State officials in Alabama asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday evening to postpone same-sex marriages in the state, after lower trial and appeals courts refused any delay. At present, a federal trial judge’s ruling striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban is due to go into effect on February 9. The state officials asked the Justices to act before then.
If the postponement request is denied by the Supreme Court, Alabama would become the thirty-seventh state where such marriages are permitted. The plea was filed with Justice Clarence Thomas, who handles emergency legal matters from the region of the Eleventh Circuit. He may act alone or share the question with his colleagues. Most actions by the Court on delay requests regarding same-sex marriage have been by the full Court.
Alabama’s action marked the second time that a same-sex marriage case from the Eleventh Circuit had reached the Supreme Court on a delay request. Earlier, the Justices cleared the way for such unions in Florida. In both instances, the constitutional question remains undecided by the Eleventh Circuit Court, but cases are moving forward there.
In the Alabama application, state officials urged the Court to put the case on hold until after the Justices issue a final decision in the four newly granted cases from the Sixth Circuit. The Sixth Circuit Court is the first federal appeals court to uphold such bans in its region. The Sixth Circuit cases are due to be heard by the Justices in late April, and decided by the end of the current Term, probably in late June.