The Process of Marriage Equality

94 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2015 Last revised: 1 Mar 2016

Josh Blackman

South Texas College of Law Houston

Howard M. Wasserman

Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: February 11, 2016

Abstract

This article offers the first comprehensive history of the marriage-equality litigation process leading from Windsor to Obergefell. It explores how four aspects of federal procedure and jurisdiction doctrine both enabled and frustrated marriage equality’s advance to the Supreme Court. First, we examine common misconceptions about how judgments, injunctions, and judicial precedent control real-world conduct and how litigation brings about legal reform. These misconceptions reached their nadir in Alabama in spring 2015. Guided by Chief Justice Roy Moore, Alabama officials properly declined to follow persuasive precedent, prompting unfortunate and inaccurate comparisons to George Wallace and Massive Resistance to Brown and desegregation. Second, we examine the pivotal, but underappreciated, role of stays pending appeal in constitutional litigation. In particular, we consider how denials of stays triggered concurrent races to the courts of appeals and to the altars. The Court’s transmission of signals through unexplained stays and denials of certiorari exacerbated the confusion in the lower courts and the states, highlighting a penumbra of what one scholar calls the Court’s “shadow docket.” Finally, we examine unsuccessful efforts by state attorneys to move marriage cases out of federal court by initiating state-court litigation and urging federal abstention. This article makes a first contribution to the scholarly discussion of marriage equality by focusing on the critical, but underdeveloped, procedural nuances of high-stakes civil rights litigation. By considering the process of marriage equality, we better understand this societal evolution and future constitutional revolutions.

Keywords: Procedure, Marriage Equality, Jurisdiction, Fourteenth Amendment, Civil Rights, Constitution

Suggested Citation

Blackman, Josh and Wasserman, Howard M., The Process of Marriage Equality (February 11, 2016). Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, Vol. 43, No. 2, pp. 243-335, 2016; Florida International University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 15-33. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2697635

Josh Blackman (Contact Author)

South Texas College of Law Houston ( email )

1303 San Jacinto Street
Houston, TX 77002
United States

Howard M. Wasserman

Florida International University (FIU) - College of Law ( email )

University Park, DB 2065
Miami, FL 33199
United States
305-348-7482 (Phone)

Paper statistics

Downloads
71
Rank
62,267
Abstract Views
424