Plaintiffs file reply briefs to the Supreme Court
April 17, 2015
Editor's Note: As further reply briefs are made available, this post will be updated.
Today, Friday, April 17, plaintiffs in the marriage cases before the United States Supreme Court filed their reply briefs, explaining why marriage matters.
These briefs are responses to briefs filed by defendants on March 23, 2015. A hearing in this case is scheduled for April 28. There, Massachusetts marriage case lawyer Mary Bonauto and former Assistant U.S. Solicitor General Douglas Hallward-Driemier will present the arguments in favor of the freedom to marry to the Court.
Tennessee's marriage case, Tanco v. Haslam, was filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights on behalf of three couples who were married outside of Tennessee and were denied respect for their marriages in the state. The reply brief from Tennessee explained how marriages should be constant throughout the states of our country.
Contrary to respondents’ argument, marriage is not a transient status, the validity of which is in constant flux as a family traverses the country. As a fundamental familial relationship underpinning our society, marriage is a status that carries substantial constitutional protection and cannot be invalidated or disregarded by any state without compelling justifica-tion. By stripping petitioners of that status as a condi-tion of entering the State, Tennessee deprives them of a fundamental aspect of personal liberty in violation of the Due Process Clause.
Ohio's marriage case, Obergefell v. Hodges, was filed by private lawyers from Gerhardstein & Branch Co., LPA and Newman & Meeks Co., LPA and later joined by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of John Arthur and James Obergefell seeking legal respect for their marriage, which they celebrated in Maryland on July 11, in their home state of Ohio. The case is combined with Henry v. Himes, in which a judge ruled that Ohio must respect all married same-sex couples who wed in other states for all state purposes. The reply brief from Ohio emphasized real families' stories in these cases:
Ohio's opposing brief is remarkable for what it does not say. Replete with abstract disquisitions on federalism and democracy, it neglects to acknowledge what is at the heart of these cases: real people — men, women, and children — who seek basic dignity and equality. Petitioners range from a toddler adopted by a married same-sex couple to same-sex married parents to grieving widowers. They seek recognition of the marriages that should protect their families from cradle to grave and beyond.
Freedom to Marry applauds the legal teams and plaintiffs for their hard work in fighting for marriage in their home states and across the nation. Read more about the freedom to marry at the Supreme Court here.