Utah Will Appeal Gay Marriage Ruling In Supreme Court, But SCOTUS Might Not Take the Case
Because some people just will not give up, Utah has decided to make good on their threat and take a June court ruling upholding same-sex marriage all the way to SCOTUS. In an announcement Wednesday, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said Utah would appeal the gay marriage ruling with the Supreme Court, skipping the usual process of first going back to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If SCOTUS does decide to take the case — which is actually quite unlikely — we might have a definitive ruling on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage within a year.
On June 25, a three-judge panel in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver overturned Utah's long-held gay marriage ban in a momentous 2-1 decision. Although the move was a victory for marriage equality — and the first time an appeals court had struck down a same-sex marriage ban since DOMA — the ruling was immediately stayed pending an appeal. (Utah isn't the only state to put its same-sex couples in limbo; Oklahoma, Virginia, Texas, Michigan, Arkansas, Idaho, Wisconsin, Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming, and Indiana have all put gay marriage rulings on hold pending appeals.)
At the time, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes — who has a history of being not-so-gay-friendly — had threatened to take the appellate ruling to the highest court in the land; on Wednesday, Reyes' office officially announced that they will in fact file an appeal with SCOTUS. Said the office in a statement, via the Los Angeles Times:
To obtain clarity and resolution from the highest court, the Utah Attorney General’s Office will not seek en banc review of the Kitchen v. Herbert Tenth Circuit decision, but will file a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court in the coming weeks. Attorney General Reyes has a sworn duty to defend the laws of our state. Utah’s Constitutional Amendment 3 is presumed to be constitutional unless the highest court deems otherwise.
If the appeal makes it to SCOTUS, it'll be the first time gay marriage is considered at the top court since DOMA. But although it would be game-changing if the Supreme Court did decide to take the case, the truth is, it's quite unlikely that it will. Four out of the nine Supreme Court justices first have to vote to take on the case, and since Utah has decided to skip the review stage, it's more than possible that the case will just be thrown back to an appeals court.