Maybe the Supremes meant it when they said that marriage was a state issue.
If they did, a lot of federal judges around the country didn’t get the memo. It’s old hat by now, the steady click, click, click of dominoes falling as one federal judge after another overturns state laws defining marriage as between one man and one woman. This action has long seemed to turn statements made by the Supreme Court that marriage should be defined by the states and that the feds should stay out of it on their head.
The Supreme Court took the position that marriage is a state rather than a federal issue as part of their reasoning for overturning DOMA.
Whenever a lower court rules on something, the Supremes have a number of options. By far the simplest course of action in the case of the Virginia ruling would have been to let it stand. However, they have granted a stay. This is the third time they’ve done this.
What does it mean?
I wish I could tell you, but I don’t know. Maybe the Court meant it when it said that marriage was a state matter. If they did, these federal judges are overstepping. On the other hand, maybe they will use the occasion to rule in favor of gay marriage. Or, perhaps, they are taking small exceptions to parts of particular rulings. The Virginia case in particular may have been given a stay because of the high-handed way that the judicial panel tried to do an end run around the right to appeal.
In case you didn’t know, that’s how all tough fights are eventually won.
From the Christian Science Monitor:
WASHINGTON — The US Supreme Court issued a stay Wednesday that keeps in place a ban on same-sex marriages in Virginia until after the high court has had an opportunity to consider the issue.
The high court action maintains the status quo in Virginia until the case is ultimately resolved by the justices. In addition, it sends a clear signal to other appeals courts and federal judges across the country that the Supreme Court expects them to issue similar stays in future cases.
… In the Virginia case, the action means the state’s requirement that marriage be limited to a union between one man and one woman will remain in place while the court considers whether to take up legal challenges to same-sex marriage bans in Virginia and other states.
The Supreme Court has twice before issued orders that federal appeals court decisions concerning same-sex marriages must be put on hold pending high court review. Wednesday’s action is consistent with those earlier moves.
The latest stay order came in response to a July 28 decision by the Fourth US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond. The appeals court panel voted 2 to 1 to strike down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage. The court then refused to postpone its ruling to allow time for an appeal to the Supreme Court.