Supreme Court Move Could Affect Arizona's Gay Marriage Ban

By Nick Blumberg
Published: Monday, October 6, 2014 - 3:58pm

Monday, the United States Supreme Court announced it wouldn’t hear arguments about same-sex marriage bans in five states. That means gay couples will be allowed to marry in at least those states and likely several more, and it could also have implications in Arizona.

There are two cases in federal court right now challenging Arizona’s ban on gay marriage. Lawyers for both sides are in the process of filing briefs with Judge John Sedwick.

But before Sedwick even holds a hearing in the Arizona case, there could be a decision from the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on marriage bans in Idaho, Hawaii and Nevada. The court heard oral arguments last month.

“Sometimes, the Ninth Circuit is known to take quite a while to write decisions, but I suspect on this issue there’s a feeling of urgency,” said Jennifer Pizer, senior counsel with gay rights group Lambda Legal. “If the Ninth Circuit issues a decision confirming that same-sex couples have the same rights as everyone else, I do have the impression that Judge Sedwick would not dawdle. He would put that decision into effect.”

Pizer and other legal experts think the U.S. Supreme Court might not take up a gay marriage case until a federal appeals court upholds a state’s marriage ban and creates a conflict for the justices to resolve.