Many Outcomes Possible in Amendment 3 Rulings

by Norris Law Group on May 12, 2014

The Deseret News reported on May 4, 2014 that a whole range of outcomes may be possible regarding Utah’s appeal of a federal court ruling that overturned Amendment 3, and even when a conclusion is reached, it will likely face further litigation as well.

Many Outcomes Possible in Amendment 3 RulingsA three-judge panel in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals will make the decision, but their ruling does not have to be unanimous. A split decision in which they judges agree on the result but not on the reasoning is conceivable.

The judges have several options, which include, but may not be limited to:

  • ruling that Utah’s Amendment 3 defining marriage as between a man and woman is indeed constitutional, effectively reversing the federal decision that deemed it unconstitutional;
  • affirming the federal ruling, making same-sex marriage legal not only in Utah, but also in five other states within the jurisdiction of the 10th Circuit — Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Wyoming; or
  • send the case back to the federal judge to found Amendment 3 to be unconstitutional to see if there is a need for trial based on existing evidence. In Utah, a trial would center on the legitimacy of same-sex parenting versus heterosexual parenting. Many court observers, however, think this outcome is unlikely.

The Utah case is the first one to reach the federal appellate court since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act in U.S. v. Windsor in the summer of 2013.

Once the panel of 10th Circuit Court judges reaches final decision, the losing side may try to take the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court, although SCOTUS takes on a very small number of case requests.

Michelle Mumford, assistant dean of admissions at the BYU law school and a former 10th Circuit Court clerk says, “A lot of people think it’s a given that the Supreme Court would accept it. I wonder. I think the Supreme Court might want to wait for a few more circuits to decide the issue.”

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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