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Monday September 8 – Friday, September 12, 2014 Why courts mattered in the issues you care most about this week! Marriage Equality This week, federal courts have been under pressure to settle the issue of marriage equality. As the courts grapple with the challenge, many have called on the Supreme Court to hear the arguments. Following a litany of district court trials on marriage equality bans across the nation, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on the issue in San Francisco. The trial is preceded by the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act in US v. Windsor. The 9th Circuit covers western states, specifically: Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. Will the Supreme Court consider pending marriage equality cases from five states: Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin? The justices will assemble on September 29th for a private conference to review 7 petitions – 3 from Virginia, and one from the other four states. The cases consider two constitutional questions: do states have power to refuse to allow same-sex couples to marry, and do states have power to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states? If the Court does decide to grant review, a final decision could be expected next summer. Healthcare As the entire D.C. Circuit court of Appeals will be meeting to re-hear the arguments on the Affordable Care Act’s exchange subsidies in Halbig v. Burwell, Jennifer Causor’s life hangs in the balance. Jenn suffers from cystic fibrosis, a disease causing her lungs to constantly fill up with mucus, and relies on Obamacare so that her insurers cover her expensive preexisting condition. The Halbig lawsuit seeks to undermine the health exchanges set up by Obamacare and eliminate subsidies that help pay for insurance. Thus,...
The U.S. Supreme Court declined a request to halt a federal judge’s order striking down Oregon’s ban on marriage equality. Since U.S. District Judge Michael McShane’s order, on May 19, Oregon has issued hundreds of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) asked the high court to halt marriage equality while the organization tried to intervene in the case and appeal Judge McShane’s ruling The group filed its request with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy who receives emergency requests from that particular region of the country. Without comment or recorded the dissent, the justices denied the request after Kennedy referred it to the full court.
A federal judge blocked a motion on Wednesday by the National Organization for Marriage to intervene on behalf of Oregon’s marriage equality ban. As Oregon’s attorney general, Ellen F. Rosenblum, has decided not to defend the law, it will now face its challenge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon undefended. Rosenblum said in a statement this year, “Marriage is the way that loving couples become family to each other and to their extended families, and there is no good reason to exclude same-sex couples from marriage in Oregon, or from having their marriages recognized here.”
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 27 month solitary confinement of an inmate in an Oregon state prison was an “atypical and significant hardship.” Plaintiff Joshua Robert Brown requested review of his status eight times and was repeatedly denied. Though the three-judge panel agreed that his being held and denied the opportunity to challenge his status in solitary confinement potentially violated his due process rights, the state corrections department and officials have immunity. Brown is left with no recourse. The panel explained, “Although we conclude that a lengthy confinement without meaningful review may constitute atypical and significant hardship, our case law has not previously so held, and we cannot hold defendants liable for the violation of a right that was not clearly established at the time the violation occurred.”
Oregon Attorney Ellen Rosenblum said in a federal court filing Tuesday that the state is “prepared to implement” marriages for gay and lesbian couples if U.S. District Judge Michael McShane strikes down the Oregon constitutional prohibition against same-sex marriages. Rosenblum, who announced last month that she would not defend the state’s same-sex marriage ban, filed a 35-page brief laying out her reasoning for why the state ban violates the federal constitutional rights of gay and lesbian couples. Rosenblum’s brief concludes: If this Court determines that Oregon’s prohibition on same-sex marriage violates plaintiffs’ rights under the federal constitution, the state is prepared to implement that ruling.