Having waited for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the issue of same sex marriage, it was unsurprising that last week the Mississippi Supreme Court remanded a same sex divorce case to chancery court where the divorce will presumably be granted.
The State, as Appellee, confessed the Appellant’s motion for entry of judgment due to the Supreme Court’s ruling this summer in Obergefell.
Despite the uncontested posture of the case, Justices Dickinson and Coleman dissented. The dissents argue that the Court may not have to follow the U.S. Supreme Court if the decision was wrong. Mississippi College Law Professor Matt Steffey panned the dissents in the Clarion-Ledger article:
Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts wrote the dissent in Obergefell v. Hodges, which is why Matt Steffey, constitutional law expert and Mississippi College of Law professor, doesn’t believe Roberts’ opinion can be used for a valid argument.
“A dissent is the opinion of the side that lost,” Steffey said.
Steffey said Dickinson is simply saying the U.S. Supreme Court got it wrong. Steffey also said Dickinson’s argument is the same one that the Ku Klux Klan, the White Citizens Council and former Governor Ross Barnett used to oppose Brown v. Board of Education.
“It’s exactly the same line of argument considered and rejected by our founding fathers,” Steffey said. “I’m talking about the line of thinking where every person gets to decide for themselves what the law means instead of following binding decisions of the court.”…
Justice Coleman wrote a separate statement that used a hypothetical situation in which the Supreme Court ruled every household must own a zoo animal.
“I would be writing the same statement and expressing the same concerns if faced with a United States Supreme Court decision that held the Constitution of the United States required every household in America to own a giraffe,” Coleman wrote.
In his statement, he concludes that requiring households to own giraffes has “no constitutional support.”
“This is not what you would expect from a serious-minded judge,” Steffey said.
The dissents are also attracting negative comments on blogs.
It’s worth pointing out that Mississippi’s ban on gay marriage has already been overturned in federal court by District Judge Carlton Reeves as a result of a directive from the Fifth Circuit to follow Obergefell:
“Obergefell, in both its Fourteenth and First Amendment iterations, is the law of the land and, consequently, the law of this circuit and should not be taken lightly by actors within the jurisdiction of this court,” Judge Jerry Smith wrote for a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court.The panel heard oral arguments in the cases in January, but opted not to rule before the U.S. Supreme Court settled the issue in Obergefell v. Hodges on Friday. Now, the panel has given district judges in the three states until July 17 to issue final rulings in the cases.
Judge Smith was appointed to the Fifth Circuit by President Reagan in 1987. He’s conservative and knows what he’s doing.
This is an interesting decision. I love it when the Mississippi Supreme Court issues interesting decisions.
I definitely thought the Court had to follow the Obergefell decision under Marbury v. Madison. Justice Coleman says that may not be the case.
What would the U.S. Supreme Court do if a state court decision on gay marriage goes the other way and rejects Obergefell? Would there be another 5-4 split along the same lines as the original decision? Or would it be closer to a 9-0 vote on the Marbury v. Madison issue? Or something in between? My guess is 9-0.
These are just a few of the many interesting questions this case raises.