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Same Sex Marriage, Amish Beard Cutting, New Trial for Death Row Inmate

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on June 25, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The Sixth Circuit is seeing a lot action lately on the same sex marriage front, with all four states in the circuit facing appeals on the issue. As the Sixth Circuit will join the national debate on same sex marriage, we also have other cases making progress though the courts related to hate crimes and a death row inmate's attempt at a second chance.

Read on for details ...

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Same Sex Marriage Appeals

The Sixth Circuit has decided to hear appeals, dealing with four different state laws related to same sex marriage bans, on the same day, reports the Rochester-Rochester Hills Patch. Though the cases are different, they all address the fundamental issue of the legality of same sex marriage bans. The cases involve Kentucky, Tennessee, Michigan and Ohio laws.

The first circuit to hear multiple cases at one time, the Sixth Circuit joins four other circuits who have same sex marriage appeals pending, reports SCOTUSblog, and just today, the Tenth Circuit struck down Utah's same sex marriage ban, reports The Wall Street Journal. The hearing is scheduled for August 6, 2014.

Is Amish Beard Cutting a Federal Hate Crime?

Tomorrow, the Sixth Circuit will hear arguments in a case of Amish forcible beard cutting, a crime federal authorities are charging as a federal hate crime that is "religiously motivated." However, federal jurisdiction is premised on the Commerce Clause, rather than the Reconstruction Amendments, as "in cases of racially motivated violence," reports The Washington Post. While the district court glossed over the Commerce Clause issue, effectively making any crime that involves a weapon that crosses state lines a federal crime, we'll have to see whether the Sixth Circuit will be convinced.

New Trial for Death Row Inmate

Although Ohio has issued a moratorium on executions in light of recent developments highlighting problems with lethal injections, Jeronique Cunningham's execution, scheduled for November 17, 2015, falls outside the time specified by the state, reports The Blade. But that shouldn't be too much of an issue -- at least for now -- since the Sixth Circuit vacated a district court's denial of his habeas corpus petition.

The court remanded to the district court to stay-and-abey his petition while he "returns to state court to exhaust [his] claim" of juror bias, where he wants to present "evidence that at the time of the trial the jury foreperson had a relationship with the families of the murder victims and that this relationship impacted her impartiality."

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