Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy halted a decision Wednesday that would have allowed same sex couples to marry in Idaho.
The Justice issued a one-page order requiring the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to delay a Tuesday ruling striking down Idaho’s same-sex marriage ban and calling them unconstitutional until either Kennedy or the full Supreme Court weighed in. Justice Kennedy’s order came in response to an emergency filing from Idaho state officials, who argue their case is unique enough to warrant the involvement of the full Supreme Court. Although the Ninth Circuit Court ruling also applied to Nevada, the state has not filed an appeal. Now, same sex couples in Idaho still cannot legally obtain marriage licenses.
The Supreme Court Monday elected not to take up cases concerning marriage equality in five states that were left pending before the court. Some legal analysts expected the decision, citing the unity of the lower courts on the decision to strike down bans on gay marriage. State officials in Idaho, however, said the content of their argument isn’t about whether states can ban same-sex marriage. According to SCOTUSBlog, they’re asking the Court to “clarify the constitutional standard that is to be used in judging laws that are claimed to discriminate against gays, lesbians, and transgender people.” State officials said the lower courts have used different standards to support a ban of same-sex marriage. The Ninth Circuit applied a “heightened scrutiny” standard, but six other federal appeals courts did not.
Lawyers representing same sex couples have until Thursday night to file a response to Idaho’s emergency plea request.
Media Resources: Supreme Court of the United States Order 10/8/14; Feminist Newswire 10/8/14; SCOTUSBlog 10/8/14