ACLU Files Same-Sex Marriage Suits in PA, Soon in VA and NC.

July 9th, 2013

Reversing their conservative litigation strategy, following Windsor and Perry, the ACLU is just going to sue the bastards. Everywhere. Barely two weeks after the Supreme Court decided the DOMA and Prop 8 cases, the ACLU filed the first of many suits in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, seeking to overturn the Keystone State’s ban on same-sex marriage. And of course they cite the soaring rhetoric from AMK’s opinion:

A couple for 22 years with two teenage daughters, the Whitewoods filed suit on Tuesday to overturn Pennsylvania’s ban on gay marriage, one of the first of an expected outpouring of cases around the country to cite the court’s majority opinion that same-sex couples are denied a “status of immense import” and their children deprived of “the integrity and closeness of their own family.”

The suit, carefully assembled by the American Civil Liberties Union, was filed in Federal District Court in Harrisburg with the aim of adding Pennsylvania to the column of 13 other states permitting same-sex marriage, plus the District of Columbia. The 23 plaintiffs come from many walks of life, including a doctor, college professors, a truck driver, a Vietnam veteran and a widow who lost her partner of 29 years.

New suits will be filed in Virginia and North Carolina, with the obvious goal of getting this before the Justices, once again.

The A.C.L.U. plans to file suit shortly in two other states, Virginia and North Carolina. In Michigan, a federal judge blocked a state law denying domestic partner benefits to public employees, citing last month’s United States Supreme Court rulings. “You’ll have these things filed all over the place,” said Frank Schubert, political director of the National Organization for Marriage, which opposes same-sex marriage.

James Esseks, national director of the LGBT Project at the A.C.L.U., agreed. “No question this issue will get back to U.S. Supreme Court over the next several years,” he said.

Now, the flood gates are open. Onto the Supreme Court. Let’s see if Justice Kennedy’s silly limiting dicta means anything.

This opinion and its holding are confined to those lawful marriages.

A question that I have been pondering of late, as part of my rational basis test research, is what happens after the Supreme Court recognizes a right to same-sex marriage (in 3 or 4 years, perhaps)? What then? What will the next big legal civil rights fight be over? Barry Friedman and Dhalia Lithwick have blogged about the progressive agenda for the future. But all of these liberal goals (education, economic equality, etc.)  have been tried and rejected by the Court. Unless the Court reverses old precedent–like the Lawrence Court reversed Bowers–what’s left? On a deeper level, what should we make of the Court’s approach to rational basis review in the trilogy of Romer-Lawrence-Windsor? Will it apply anywhere else? If not, was this reasoning just a fiction? If it will apply elsewhere, where? I tend to think new constitutional debates will pop up. Maybe concerning privacy? Rights for data? Corporations fighting back against governmental regulations? We’ll see.

All questions I’m working on.