The fight for marriage equality in our state continues this week. Oral arguments in the appeals of three cases out of Indiana and one out of Wisconsin are set to begin Tuesday morning before the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Lambda Legal, a legal organization representing one of Indiana’s three cases, held a conference to explain what can be expected when the court convenes in Chicago.
According to Lambda Legal’s Paul Castillo, lead attorney in the Baskin vs. Bogan, et. al. case, each side will have 20 minutes to present their arguments. Since the state of Indiana is appealing U.S. District Court Judge Richard L. Young’s decision that declared the state’s ban on same sex marriage is unconstitutional, they will present their case first. Indiana plans to present in 15 minutes with five minutes reserved for a rebuttal.
Co-counsel Camilla Taylor from Lambda Legal and Ken Falk, Legal Director for the ACLU of Indiana will present on behalf of all three cases: Baskin vs. Bogan, Fugii vs. the Commissioner for the Indiana Department of Revenue, and Lee vs. Abbott. The case out of Wisconsin will immediately follow Indiana’s case with each side getting 20 minutes to present as well. The total time allotted for oral arguments is 80 minutes. The 3-judge panel will have the option of asking questions until they are satisfied they have enough information to consider a decision.
Then the wait begins (again) for hundreds of couples, their families and friends across the state to know whether or not they can live and love in matrimony as opposite sex coupes do in Indiana. There is no telling how long the court will take to issue an opinion.
The cases in Indiana and Wisconsin mirror several cases across the country that have already been heard or are scheduled to be heard at the circuit level in the near future. Taylor, who also serves Lambda Legal as National Marriage Project Director said Indiana’s cases are in the title wave of cases that have come forth since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down parts of the Defense Of Marriage Act in 2013.
“Court after court have struck down state bans on same sex couples either marrying or bans on recognition of out-of-state marriages entered into by same sex couples,” said Taylor. “This has been a remarkable year.”
The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals found Virginia’s law unconstitutional and the 10th Circuit came to the same conclusion for cases out of Utah and Oklahoma. Oral arguments were presented last month in the 6th Circuit for cases out of Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky. After Indiana and Wisconsin presents to the 7th Circuit, the 9th Circuit will hear oral arguments for cases in Nevada and Idaho on Sept. 8.
“So this is part of a bigger struggle,” said Taylor. “I think most court watchers expect the U.S. Supreme Court is going to take cirt, in one of these cases, probably for determination of the issue by June of 2015. Or if not that, then 2016, people are expecting at the latest.”
It’s that potential U.S. Supreme Court timeline and the other cases in other circuits that attorneys believe led the 7th Circuit to schedule oral arguments so quickly following Young’s decision and the state’s motion to appeal.
But, Taylor noted that there is one thing the 7th Circuit has done that no other circuit has. And it is something that gives her and her team a lot of hope for an outcome in their favor.
“The 7th circuit lifted the stay as to Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler because of Niki’s urgent battle against ovarian cancer. Which is, I think, a very hopeful development for us,” said Taylor. “I think it shows us that the court understood the significance of what it is that we are struggling to achieve and the significance to Niki and Amy of being deprived of recognition for their existing marriage as they struggle to be together and Niki’s final days basically against this terrible disease.”
Attorneys won’t know to whom they are presenting until 30 minutes before arguments begin. Three judges from the potential 10 who sit on the 7th Circuit will be announced at 9 am CST as the panel who will hear the arguments at 9:30 CST.
The court is expected to post a link for the public to hear their oral arguments including judges’ questions sometime after they have concluded. NUVO will post that link as soon as it becomes available.
Several Send-Off events are planned for Monday to send the plaintiffs and attorneys up I-65 to Chicago with as much positive mojo as supporters can muster.
MONDAY, AUGUST 25
- Indianapolis Rally for Marriage Equality
9 a.m. EST
City Market Plaza
222 East Market Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204
- Lafayette Rally for Marriage Equality
11:30 a.m. EST
200 N. Second Street
Lafayette, IN 47901
- Northwest Indiana Rally for Marriage Equality
1 p.m. CST
Centennial Park (north entrance)
900 N Centennial Drive
Munster, IN 46321
- Rally to support the freedom to marry in Indiana and Wisconsin
5:30 p.m. CST
219 South Dearborn St. (at Adams street)
Chicago, IL 60604