Court Monday rejected a petition from Louisiana seeking review of a case involving the state's ban on same-sex marriage, while not making any announcements on four additional marriage equality cases pending before the high court, according to SCOTUSblog.
The court took no action on four consolidated cases — regarding marriage bans in Ohio, Tennessee, Michigan, and Kentucky — currently pending before it, leaving open the possibility that the cases could be scheduled following the next private conference, set for Friday. Those cases were most recently heard in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which in November issued a ruling that broke with every other appellate court in the country and upheld marriage bans in all four states. Many court observers expect this departure from growing judicial consensus, known as a circuit split, to increase the chances that the Supreme Court will take up one or more of these cases, and ultimately determine whether bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.
The Louisiana case was unusual, as the same-sex couples who filed suit asked the Supreme Court to consider a district judge's antigay ruling before the case had been heard by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Granting review at this stage, a process known as certiorari before judgement, is uncommon, so it was "not surprising" that the Supreme Court declined to take up the Lousiana petition at this point, reports BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner.
As it happens, the appeal of the Louisiana case was actually heard by a three-judge panel at the Fifth Circuit courthouse in New Orleans on Friday — the same day the Supreme Court justices presumably decided to deny review to the Louisiana case. Although it's impossible to know how any court will rule, reporters inside the courtroom seemed cautiously optimistic that the ruling from the Fifth Circuit will be in favor of same-sex couples seeking the right to marry, overturning the district court's decision, which in September became the first federal court to uphold a state's ban on same-sex marriage.