Appealing A Decision You Won As A “Procedural Move”

March 3rd, 2014

The Virginia Attorney General decided not to defend the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in federal court. The district court ruled in his favor. Usually, when a party prevails in the lower court, it does not appeal. But we aren’t dealing with normal litigation here.

The Virginia AG has decided to appeal a ruling he agreed with as a “procedural move,” even though he agrees with the lower court’s ruling. What is the procedural move? Unless the government appeals, and is present in the case, it would have to be dismissed for lack of standing. This is similar to California’s decision to appeal the Prop 8 Judgment, even thought it agreed with Judge Walker’s decision, and with the United States’s decision to appeal the decision in Windsor, even thought it agree with the lower court.

The practice of  states appealing judgments they agree with, just to get it before a higher court, strikes me as odd. But this is the new normal in the same-sex marriage litigation.