AG issues statement on U.S. Supreme Court granting review of same sex marriage laws

TOPEKA – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt issued the following statement Jan. 16:

“For the second time, the U.S. Supreme Court has now agreed to hear argument on whether the United States Constitution prohibits states from enforcing laws that define marriage solely as the union of one man and one woman. As I have said in the past, this is a legal question that can be settled with certainty only by a decision from our nation’s highest court. While it is too early to know how this will affect pending cases in Kansas, I am encouraged the Supreme Court has taken these cases, and I’m hopeful that this time the Court will provide a clear and timely decision that provides greater legal certainty.”

The U.S. Supreme Court today granted review of four cases stemming from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals involving the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. That federal appeals court, unlike the 10th Circuit that includes Kansas, had decided states may constitutionally prohibit same-sex marriage. The 6th Circuit cases were consolidated and placed on an expedited briefing schedule that preserves the possibility of a decision before the Supreme Court’s term ends in June. The Supreme Court’s order today states that it will consider two questions: 1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex? 2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?

In 2013 the Supreme Court heard a similar case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, but did not reach the merits of the constitutional question after concluding the case involved improper parties. In October 2014, the Supreme Court declined to hear another appeal, resulting in conflicting interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment’s application to state marriage laws in different parts of the country.

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