Meanwhile, Tenth Circuit strikes down Utah’s same-sex marriage ban

June 25

Today’s Supreme Court opinions have a lot of interesting food for thought in them. But I just thought I’d point out that meanwhile, this morning the Tenth Circuit struck down Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage. Judge Lucero wrote the majority opinion, joined by Judge Holmes. It begins:

Our commitment as Americans to the principles of liberty, due process of law, and equal protection of the laws is made live by our adherence to the Constitution of the United States of America. Historical challenges to these principles ultimately culminated in the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment nearly one-and-a-half centuries ago. This Amendment extends the guarantees of due process and equal protection to every person in every State of the Union. Those very principles are at issue yet again in this marriage equality appeal.

Judge Kelly dissented. Unless I have missed one, I believe he is the first federal judge to vote against a constitutional same-sex marriage claim since the Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor a year ago. His dissent ends:

We should resist the temptation to become philosopher-kings, imposing our views under the guise of constitutional interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

I assume that Utah will seek rehearing en banc, but if it is denied relatively quickly, the Supreme Court will be able to decide by next fall whether to hear the case. If it did decide to hear the case, it would be able to decided it by this time next year.

Will Baude is an assistant professor at the University of Chicago Law School, where he teaches constitutional law and federal courts. His recent articles include Rethinking the Federal Eminent Domain Power, (Yale Law Journal, 2013), and Beyond DOMA: State Choice of Law in Federal Statutes, (Stanford Law Review, 2012).
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Eugene Volokh | June 25