All 6th Circuit marriage plaintiffs will appeal directly to Supreme Court

When the three-judge panel at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals announced on November 6 that it would not overturn marriage bans in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan, each of those plaintiffs were left with two options: seek an en banc review, meaning they would ask the entire Sixth Circuit Justices to hear the appeal, or apply for certiorari, meaning they would appeal directly to the Supreme Court of the United States.

At a conference call today among all the plaintiffs’ attorneys, it was decided they would all appeal directly to the Supreme Court.

“Given the significance of the issue,” Abby Rubenfeld told O&AN early Friday afternoon, “the reality that it will end up in the Supreme Court ultimately, and the harms that all of our clients are suffering each day that their marriages are not recognized, we want to get to the Supreme Court sooner than later.”

Had even one of the plaintiffs chosen the en banc option, it had the potential to slow the process down for everyone. The Supreme Court would have been likely to delay hearing these cases until the Sixth Circuit decided whether it would hear the en banc case, or cases.

According to BuzzFeed, lawyers for the Michigan and Ohio plaintiffs were immediately prepared to appeal directly to the Supreme Court as of Thursday afternoon, upon learning of the Sixth Circuit’s decision, while lawyers representing the Kentucky and Tennessee plaintiffs had not made a decision. To clarify, Rubenfeld said, they had made the decision but weren't prepared to share it just yet.

"We were just a little more hesitant to commit so quickly," she told O&AN. "But it just makes sense. It's going to end up in the Supreme Court regardless. We don't want to put it off another year. We need justice now."

The urgency of today’s conference call, and the decision to file the appeal quickly, means there is a likelihood the Supreme Court could hear these cases – and render a final decision regarding marriage equality that would be binding nationwide – during this current term.

“We hope to file within two weeks, and hopefully sooner,” said Rubenfeld, “so that we can still be on the docket for this term, which means resolution by June 30, 2015.”




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