According to the Human Rights Campaign, today the U.S. Supreme Court distributed a Louisiana marriage equality case for its January 9, 2015 conference. The justices will deliberate whether to take up Robicheaux v. George on appeal after a federal district court upheld the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples in September of this year.
In response, HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow issued the following statement:
“There’s no question that the U.S. Supreme Court must decide the issue once and for all. The existing patchwork of marriage laws across the country creates immense challenges for same-sex couples who simply want a fair shot at protecting and providing for themselves and their families. A strong majority of Americans, along with dozens of federal courts across the country, agree that states should not be able to continue discriminating against couples who wish to have their relationships recognized as valid under the law.”
Along with the Robicheaux case, the U.S. Supreme Court has pending before it marriage cases out of four states from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, after a three-judge panel of that court overturned lower court rulings that had found Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee’s same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional. The Sixth Circuit ruling marked the first time a federal appeals court ruled in favor of state marriage bans.
Previously, the Supreme Court declined to take up challenges to rulings from the Fourth, Seventh and Tenth Circuits, which all found state marriage bans unconstitutional. Later the Ninth Circuit also ruled against state marriage bans. Today same-sex couples can legally marry in 35 states and Washington, D.C.
The Supreme Court is under no obligation as to which case or cases – if any – it chooses to hear on appeal, although the loss in the Sixth Circuit creates a circuit court split, increasing the likelihood the Supreme Court takes up the issue of marriage.