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A Trio of Gay Marriage Cases Seek SCOTUS Review

By William Peacock, Esq. | Last updated on

We jokingly handicapped the race a few weeks ago, but man, it's like these states really are racing to be the first in line on the first day of proceedings at First Street.

As predicted, the first state to get an appeals court judgment against its ban, Utah, has filed its petition for certiorari. It was quickly joined by its fellow Tenth Circuit-er, Oklahoma, and by Virginia, which recently had its ban wiped out by the Fourth Circuit.

Here's how the three states shake out:

Utah: Filed Tuesday

Surprising no one, Utah filed its petition for certiorari with the High Court on Tuesday. The only thing surprising was how quickly they completed their paperwork: It wasn't due until September 23, reports the Deseret News. 

The petition urges the Court to take the case, arguing that lower courts need no more time to work things out on their own.

"It comes down to this: thousands of couples are unconstitutionally being denied the right to marry, or millions of voters are being disenfranchised of their vote to define marriage," the state wrote.

Oklahoma Isn't Sooner, but It'll Get There

On Friday, attorneys for Tulsa County Clerk Sally Howe Smith announced that they will seek review directly from the U.S. Supreme Court, rather than seek en banc review in the Tenth Circuit.

Lyle Denniston, writing for SCOTUSblog, notes that the Utah case stands a better chance at a cert. grant, as the Court typically shows more respect to state governments, rather than individual officials.

Virginia Set to File on Friday

If Oklahoma doesn't hurry, however, it might be passed by Virginia, which wrote in a Fourth Circuit filing that it would be submitting its own request for certiorari on Friday, not even two weeks after a Fourth Circuit panel ruled against that state's ban. (h/t to SCOTUSblog)

Much like Oklahoma, Virginia's ban is being defended by county clerks rather than state officials, which could decrease chances of a cert. grant.

All Set for the Big Fall Conference?

Every fall, the Supreme Court clerks plow though thousands of cert. petitions, trimming the docket for the massive fall conference. All three states could have petitions in the pile by then if the appellees (the individuals challenging the state' bans on same-sex marriage) file their responses in a similarly expeditious manner.

If so, and if the Court grants cert. (it seems extremely likely at this point), then the cases could be argued and decided this term, quicker than anyone expected after the Court's punting of the issue in Perry only 16 months ago.

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