HRC Blog

Utah Plaintiffs Agree Marriage Case Should be Heard by Supreme Court

The plaintiffs in a federal court challenge against Utah’s ban on marriage equality and the state officials defending it agree on one thing: the Supreme Court of the United States should take up the case.

Today lawyers for the three couples in the case, known as Kitchen v. Herbert, announced they will ask the Court to hear Utah’s appeal of the Tenth Circuit ruling that struck down the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples.  Earlier in the week Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes formally petitioned the high court to take up the case.

“Now is the time for the Supreme Court to bring certainty to this fundamental civil rights issue of our time,” Peggy A. Tomsic, a lawyer for the couples, told the New York Times

The plaintiffs are represented by private attorneys in Utah, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and Neal Katyal of the lawfirm Hogan Lovells.  Katyal served as Acting Solicitor General of the United States after the postion was vacated when President Obama nominated Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.

NCLR executive director Kate Kendell told the Associated Press that it is vital that the justices weigh in about whether state same-sex marriage bans violate the Constitution to settle the matter.

Kitchen is one of three marriage cases to reach the U.S. Supreme Court so far this year.  The Tenth Circuit ruled in another marriage case – Bishop v. Smith – of Oklahoma – that bans on marriage equality are unconstitutional.  And the Fourth Circuit struck down Virginia’s marriage ban in Bostic v. Schaefer

The Supreme Court is under no obligation as to which case or cases – if any – it choses to hear on appeal.   However, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg recently told reporters the Court will not “duck” a marriage case.  "I think the court will not do what they did in the old days when they continually ducked the issue of miscegenation," Ginsburg said. "If a case is properly before the court, they will take it."

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