Bostic stay

Attorneys for the Virginia county clerk who has been defending the state’s same-sex marriage ban asked the U.S. Supreme Court last night to stay implementation of the Fourth Circuit’s decision, in Bostic v. Schaefer, striking down that ban as unconstitutional.

Per SCOTUSBLOG, that decision will go into effect at 9 a.m. next Thursday absent intervention by the high court.

The request was directed to Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., who handles Fourth Circuit emergency filings. Roberts can act on his own or consult his colleagues.

The Chief Justice has asked for a response to the request by Monday at 5 p.m.

The clerk’s request was prompted by the Fourth Circuit’s refusal this past Wednesday to enter a stay of its own decision.

 

marriage amendmentThe Fourth Circuit today denied a request by parties defending Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban to stay the court’s ruling in Bostic v. Schaefer pending a petition for review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

On July 28 the court held that the Virginia law was unconstitutional and entered judgement on that date. The ruling is scheduled to go into effect on August 18, 2014.

Michèle B. McQuigg, the  Prince William County Clerk of Circuit Court and a defendant in Bostic, told the court that she intends to file a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court by October 26, 2014, and asked that implementation of the ruling be stayed in the meantime, citing the potential of confusion and inconsistent results:

The absence of a stay will likely produce legal uncertainty and confusion. The Utah marriage case serves as a useful example. In Utah, after the district court struck down the state’s marriage laws, the district court and the Tenth Circuit declined to issue a stay.  As a result, many same-sex couples in Utah obtained marriage licenses pursuant to the district court’s injunction. Days later, however, the Supreme Court stayed the injunction, and Utah’s man-woman marriage laws went back into effect. Thus, the State of Utah now declines to recognize the licenses that were issued to same-sex couples during that interim period.

Same-sex couples who obtained licenses during that period filed a lawsuit in federal court to require the State to recognize those licenses as valid. The district court held that the interim licenses must be recognized, but the Supreme Court again stayed that decision pending appellate resolution. Thus, the validity of those licenses is still in limbo.

For more on the Fourth Circuit’s ruling in Bostic, read here.

Voting rightsIn a 125-page decision released at 5 p.m. on Friday,  U.S. District Judge Thomas D. Schroeder ruled that the upcoming November elections will go forward under provisions of the new voting law enacted by the General Assembly in 2013.

For North Carolina voters, that means for this election cycle, there will be no same-day registration, early voting days will be reduced from 17 to 10, and votes cast out-of-precinct will not be counted.

In several lawsuits filed in federal court, groups and individuals, including the N.C. State Conference of the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, students and the Justice Department, contend that the House Bill 589 — dubbed the “monster voting bill” by voting rights advocates and uniformly called one of the most restrictive election laws in the nation — violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act as well as the 14th, 15th and 26th Amendments to the Constitution.

The challengers had asked the court to suspend enforcement of that law during the November elections, arguing that holding an election under a constitutionally-challenged law would irreparably harm voters, particularly those rendered unable to vote, those unduly burdened by the new law, and those whose votes might be discounted because of its provisions.

But Schroeder, appointed to the federal court here in 2007 by President George W. Bush, was unpersuaded by that argument.

Importantly, though, Schroeder also rejected the state’s efforts to have the case dismissed. That means the continued viability of the new law will be tested at trial in July 2015.

“If this law is found unconstitutional, North Carolinians whose voting rights were violated in the midterm election will have lost a critical opportunity to participate in our democratic process,” Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement. “While we had hoped the court would recognize this irreparable harm, the ultimate goal is to see these discriminatory measures struck down. We look forward to making our case at full trial, which is something the state had sought to avoid.”

The Decision

Here are the key parts of Judge Schroeder’s ruling: Read More

Sanderson-CooperState Sen. Norm Sanderson (R-Pamlico) told those attending the inaugural meeting of the Morehead-Beaufort Tea Party yesterday that the top leadership in both GOP-controlled branches of the legislature are working to remove Attorney General Roy Cooper from office, according to this report in The Carteret County News-Times.

Citing Cooper’s announcement in late July that his office would no longer defend the state’s same-sex marriage ban after the Fourth Circuit found Virginia’s similar law unconstitutional, Sanderson said:

“If he’s not going to defend what we, the citizens of North Carolina, want him to defend, we need to probably impeach him because he’s been a vocal opponent of the marriage amendment ever since it was passed.”

He added that steps are in place once Senate President Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis give the green light.

“Our leadership hasn’t made the final decision but everything is on ready, set, go if that’s what we want to do.”

Of course, doing what some lawmakers and citizens of the state want him to do is not the job of the Attorney General.

Here’s Jim Tierney, former Maine Attorney General and now director of the National State Attorneys General Program at Columbia Law School:

The simple truth is that attorney general refusal to defend happens all the time.

Legislatures are comprised in most states by non-lawyers trying to do the right thing, but they do not understand the complexity of constitutional limits. They are advised, but often plunge ahead — both liberals and conservatives — and make constitutional mistakes. It then falls to the attorney general to clean this mess up.

The attorney general is supposed to uphold the constitution – that’s his job.

And you want your attorney general telling the truth. If the attorney general in his view says ‘you’ve got some real constitutional issues here,’ I would think any governor would want to know that before he signs a bill.

 

 

According to a release today by the N.C. Department of Administration, as of July 31, 2014 the state Industrial Commission has denied more than 300 claims for compensation from the $10 million Eugenics Compensation Fund.

The Office for Justice of Sterilization Victims had received 780 claim forms from potential Eugenics Board sterilization victims by the June 30 deadline.  It  forwarded 565 claims to the Industrial Commission for initial determination and requested additional information from the remaining claimants.

Of the 565 sent to the Industrial Commission, 500 claims were reviewed and sent initial determination orders. Only 180 of those were deemed “qualified” for compensation.

Per payment provisions enacted with the new budget, those claimants will receive an initial payment in October.

Read more about the eugenics program here.