Suddenly, Attorney General Pam Bondi’s reasonable request to postpone further appeals activity on same-sex marriage is not only abundantly logical, but prescient as well.
Wednesday, the United States Supreme Court stayed the decision by the federal Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals that declared Virginia’s marriage ban unconstitutional. Marriages of gay and lesbian couples had been scheduled to begin at the opening of government business Thursday.
From a release distributed by the American Foundation for Equal Rights:
The Supreme Court has been asked by the Commonwealth of Virginia to consider the [stayed] case in its next term to decide the question of marriage equality. ... In light of the stay, lawyers for [plaintiffs in Bostic v. Rainey] intend to file a response in support of the Commonwealth’s petition to urge the Supreme Court to review the Bostic case and resolve the incredibly important question it presents. ...
Should the Supreme Court agree to hear the case, the stay issued today will remain in place until the case has been fully briefed, argued, and decided by the high court.
Bondi essentially called this in her letter last month to Florida’s appellate courts. SCOTUS’s stay of the Fourth Circuit’s ruling not only suggests what it would do with any appeal emerging from a decision by the state Supreme Court, but also is a likely indicator that the high court intends to accept Virginia’s request for certiorari in its upcoming term.
As Bondi correctly noted, the whole notion of states setting rules for what constitutes a marriage could be settled, for all of America, no later than next June. Whatever Florida does between now and then would amount to a highly expensive moot court exercise.
If, on the other hand, SCOTUS declines the case, the Virginia stay (and others, as in Utah) will be lifted and heretofore marriages will commence in some places, and legal fights will resume here and elsewhere.