Arkansas Supreme Court stays ruling overturning same-sex marriage ban | Arkansas Blog

Friday, May 16, 2014

Arkansas Supreme Court stays ruling overturning same-sex marriage ban

Posted By on Fri, May 16, 2014 at 4:31 PM

click to enlarge NO TIME FOR SMILES: It was a happy day Saturday when Kristin Seaton and Jennifer Rambo received the first same-sex marriage license issued legally in Arkansas. News today will prevent similar scenes, at least for a while. - KAT WILSON
  • Kat Wilson
  • NO TIME FOR SMILES: It was a happy day Saturday when Kristin Seaton and Jennifer Rambo received the first same-sex marriage license issued legally in Arkansas. News today will prevent similar scenes, at least for a while.
At 4:30 p.m. today, with many of the justices at an out-of-state conference, the Arkansas Supreme Court issued a stay of Judge Chris Piazza's ruling last Friday that Arkansas law and constitutional bans on same-sex marriage violated the U.S. Constitution.

It was a one-sentence order without any elaboration granting motions by the state and four counties for a stay.

This will again end the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Arkansas. It's been an on-and-off process in a handful of counties since Saturday, with most of some 500 licenses issued in Pulaski County. Video above from Fox 16's David Goins shows one of the last ceremonies at the Pulaski County Courthouse.

Said a spokesman for Attorney General Dustin McDaniel:

As this office stated in its pleadings, a stay prevents confusion and uncertainty until the Arkansas Supreme Court decides this matter on appeal. The Court today made the right decision to issue a stay, as other courts across the country have done in similar circumstances.

Jack Wagoner, attorney for the plaintiffs, said he thought a strong case had been made to keep the ruling in place, but expected a stay. He said he didn't take it as an indication of the court's leaning on a final decision. He added that he'll be moving ahead in a couple of weeks with pleadings in a federal lawsuit also challenging the state bans.

Piazza's decision will now go through the appeal process. A record of the lower court case must be prepared. A briefing schedule must be set and probably oral arguments. The court takes a two-month recess each summer. Even with an expedited schedule, it's uncertain if the case can be decided this calendar year, when two of the current justices — Cliff Hoofman and Donald Corbin — will be replaced by Rhonda Wood and the winner of a race between Judge Robin Wynne and Tim Cullen. Typical there's about 2.5 months for briefing after a record and transcript is completed. Part of this record has already been completed and it's not an extensive record.  It conceivably could be completed by fall.

One question is whether the decision can be reached before the November election, when it could become prime political fodder. The Republican Party has long made opposition to same-sex marriage one of its bedrock campaign issues. National Democrats tend to favor marriage equality, but most leading Democratic candidates in Arkansas — including Gov. Mike Beebe and candidate Mike Ross — have said they favor the idea of marriage being between a man and woman. Sen. Mark Pryor and leading congressional candidates have said the same.

Both the plaintiffs in the marriage case — married couples and couples hoping to be married — and the state had argued that the likelihood of their prevailing on appeal was one key factor the court should consider in issuing a stay. Both argued irreparable harm if their motion was denied, though the state's showing on this point was slim — the possibility of different handling of licensing in counties and the possibility that, someday, licenses issued might be held to be invalid. Plaintiffs argued that these were not evidence of tangible harm, but continued denial of constitutional rights was tangible harm. Six counties were named defendants (Pulaski, Washington, Lonoke, White, Saline and Conway), along with state agencies that apply laws in ways discriminatory to married same-sex couples. Other counties not named in the case took the view that Piazza's ruling didn't apply to them absent a Supreme Court ruling. Marion County issued one license on Monday, then stopped.

The Arkansas Supreme Court years ago struck down criminal sodomy laws before the U.S. Supreme Court did, relying on the individual rights section of the state Constitution. It also invalidated a 2008 law aimed at preventing gay couples from adopting or being foster parents. More recently, it opened the door to child custody in a home with an unmarried same-sex couple. But court membership has changed since the major rulings and political pressure remains high in Arkansas on the side of discrimination against gay people, in both marriage and employment. Polls show a majority in Arkansas now favor civil unions and also show a decline in opposition to same-sex marriage, which was approved as a constitutional amendment in 2004 by 75 percent of voters. In 2004, it was opposed only in some liberal regions in Pulaski and Washington counties (not coincidentally where most marriage licenses have been issued this week.)

Marriage equality plaintiffs expected the stay. For now, they'll go back to the law books and Arkansas will return to the marital status quo. Indelible, though, are the photographs, video and written accounts of hundreds of happy people, tasting equality for themselves and their families for the first time, if only briefly.

Lawyers have said previously that a stay has no immediate impact on licenses issued during the last week. It does not invalidate it, it just suspends its further imposition.

I asked Carl Tobias, Williams Professor of Law at the University of Richmond, his thoughts on reading future action into today's ruling. He said "it seems to be a very preliminary procedural ruling that does not necessarily foreshadow the merits."

Tags: , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (27)

Showing 1-27 of 27

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-27 of 27

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Sunday and another open line

    Got anything for the open line?
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • But what about the Clintons? Last refuge of Trump, New York Times

    Trying to compare Donald Trump's reaction to the Russia investigation with Bill Clinton's dealings with Kenneth Starr should be a non-starter if the facts mattered. But these days — and to the New York Times — it ain't necessarily so.
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • Football is king, Bentonville edition

    Good analysis in the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette of an unannounced Bentonville School Board vote last week to put $2 million into a football stadium for West High School despite board assurances in last May's tax election that no money would go to a football stadium.
    • Jul 23, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Al Gore remembers Dale Bumpers

    Former Vice President Al Gore, a former U.S. Senate colleague of Dale Bumpers, sent a statement on Bumpers' death Friday:
    • Jan 3, 2016
  • Trump immigration protest at LR: Quick and fierce

    It was not even 24 hours ago that Sophia Said, director of the Interfaith Center; City Director Kathy Webb and others decided to organize a protest today of Donald Trump's executive order that has left people from Muslim countries languishing in airports or unable to come to the US at all — people with visas, green cards,a  post-doc graduate student en route to Harvard, Google employees abroad, families. I got the message today before noon; others didn't find out until it was going on. But however folks found out, they turned out in huge numbers, more than thousand men, women and children, on the grounds of the state Capitol to listen to speakers from all faiths and many countries.
    • Jan 29, 2017
  • In Little Rock, Marco Rubio sells American exceptionalism

    This is Rubio's axiomatic answer to Donald Trump's insistence that he and he alone will Make America Great Again: America is the greatest, always has been.
    • Feb 22, 2016

People who saved…

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Sunday and another open line

    • A new word for today--"Whatabouism" Yes, there is even a Wikipedia entry that describes it…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Sunday and another open line

    • Biggins : I'm sure your golden retriever was at the hospital to do the lab…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Sunday and another open line

    • I don't know how to arrange it but it's touching to think that anyone of…

    • on July 23, 2017



© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation