In this case—actually, two consolidated cases—taxpayers in New York challenged a local executive order and a state policy that recognized out-of-state same-sex marriages. At this time, same-sex marriages were not permitted under New York law. The taxpayer plaintiffs lost in the lower courts and appealed to the Court of Appeals.
A local citizen and the ACLU sued to have a Ten Commandments Monument declared unconstitutional. The district court ruled in favor of the county, holding that the monument did not violate the constitution. The citizen and the ACLU appealed, and a 3-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit reversed the district court and held that the monument did violate the Establishment Clause. The county asked the full court to reconsider the decision of the panel (which is called “rehearing” the case).
A retired U.S. Park Service employee sued, alleging a cross erected in the Mojave Desert, in honor of World War I veterans, violated the Establishment Clause. The lower courts ruled in favor of the employee. However, the Supreme Court held that those courts had not conducted the proper analysis, and reversed the decision of the court of appeals and sent the case back to the district court for further proceedings.
A Christian sorority and a Christian fraternity at San Diego State University were denied official status because they required members to profess faith in Christ. The district court ruled against the sorority and fraternity. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit agreed that the university’s general non-discrimination policy was generally constitutional, but that it may have been applied against these groups in an unconstitutional manner. The Ninth Circuit sent the case back to the district court.
What is at issue is whether the letter and spirit of Monell permit certain kinds of relief to be granted against municipal defendants without a finding of Monell liability.
Whether the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act, which affords custody and visitation orders full faith and credit, or the Defense of Marriage Act, which does not require full faith and credit be afforded to rights arising from same-sex relationships treated as marriage, controls when Alabama is asked to give full faith and credit to California parentage and custody rights arising from a California court order insofar as Alabama‟s laws expressly declare that any “union replicating marriage of or between persons of the same sex . . . in any other jurisdiction shall be considered and treated in all respects as having no legal force or effect” in Alabama.
A church in Orlando, Florida, had a ministry of holding church services for and of feeding the homeless in a public park. After residents in the surrounding neighborhood complained, Orlando passed an ordinance specifically aimed at making the church’s services impossible. The church sued, arguing the ordinance violated its First Amendment rights of free speech, free exercise of religion, and free assembly; and the Florida Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Unfortunately, the district court and the court of appeals ruled against the church.
The Association of Christian Schools International, one of its member schools, and 5 of that school’s students sued the University of California officials who are responsible for determining whether high school courses qualify as “college preparatory” courses. These officials had denied that status to 38 course by Christian schools. Unfortunately, the district court and the court of appeals ruled against the plaintiffs.
It is difficult to overstate what the court below has done. Simply put, and contrary to precedent from this Court and the United States Supreme Court, the court below created new law grounded in nothing more than a passing reference by this Court—a reference noting that some courts have found an equitable interest in custody and visitation matters on a de facto or psychological parenting theory.
After the California Supreme Court declared homosexuals could marry, voters amended the state Constitution to prohibit homosexual marriage. Then activists tried to have the amendment declared unconstitutional. This time the Supreme Court ruled correctly by refusing to undo the amendment. However, that left open the question of what to do about same-sex “marriages” that had been solemnized in the interim. The court held those marriages were valid.