Thursday, December 6, 2012
The Supreme Court is set to add another case on same-sex marriage to its docket. A Nevada law was challenged by eight same-sex couples on 14th Amendment equal protection grounds in Coalition for the Protection of Marriage v. Beverly Sevcik. The lawyer group that is defending the law has asked the Supreme Court to to hear the merits of the case before the Ninth Circuit has the opportunity to hear the case. What makes this case different is the issue that has been presented for the court to decide. The question presented before the court is "must a state allow gays and lesbians to get married?" Of all the cases presented before the court, none of the cases have presented the basic issue on same-sex on whether there is a fundamental right to marry.
The federal district judge, Robert C. Jones, that handled the case affirmed Nevada's ban on same-sex marriage, concluding that past precedent states that there is no fundamental right to same-sex marriage and that the law served a legitimate purpose in protecting the institution of marriage. The judge based his ruling in part on the 1972 Minnesota case, Baker v. Nelson. In that case, the court indirectly upheld Minnesota's statute that limited the right to marriage to different-sex couples. The Supreme Court dismissed the appeal made by the petitioner for lack of a federal question. Judge Jones also determined that if even the courts were to judge the case of the merits, the statute would be able to pass the constitutional muster.
See Lyle Denniston, Court Gets New, More Basic Marriage Case, SCOTUS Blog, Dec. 5, 2012.
Special thanks to Brian Cohan (Attorney at Law, Law Offices of Brian J. Cohan, P.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.