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Will SCOTUS Summarily Affirm 9th Cir in Same-Sex Benefits Case?

By Robyn Hagan Cain on July 17, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Arizona is determined to be a fixture on the Supreme Court's schedule.

Last term, the state went to battle over its controversial immigration law. This year, Gov. Jan Brewer is asking the court to determine whether the state can eliminate health coverage for same-sex domestic partners of state and university employees, according to Fox News.

In 2009, Arizona passed a law that changed the definition of "dependent" and eliminated health-insurance coverage for same-sex partners of public employees, reports The Wall Street Journal. Employees sued, saying that the move was discriminatory. Arizona maintains that the law is constitutional.

Last year, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a district court order enjoining the law, finding that the law adversely affected a class of employees based on sexual orientation without furthering a justifiable state interest.

Though this appeal has received attention as one of several Supreme Court petitions raising equal protection claims for same-sex couples, it seems to be the most likely contender for summary affirmance.

If you followed California's Perry v. Brown -- the Prop 8 challenge -- you'll recall that Judge Stephen Reinhardt offered a narrow ruling that Prop 8 was unconstitutional under the 1996 Supreme Court case, Romer v. Evans. In Justice Anthony Kennedy's Romer ruling, the Court held that, after the gay community won marriage equality in Colorado, a law rescinding that right was unconstitutional.

The same logic could be applied to the Arizona benefits law.

What do you think? Will the Court summarily affirm the Ninth Circuit on same-sex benefits? Vacate Romer? Distinguish the current Arizona case? Deny certiorari?

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