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[ATG] 7th Circuit grants State's motion for stay in marriage cases
Start Date: 6/27/2014Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 6/27/2014
Entry Description

Updating the Office's statement from earlier on Friday, June 27:

The U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago has granted the State of Indiana’s emergency motion for stay in the recent ruling on Indiana’s marriage law.  This means the order Wednesday, June 25  by U.S. District Court Richard L. Young, finding Indiana’s marriage definition unconstitutional, is now halted, pending resolution of this appeal in the 7th Circuit.  County clerks will be notified that under the stay granted Friday, June 27, Indiana’s marriage laws are again fully in force pursuant to the 7th Circuit’s order.

The 7th Circuit issued the stay approximately two hours after the Indiana Attorney General’s Office – state government’s lawyer – filed the motion.  During the stay of the district court’s ruling, the parties will have the opportunity to submit their arguments to the 7th Circuit in the appeal of the underlying lawsuits challenging Indiana’s marriage law, but Chief Judge Young’s order of June 25 will not be in effect.

EARLIER:
INDIANAPOLIS – As the State’s appeal of a federal judge’s ruling against Indiana’s marriage law continues, the Indiana Attorney General’s Office has asked a federal appeals court to weigh in and decide whether the lower court’s order will be stayed or not during the appeal.  The AG’s Office noted the confusion and inconsistency for the public that has occurred since Wednesday as most county clerks are issuing marriage licenses to – and performing marriages for – same sex couples, but a few clerks are not. After the U.S. District Court’s ruling Wednesday finding Indiana’s marriage law unconstitutional, the Attorney General’s Office filed an emergency motion for stay, expecting the district court would rule upon it immediately.  That has not yet happened, so the AG’s Office today filed a separate emergency motion for stay in the higher court, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

In its filing, the State of Indiana notes that without a stay, any same-sex marriages granted now might have their legal validity questioned later if the United States Supreme Court eventually were to rule in favor of states in upcoming legal challenges to marriage laws. The State argues that a delay pending completion of the appeal would cause less harm to applicants than the legal uncertainty that could arise later for those seeking to obtain marriage licenses now.

On Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Evansville, Chief Judge Richard L. Young ruled in three lawsuits challenging Indiana’s traditional marriage definition law.  As lawyer for the State of Indiana, the Attorney General’s Office is appealing the court’s order and late Wednesday asked Chief Judge Young to stay his ruling pending appeal.  If the State’s emergency motion for stay were granted, then the traditional marriage definition law would be reinstated and same-sex marriages would not be granted. The State’s emergency motion for stay of the ruling is fully briefed and a ruling from U.S. District Court had been expected Thursday or early today. 

But with no ruling issued yet by the district court either granting or denying the stay motion, confusion has ensued, with marriage licenses being granted at some county courthouses but not others.  The district court’s order took effect immediately Wednesday and gave the defendants no time to prepare or update licensing forms.  To get a decision rapidly on whether or not clerks must continue to issue same-sex marriage licenses pending appeal of the underlying lawsuit, the Attorney General’s Office has asked for a stay from the 7th Circuit.

In other legal challenges to marriage laws of other states, federal district courts and federal appeals courts have normally stayed the implementation of their decisions, pending appeal.  If a stay is granted by one of the courts in this case, then county clerks would no longer issue same-sex marriage licenses or perform same-sex marriages. If a stay is denied, clerks could continue to do both and Chief Judge Young’s order would continue to remain in effect pending further appeal.

The emergency motion for stay is separate from the State’s appeal of the underlying lawsuits to the 7th Circuit, notice of which was filed Wednesday.  On Friday the 7th Circuit consolidated the three cases into one case:  Baskin et al. v. Bogan et al., Fujii et al. v. Commissioner et al. and Lee et al. v. Abbott et al.

As State government’s lawyer, the Attorney General’s Office is required to defend the Indiana statute from lawsuits that plaintiffs’ lawyers file, both in the trial court and on appeal.  The State’s legal position is that the Legislature has the authority to legally define marriage within Indiana’s borders and to define it in the traditional way, and that Indiana’s marriage statute is constitutional.  The motion for stay asks that Chief Judge Young’s injunction of Wednesday be put on hold, and not enforced, until the larger appeal can be decided. Indiana Solicitor General Thomas M. Fisher of the Attorney General’s Office represents the State in the motion for stay and consolidated appeal.

All the State’s legal work is being handled by a salaried attorney in the Attorney General’s Office who does not charge billable hours, and under the office’s annual budget the Legislature approved in advance.  No outside counsel is being used to defend Indiana’s statute from the lawsuits.

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