By Tom Busselberg and Dan Metcalf
Clipper Editorial Staff
FARMINGTON - The U.S. Supreme Court has halted same-sex marriages in Utah, granting a stay in favor of the state while it appeals Judge Robert Shelby's ruling against Amendment 3.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor referred Utah's request to the full court, which granted the stay on same-sex marriages until Utah can present its case in defense of Amendment 3 in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The Court's decision did not address the validity of same-sex marriages performed since Shelby's ruling in late December. Davis County complied with Shelby's ruling, providing licenses to local same-sex couples while handling over flow from Salt Lake County couples who wished to avoid long lines.
At about 8:30 a.m. Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court imposed an immediate hold on the issuing of any more marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Utah.
The Davis County Attorney and Clerk/Auditor said they will follow that ruling until notified otherwise.
"Luckily we didn't have anyone in the process for a license" in the same-sex category, said Clerk/Auditor Steve Rawlings. "If anyone comes in now for one, we won't issue a license until a final decision is made – and then we'll wait for our attorney's office to give us guidance."
"We're on hold right now," he reiterated.
"From what we know initially, the U.S. Supreme Court has put a stay or hold on Judge Shelby's decision," said County Attorney Troy Rawlings. "In our view, the law of the land reverts back to exactly as it was prior to Judge Shelby's decision, while Utah's appeal of that decision is pending in the 10th Circuit Court."
He explained that the stay issued by the Supreme Court is to allow the 10th Circuit to render their decision and opinion, and try restoring the prior status quo in Utah law.
"It's also possible the body of the Supreme Court could even reverse their own stay, if they choose to do while the appeal is pending in the 10th Circuit," Troy Rawlings said. "Utah's appeal of Judge Shelby's appeal will still go to the 10th Circuit first.
"The Supreme Court has not taken the case away. What they've merely done is said, at least for now, 'we're going to halt, put a hold on Judge Shelby's decision," he continued.
Status quo is reinstated while the 10th Circuit has a chance to hear the appeal. After that body renders its decision, then either the Supreme Court can render a ruling. Ultimately, the case might end up in the highest court of the land for a decision "on substance," Troy Rawlings said.
"The rest of the body (Supreme Court) could step in and could undo their own decision," he said. "That's why it's fluid. We're trying to keep up to date in real time so the clerk's office is in compliance no matter which way it is (the ruling)."
Utah's Amendment 3 passed in November of 2004 and was challenged in U.S. District Court, where Shelby ruled the law violated tenets of the 14th Amendment, including guarantees of due process and equal protection.
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