SCOTUS Justice Sotomayor asks same-sex couples to weigh in on Utah’s marriage recognition stay request

Posted at 5:24 PM, Jul 16, 2014
and last updated 2014-07-17 11:23:32-04

UPDATE: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has asked the ACLU to respond to Utah’s stay request by 10 a.m. Friday. The ACLU told FOX 13 it anticipated filing a response by the end of Thursday.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals set a Monday deadline for a decision on Utah’s request for a stay. If the U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t grant it, it is anticipated the state will have to recognize same-sex marriages performed in Utah after Amendment 3 was overturned.


SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Attorney General’s Office filed an emergency request with the U.S. Supreme Court over recognizing same-sex marriages performed here.

The request was sent late Wednesday to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who oversees the 10th Circuit Courts, of which Utah is part of. It asks her to grant their request for a stay, halting orders that the state be forced to recognize more than 1,200 same-sex marriages performed after Amendment 3 was overturned last year.

In the filing, special assistant attorney general Gene Schaerr refers to the marriages as “interim marriages” and writes that the nation’s top court is likely to take the Amendment 3 case and rule in Utah’s favor.

“Utah believes it is highly likely — and certainly likely enough to warrant a stay — that at least four Justices will vote to grant certiorari if the district court’s decision is affirmed, and that at least five Justices will agree with Judge Kelly that the district court’s sweeping legal conclusions ‘simply cannot be’ — and emphatically are not — ‘the law.’ Indeed, the district court’s misunderstanding of the legal status of a law subject to a non-final decision of unconstitutionality is so fundamentally erroneous, and arises in a context of such importance to all of the states and to this Court, that a summary reversal could well be in order,” he wrote.

Read the filing by the Utah Attorney General’s Office here:

More than 1,200 same-sex couples married after Amendment 3 was overturned by U.S. District Court Judge Robert Shelby in December 2013. The state went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to ask for a stay. It was granted after 17 days of marriages.

A detailed account of same-sex marriages performed in Utah's 29 counties during the 17-days it was allowed.

A detailed account of same-sex marriages performed in Utah’s 29 counties during the 17-days it was allowed.

After that, Governor Gary Herbert ordered state agencies not to recognize the marriages, nor provide benefits to the couples — such as adoptions and tax filings (although the Utah Tax Commission did allow married same-sex couples to file joint 2013 tax returns).

Four married same-sex couples and the ACLU sued. A federal judge ordered the state to recognize the marriages. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld that decision.

The federal appeals court also recently ruled that Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The state is in the midst of preparing to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their appeal of that decision.