Is Appealing A Same-Sex Judgment Ruling Sanctionable?

October 12th, 2014

Today, a district court in Alaska invalidated Alaska’s ban on same-sex marriage. Chris Geidner reports that Alaska’s Governor seems ready s to appeal the judgment. He issued a statement saying that “although the district court today may have been bound by the recent Ninth Circuit panel opinion, the status of that opinion and the law in general in this area is in flux. I will defend our constitution.” On Twitter, @bmaz wrote that Rule 11 Sanctions may be in order.

I think sanctions may be a bit premature. Although the Supreme Court denied a stay, the status of the 9th Circuit panel decision is still not final. En banc proceedings are still legally possible. Even if the 9th Circuit denies en banc (which they will), I would not be surprised if there is a dissental from Judge O’Scannlain. Even then, Idaho still can petition for certiorari (even if they will not). So, it is probably glib to say the law is in “flux” but it is not quite sanctionable.

Even if Alaska thinks the 9th Circuit is whacky, they can appeal to the Supreme Court by filing a petition for certiorari before judgment. If past is prologue, the Court will deny such a petition, but that route still exists.

Now, all these moves at this point are probably fruitless. But that doesn’t make them sanctionable.