Could Marriage Equality Hit a Bump at the Sixth Circuit?

Written by scott on August 2nd, 2014

Gay WeddingMarriage equality has had a very good run in the federal courts ever since the Supreme Court declared the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional in 2013. Every single federal court to consider the question has sided with marriage equality, although two federal appellate judges have dissented from this consensus view in the United States Courts of Appeals for the Fourth and the Tenth Circuits.

Nevertheless, equality is likely to face more skeptical judges as more of these cases advance to the court of appeals level. As ThinkProgress warned last June, “appointments to federal circuit courts have historically been much more politically charged than appointments to the lower-ranking district courts, so litigants are far more likely to encounter a judge who was selected for their loyalty to a particular ideology.” We also predicted that the Sixth Circuit, with a strong Republican majority and a history of partisan acrimony, was especially likely to treat a marriage equality case with skepticism…

To the extent that there is a wild card on the panel, it is Judge Jeffrey Sutton. Prior to becoming a judge, Sutton was a brilliant — and very conservative — litigator who devoted much of his career to cases seeking to expand the role of the states at the federal government’s expense. He also helped lead the conservative Federalist Society’s Federalism and Separation of Powers practice group. Sutton was widely expected to be a reliable conservative vote when he joined the bench, and for most of his time as a judge, he has been.

Authored By Ian Millhiser – See the Full Story at Think Progress

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