WASHINGTON — Lawyers for Louisiana have joined with Michigan officials in asking the Supreme Court to resolve the question of whether states can ban same-sex couples from marrying.
In the state's response filed at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell argues that the justices should take the case because the state's "case squarely implicates a spiraling national controversy that has already nullified the marriage laws of over twenty States and spawned a four-to-one circuit split."
The filing came quickly, as the same-sex couple plaintiffs in the case challenging Louisiana's ban had only asked the Supreme Court to take up their case on Nov. 20.
Moreover, the response from Louisiana came before the responses to other petitions filed earlier by same-sex couples in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The Michigan response — also supporting Supreme Court review — was filed this past week.
The petitions from states other than Louisiana followed the ruling from the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on Nov. 6 upholding all four states' bans. The Louisiana petition was different, asking the Supreme Court to take up review of the case before the appeals court — the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals — issues a decision in the case, which is pending in the appeals court currently and is slated for arguments on Jan. 9.
"Louisiana agrees with petitioners that 'the decision below is uniquely appropriate for certiorari before judgment and consideration along with the Sixth Circuit ruling,'" the state's lawyers told the justices.
Lawyers for the couples in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee tell BuzzFeed News that they have not heard any updates from their respective states about the timing of those states' responses. It also is not known whether they, when they do file, will agree with Michigan and Louisiana in support of Supreme Court review. The responses, under the Supreme Court's rules, are due within 30 days of when the cases were entered on the court's docket — meaning Dec. 15 in the Ohio and Tennessee cases and Dec. 18 in the Kentucky case.
The timing of the filings matter, as lawyers for the same-sex couples have been pushing to see the justices take up the case in its current term, which would mean a decision by June 2015. In order to have a case heard this term, the court likely would need to accept one or more of the cases for review at its Jan. 9 conference. In order to be considered at the Jan. 9 conference, the petitions would need to be distributed on Dec. 23, which means they need to be completed before then. The court could consider whether to accept one or more of the cases before all of the petitions are ready, or it could wait until all of the petitions are distributed.
While the court denied review of cases from five states in October, it did so in cases in which the request before the court was to reverse a decision striking down the state's ban. It also came before there was any so-called "circuit split" on the issue — meaning, the appeals courts had reached different conclusions on the issue.
With the 6th Circuit decision, there is a circuit split, however, and advocates are hoping the court resolves the issue.