Analysis: SCOTUS Asked by Both Parties to Review Utah Marriage Case

In an unusual move, a team of lawyers arguing for marriage rights for three same-sex Utah couples is joining a brief authored by Utah officials asking for the Supreme Court to accept the case for review, Adam Liptak reports for The New York Times.

“It is quite uncommon for the winning side to urge the justices to hear an appeal, but there have been a handful of notable exceptions recently,” he writes. “One of them was the Hobby Lobby case, in which a chain of craft stores that had won in the appeals court nonetheless urged the justices to hear the government’s appeal and ultimately won in the Supreme Court, too.”

He goes on to describe the various criteria that the justices evaluate when deciding to grant certiorari, including whether a lower court decision strikes down a state law or constitutional provision, whether they have intervened in a case in this legal area in the past, and whether there are conflicting decisions among various lower courts. Liptak explains that the Utah case currently meets all except the last of these standards.

Iowa Leader Bars Challenge to Gay Marriage Ruling

Iowa’s Senate majority leader says he will not support any legislative challenge to a state Supreme Court ruling upholding gay marriage in his state, effectively killing any attempt by some lawmakers to intervene.

According to an Associated Press article, the refusal by Senator Michael Gronstal leaves gay marriage opponents few immediate options for overturning the high court by amending the state’s constitution. One possibility is to invite voters to seek a state constitution convention in 2010. The article said that voters are asked every 10 years in the general election ballot if they want to hold such a convention.

Unlike California, where voters passed a constitutional amendment after the state Supreme Court upheld gay marriage, Iowa has no provision for amending the constitution through ballot measures.

Despite Gronstal’s statement, the Iowa ruling continues to stir dissent. According to the Associated Press article, Rep. Dwayne Alons said, “The people of this state should have a say.” And in another article, former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich said the decision to allow same-sex marriage in Iowa was “outrageously wrong” and demonstrated “judicial arrogance.”

To learn more, see this previous Gavel Grab posting.

New President of Conference of Chief Justices

Last week, at their annual conference in Anchorage, Alaska, the Conference of Chief Justices elected Chief Justice Margaret Marshall of Massachusetts to be the new president according to Legal Blog Watch.

A native South African, Justice Marshall is most noted for writing the opinion that legalized Same-Sex marriages in Massachusetts in 2003.

The Conference of Chief Justices is made up of the  highest judicial officers in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, the Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the territories of American Samoa, Guam and the Virgin Islands. The group was founded in 1949 in order to, as their website states:

Provide an opportunity for the highest judicial officers of the states to meet and discuss matters of importance in improving the administration of justice, rules and methods of procedure, and the organization and operation of state courts and judicial systems, and to make recommendations and bring about improvements on such matters.

The organization was formed by the Justice at Stake partner, the National Center for State Courts, and in the past has  passed an important resolution on judicial selection.

Calif. Justices Host Forum

Hoping to head off a possible surge in campaign politics, California Chief Justice Ron George is hosting a forum in Sacramento today on preserving fair and impartial courts.

Citing high-cost campaigns that have shaken public confidence in other states’ court systems, Chief Justice George has brought together two former California governors, Ohio’s chief justice, academics, bar leaders and others. California’s Supreme Court also was recently placed in the national limelight, with a ruling that allows same-sex marriages.

To learn more about concerns in California, see the following article on Another article on California justices was cited in a July 11 Gavel Grab posting.

You can also find a New York Times article on campaign funding and Ohio’s Supreme Court, as well as Wisconsin television ads in last spring’s judicial races.

California Marriage Equality and Attacks on the Courts

In 2004, the State Supreme Court of California ordered the city and county of San Francisco to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and said that it would consider in a separate legal action whether California’s restriction of marriage to different-sex couples violates the state’s constitution. Lambda Legal, the National Center of Lesbian Rights and the ACLU promptly filed a separate lawsuit against the state to win the right to marry for same-sex couples throughout California. Read more…

1/31/08: New Folks in Missouri's Race for the Courts; McCain Appointing Liberals?; Amicus Brief Filed in Iowa

The irony impaired opponent of the “Missouri Court Plan”– Show Me Progress
A new player in the battle for the Missouri judiciary.

Liberty Counsel Files Brief at Iowa Supreme Court to Protect Traditional Marriage– Life, Liberty, and Family
The Liberty Counsel are set to have a fight in Iowa’s courts over same-sex marriage.

McCain would appoint liberal judges to the Supreme Court– Hillbilly White Trash
First, yes the blog is called Hillbilly White Trash. Secondly, their post is about the reaction Senator John McCain’s statements on who he would appoint to the Federal Courts.

Pioneering Blackwater Protesters Given Secret Trial and Criminal Conviction– The Hufffington Post
Blackwater and the justice. Or lack of justice. Interesting read.

1/22/08: Medina's Not Under Fire Anymore; Recusal in Delaware; Burke Returns Campaign Money Back

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke to Return Most of Her Campaign Contributions – News Alert
Blog post discussing Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke returning most her campaign contribution money back to her supporters. Burke has been collecting money for a race in which no one has filed candidacy against her since last summer.

Iowa Supreme Court Accords Respect to Second-Parent Adoptions – To Form a More Perfect Union: Marriage Equality News
More analysis of the Iowa Supreme Court ruling on Same-Sex, second parent adoptions. This may be an indicator of what is to come on the Supreme Court’s case on same-sex marriage in Iowa, which is to be argued later this year.

Supreme Court Addresses Judicial Recusal Standard – Delaware Commercial and Corporate Litigation blog
Judicial recusal standards was decided in front of the Delaware Supreme Court. This blog has the opinion in the post.

Indictment Against Texas Supreme Court Justice Is Dismissed – Bob Kraft is P.I.S.S.D.
The indictment against Supreme Court Justice David Medina and his wife is thrown out of court. This post provides more information on the issue.