Category Archives: Civil Rights

A quick thought on Kennedy’s emergency stay

Update 10/10: The stay has been lifted and application denied, without explanation. Marriages in Idaho are back on, and we’ll have to wait until some time in the future (never?) to settle the question of law described below.

Here’s something we’ll be following, although it doesn’t (yet) have a direct effect on the Hoosier state. Yesterday, Anthony Kennedy issued an emergency stay in Idaho’s marriage case.

You might wonder why he would do that, just two days after the Court rejected appeals from three other Circuits.

The reason may lie with how Idaho framed its petition, and if that’s the case, we are in for one hell of an important Supreme Court battle. Continue reading A quick thought on Kennedy’s emergency stay

Preaching state trooper could be in hot water

Lost in all of the marriage equality hullabaloo was this post over at ILB from Sunday night. It seems a state trooper pulled a woman, Ellen Bogan, over for making an illegal pass and used the opportunity to talk to her about Jesus.

According to the complaint, filed in the US District Court for Southern Indiana (read it at ILB), after the officer took her license and brought it back to her along with a warning ticket, “there was no reason to further prolong the stop.” However, the trooper, one Brian Hamilton, remained at the car and proceeded to inquire whether Bogan was from the area and whether she was a Christian. He then gave her religious literature and explained that Jesus had died for her sins.

At each stage, he asked her permission before continuing, but according to Bogan, because of the situation, she did not feel free to refuse.

Bogan is being represented by the ACLU of Indiana.

What the SCOTUS decision means

When the Supreme Court decided not to hear appeals from five states in three circuits regarding same-sex marriage bans, they in effect legalized same-sex marriage in those five states, as well as six others in the same circuits which have similar laws that have not yet been struck down. A majority of Americans now live in states where same-sex marriage is (or shortly will be) legal. Nate Silver and Allison McCann over at FiveThirtyEight have a breakdown.

Lyle Denniston over at SCOTUSblog has an in-depth discussion of what happened, why and what it means on a national level. It is well worth the read. Also, stay on top of things with the Indiana Law Blog, as well.

As for Indiana, when will we see marriage licenses issued? Certainly very soon. The 7th Circuit hasn’t yet made it official, but the Indiana AG is telling county clerks to be ready, as it could happen as early as today or tomorrow. Read the AG Office’s “Important Communication” to county clerks here.

What does the future hold? Well, the Supreme Court has left open the opportunity to revisit this issue, obviously. The Court is probably sitting at a 4-4 vote, with Anthony Kennedy the fence sitter. It’s possible that none of the other Justices wanted to hear the cases because they couldn’t be sure if he would be on their side or not. Not worth the gamble. However, when (and if) a Circuit Court rules in favor of a state ban, the disagreement among the Circuits will virtually guarantee that the Supreme Court will have to decide the issue. If they reverse course, and the bans are again allowed, some states – and in the current climate, Indiana may be one of them – will see same-sex marriages go from banned to not banned to banned again. Unfortunately, that leaves a lot of Hoosier couples in a precarious position. Having this issue decided once and for all was what most people – on either side of the debate – were hoping for.

Pence reinstated as marriage defendant

Judge Richard Young removed Governor Pence as a defendant in the marriage cases after buying Pence’s argument that he didn’t have the authority to actually enforce the marriage laws. After finding out that Pence purported to exercise exactly that authority, the Judge has put his name back on the file. File this under “Watch Out for Watchful Judges.”

Virginia same-sex marriages on hold

Not a huge surprise, but in a simple three-sentence order, the Court has put a stay on the 4th Circuit ruling to allow same-sex marriages in Virginia, pending a petition for certiorari. If the Court denies cert, the stay terminates and marriages can be performed immediately. If the Court grants cert, the stay will remain in place until the Court says otherwise.

Big day for marriage cases

We’ll have to wait a few more weeks (Aug. 26) for the hearing on Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban with the 7th Circuit, but that doesn’t mean things aren’t happening. Target is joining the growing list of companies supporting marriage equality by filing a brief with the court. Generally, companies are lining up in favor of same-sex marriage recognition for two reasons: it’s good PR, and they believe allowing same-sex marriages in states where they do business will help them attract better employees.

Meanwhile, the 6th Circuit is looking at the bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee right now. Shortly after the hearing is over, a link to the audio will be posted on the 6th Circuit’s website.

And SCOTUSblog updated late yesterday afternoon that both Utah and Virginia officials are wasting no time asking the Supreme Court to step in. Things are moving fast. Stay tuned.

Early Monday roundup 8/4

I took an early weekend, so I have a couple of things to catch up on. Most legally important news happens before Friday, but things do still happen. I might make it a regular habit to dump the stuff that slips through the cracks over the weekend on Monday morning.

First, same-sex marriage. The plaintiffs aren’t going to be given a lot of time in the Indiana/Wisconsin consolidated case to make their arguments. Meanwhile, a county clerk in Virginia is filing for cert with the Supreme Court on the marriage ban there.

With the Seventh Circuit case moving so quickly, it seems likely that the issue of same-sex marriage is going to be decided once and for all during the next Supreme Court term.

Next, health care. The issue of health subsidies for states using the federal exchange is also being pushed forward as fast as possible. Nothing new here, but I expect the Court to take this up right away, as well.

Looking ahead. Nothing much on the SCOTUS front, as the new term doesn’t start until the very end of September.  The Indiana Supreme Court starts hearing cases again just after Labor day.

However, there will be some interesting legal topics in the news this week. Definitely pay attention to the Toledo water crisis. As of this writing, the water was officially down to safe toxin levels(!), but mayor Collins wasn’t ready to lift the advisory on account of two “too close for comfort” results. We’re going to be talking a lot about the cause of the algal bloom, which is almost certainly directly related to farm fertilizer runoff (thanks to a heavy rain season). I suspect the end result on the legal front will be either 1) Ohio enacting new regulations and farmers suing or 2) Ohio not enacting many new regulations and environmental groups suing (or 3) both).

There is also one execution to watch for this week. There were three scheduled, but two have already been stayed. Michael Worthington is set to die Wednesday in Missouri. Worthington broke into his neighbor’s house while drunk and high, strangled her unconscious, raped her, and then beat her and strangled her to death when she woke up and tried to fight him off. Interestingly, he was sentenced to death despite pleading guilty, which is not something you see every day. After Joseph Wood appeared to suffer tremendously in a prolonged death in Arizona last month, all eyes will be on Missouri. I don’t think either the public or the Supreme Court has the political desire to ban executions outright, but if states prove that they are unable to kill people without torturing them (whether or not you blame it on the European Union), that sentiment might begin to shift in both cases.