North Carolina GOP leaders to appeal gay marriage ruling to U.S. Supreme Court

North CarolinaSenate leader Phil Berger (left) and House Speaker Thom Tillis. LYLE DENNISTON [e]SCOTUS Blog[m]

The leaders of the two branches of the North Carolina state legislature notified a federal court on Friday that they will ask the Supreme Court to rule promptly on the constitutionality of the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

North CarolinaSenate leader Phil Berger (left) and House Speaker Thom Tillis.

North CarolinaSenate leader Phil Berger (left) and House Speaker Thom Tillis.

In a filing at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, the two legislative leaders — both Republicans — asked the Fourth Circuit to put on hold an appeal they have pending there, because an appeal to the Supreme Court will be made, urging the Justices to bypass the Fourth Circuit.

This is the second case from the geographic region of the Fourth Circuit that is bound for the Supreme Court on a plea to rule before the Fourth Circuit resolves pending appeals. The other planned petition is by state officials in South Carolina; it has not yet been filed.

The Fourth Circuit has previously struck down a ban in Virginia, and federal judges in North and South Carolina have applied that ruling in nullifying state prohibitions.

Thom Tillis, the speaker of the North Carolina House (who in January will become a U.S. senator for the state) and Phil Berger, the presiding officer of the state senate, argued in their filing today that the Supreme Court is likely to grant review of some of the pending appeals on the same-sex marriage dispute.

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The Fourth Circuit should postpone the North Carolina cases until after the Supreme Court acts on the state legislative leaders’ petition, they asserted.

The two legislative leaders have moved into the same-sex marriage cases after the state’s attorney general chose not to appeal rulings against the state laws, which ban not only new same-sex marriages, but also bar recognition of existing same-sex marriages performed in other states. Same-sex marriages are now being performed across the state.

The Justices have not yet acted on any of the new round of cases, but it appears that the cases may be prepared in time for them to do so in January.


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