Affirmative Action Now Part of Utah Same-Sex Marriage Case

by Norris Law Group on May 13, 2014

Affirmative Action Now Part of Utah Same-Sex Marriage CaseUtah state attorneys embroiled in a court battle over the legality of same-sex marriage in Utah are using a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on affirmative action to bolster their case. The Deseret News reported on May 2, 2014 that attorneys for the state are turning to the SCOTUS ruling upholding the state of Michigan’s ban on considering race as a factor in college admissions.

Utah’s attorneys maintain that the Michigan decision supports the state’s argument that Utah voters have every right to set state law at the ballot box.

In April 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 6-2 that Michigan voters had the right to change their state constitution in 2006 to prohibit public colleges and universities from using race in decisions about college admissions, finding that a lower federal court judge was in error when the judge found that change to be discriminatory.

Lead counsel for the Utah, Gene Schaerr, wrote in a court filing that the Michigan affirmative action case proves voters can indeed ban preferences. He further writes that the Michigan case reinforces the importance of allowing voters to make their own decisions on public policy choices through democratic channels.

Peggy Tomsic, attorney for three same-sex couples suing Utah over Amendment 3, disagrees, saying that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Michigan case “did not and could not hold that voters can deny constitutional rights.”

Schaerr believes that the 10th Circuit should concur with SCOTUS in that Utah voters appropriately exercised their rights when they “decided to preserve the man-woman definition that predates government itself.”

Tomsic countered that SCOTUS’s Michigan does not change the high court’s 2013 ruling finding that states must honor the constitutional rights of all people.

A federal judge struck down Utah’s Amendment 3 on the basis that a ban on same-sex marriage denies same-sex couples their rights to equal protection under the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Attorney Graham Norris and his associates at the Norris Law Group serve the residents of Utah County and throughout Utah in the area of divorce and family law. Contact them today at 801-932-1238 or online for a free consultation.

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