U.S. Supreme Court

Utah AG sees 'legal limbo' for same-sex marriages after SCOTUS puts the unions on hold

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday stayed a federal judge’s Dec. 20 decision allowing same-sex marriages in Utah.

The Supreme Court stayed the decision by U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby pending disposition by the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, report the New York Times, the National Law Journal and SCOTUSblog. The appeals court plans an expedited review, with a Feb. 25 deadline for briefs in the case.

According to SCOTUSblog, “it now appears almost certain” that the U.S. Supreme Court will not take up the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans this term. The court would have to grant review this month for a decision by the end of the term.

The blog says the case shouldn’t be interpreted as an indication how the Supreme Court will eventually rule on the issue, an opinion echoed by Yale law professor William Eskridge Jr., who spoke with the New York Times.

“Is it a harbinger of what the Supreme Court will do?” Eskridge asked. “No, I don’t think so. We know nothing more than we did the day after” the Supreme Court ruled in two cases earlier this year. One decision struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and the other found that supporters of a gay-marriage ban in California did not have standing to appeal a ruling allowing the marriages.

Since Shelby struck down Utah’s same-sex marriage ban, 950 gay couples have married in the state. Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes issued a statement saying he was “carefully evaluating the legal status” of those marriages.

“There is not clear legal precedence for this particular situation,” the statement said. “It is very unfortunate that so many Utah citizens have been put into this legal limbo.”

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Utah asks SCOTUS to stay ruling allowing same-sex marriages; a ‘subtle shift’ in arguments?”

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