WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court did not grant review in any new cases on Friday as gay rights activists eagerly awaited news that it might consider a new round of cases challenging states’ ability to ban same-sex marriage.
SCOTUSblog reports the Court’s next chance to issue any order on those cases will be at 9:30 a.m. Monday, with the release of a lengthy list of actions on new cases.
If no action on the five marriage cases comes then, the cases are likely to be rescheduled for a Conference next Friday.
The Court last considered a group of appeals filed by same-sex couples at the start of the current Term, and chose on October 6 to bypass all five cases. At that time, there was no current split among federal appeals courts on the constitutionality of state bans on same-sex marriage or on official recognition of already existing same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.
Since then, however, a split has developed with the November decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, upholding bans in the four states in its geographic region.
Appeals from the Sixth Circuit ruling are now pending at the Court, along with an appeal from a federal trial judge’s ruling upholding a ban in Louisiana. Those are the five cases the Justices were scheduled to examine at the first Conference after returning from a winter recess.
Hours after that Conference had ended, the Court issued a few new orders, but it did not accept the same-sex marriage cases for review, or any other cases on other questions.
Almost no one expects the Justices to deny review in the new round of same-sex marriage cases, because of the clear split in authority on that question among the federal appeals courts.
Also Friday, three southern states took their stands against same-sex marriage before a federal appellate court with a legacy of pushing Deep South conservatives out of their comfort zones on civil rights.
Lawyers for same-sex couples urged a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in New Orleans to strike down gay marriage bans in Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Observers who sat in on those hearings sensed that the panel was leaning toward striking down those state bans.
There is no timetable for the 5th Circuit to rule, but if the Supreme Court were to grant review soon of the cases pending there, federal appeals courts that have not yet ruled will likely stand down until the Justices have ruled.