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Marriage Day at the Supreme Court: What to Expect on April 28

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April 21, 2015
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Jon W. Davidson

Seven days from now, on April 28th, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the marriage cases from Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.

The argument will begin at 10:00 am and is scheduled to last for two and a half hours.

A total of 90 minutes has been allotted to Question 1: Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?

  • Mary Bonauto, Civil Rights Project Director at Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, will go first and argue for 30 minutes (minus any time she saves for rebuttal) on behalf of same-sex couples in the cases, including couples from Ohio where Lambda Legal is co-counsel.
  • Next up will be Donald Verilli Jr., Solicitor General of the United States who will argue for 15 minutes in favor of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.
  • Michigan Solicitor General John Bursch will have 45 minutes to defend states bans on marriage.
  • There will be rebuttal during which Mary Bonauto will have time to refute anything raised by Michigan’s Solicitor General Bursch or to clarify anything further

There then will be 60 minutes of argument for Question 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?

  • Doug Hallward-Driemeier, who leads the Appellate and Supreme Court practice at Ropes & Gray, will have 30 minutes (again, minus any time saved for rebuttal) to argue that a state must recognize marriages of same-sex couples entered outside the state. In other words, if you married in Maryland, then Tennessee is required by law to recognize it.
  • Then Joe Whalen, Associate Solicitor General in the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office, will have 30 minutes to defend state bans on recognition of marriages entered by same-sex couples.
  • There will also be rebuttal on this question, so that Doug Hallward-Driemeier will have time to refute anything raised by Associate Solicitor General Whalen or to clarify anything further.

It is important to note that the core arguments we have been making and that have been prevailing in our marriage cases stem from The Fourteenth Amendment which protects individuals against unwarranted restrictions on their liberty and requires equal treatment.

The Court has announced that it will provide the audio recording and transcript of oral arguments by 2:00 pm.

A decision is expected by the end of June.

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