Federal Judge Keeps Alabama Class-Action Marriage Case Alive
Judge Callie Granade denied a request from Alabama officials to dismiss a case in which advocates are seeking to take marriage equality statewide.
WASHINGTON — The ongoing feud between Alabama and federal courts over the state's ban on same-sex couples' marriages continued Friday, as a federal judge kept alive advocates' attempt to take marriage equality statewide.
U.S. District Court Callie Granade has not ruled on the underlying class-action request — which would apply Granade's ruling that Alabama's marriage ban is unconstitutional to probate judges, who grant marriage licenses, statewide — but she refused on Friday to grant state and local officials' request to dismiss the amended class-action complaint.
It was not clear whether Granade — who has been squaring off with Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore since her initial February ruling striking down Alabama's ban — intends to rule on the case before the U.S. Supreme Court issues its decision in its pending marriage cases.
Granade was clear, though, that she did not view the Alabama Supreme Court's action to stop probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as limiting her from reaching a contrary conclusion in the pending federal case.
"Defendants have not shown that any abstention doctrine applies to this case," Granade wrote Friday, a doctrine that refers to times when a federal court chooses to stay out of a case voluntarily even though it might have jurisdiction to decide an issue. "Moreover, this Court's jurisdiction in this case and this Court's finding that Alabama's marriage sanctity laws are unconstitutional predate the state court mandamus action."
The ruling on the dismissal requests comes days before the U.S. Supreme Court is due to hear arguments in marriage cases out of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.