Friday, November 14, 2014

Federal Appeals Court Judges Get A Talking Down To

Did you hear last week that U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit reversed the district court rulings on marriage equality in six cases from Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan, and Kentucky? In their ruling they said judges have no right to overturn laws, USA Today reported that…
The same-sex marriage movement lost its first major case in a federal appeals court Thursday after a lengthy string of victories, creating a split among the nation's circuit courts that virtually guarantees Supreme Court review.

The 2-1 ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit reversed district court rulings that had struck down gay marriage bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
The legal logic used in the ruling was that,
Sutton argued that appellate judges' hands are tied by a one-sentence Supreme Court ruling from 1972, which "upheld the right of the people of a state to define marriage as they see it." Last year's high court decision requiring the federal government to recognize legal same-sex marriages does not negate the earlier ruling as it applies to states where gay marriage is not legal, he said. The same reasoning was used by a federal district court judge in Puerto Rico last month.
[…]
"Not one of the plaintiffs' theories ... makes the case for constitutionalizing the definition of marriage and for removing the issue from the place it has been since the founding: in the hands of state voters," Sutton said.
Meanwhile in West Virginia LGBT Nation said the judge rebuffed 6th Circuit decision,
U.S. District Court Judge Robert C. Chambers ruled in a case brought by Lambda Legal in 2013 on behalf of three same-sex couples and the child of one couple.

In his opinion, Chambers also offered a critique of Thursday’s ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals which upheld marriage bans in Ohio, Michigan, Tennessee, and Kentucky, stating that the Sixth Circuit “fail[ed] to recognize the role of courts in the democratic process.”

“It is the duty of the judiciary to examine government action through the lens of the Constitution’s protection of individual freedom,” wrote Chambers. “Courts cannot avoid or deny this duty just because it arises during the contentious public debate that often accompanies the evolution of policy making throughout the states. Judges may not simultaneously find a right violated yet defer to an uncertain future remedy voluntarily undertaken by the violators.”
This will all end up in the Supreme Court and now with the Republicans in control of the Senate they get to approve the presidential nominations for the courts including any Supreme Court justices if there any vacancies.

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