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Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

N.C. Seeks Hearing On Same-Sex Marriage Cases

(CN) - North Carolina lawmakers have asked a federal judge for a hearing on their motion to intervene in two pending same-sex marriage cases, despite a court-imposed noon deadline to present their arguments in writing.

On Thursday night U.S. District Judge William Osteen denied House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Phil Berger the eight days they sought to "Investigate the files and conduct appropriate research in order to adequately prepare the pleading."

"In light of the stage of this litigation, and the arguments and position previously asserted by both parties to this case, this court does not find good cause to extending the time for filing a proposed Answer ..." Osteen said.

The Republican lawmakers filed their request for a hearing shortly before the deadline.

In an accompanying 14-page document, the lawmakers stack out positions that already long familiar to anyone following the same-sex marriage debate in North Carolina. The officials contend the court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over the matter, and that the challenges laws prohibiting same-sex marriage "are, at most, subject to a rational basis test."

The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which has jurisdiction over the Carolinas, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland, ruled in July that Virginia's same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional. That decision, Bostic v. Schaefer, was put on hold by an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The lawmakers contend Bostic shouldn't be applied in North Carolina because "it did not follow binding Supreme Court precedent ... inappropriately applied heighted or strict scrutiny to the challenged law after unnecessary concessions made by the defendants; and ... the outcome in Bostic was tainted by unnecessary factual concessions and omissions made by the defendants which were not made in this litigation."

In the event the court determines Bostic does control, the lawmakers say they "wish to preserve the issues for reconsideration by the Fourth Circuit panel or en banc Court, or for consideration by the Supreme Court."

The motion and accompanying papers were filed by Robert Potter Jr., of Charlotte, N.C., Noel Johnson of the ActRight Legal Foundation in Plainfield, Ind., and California lawyer John Eastman, of the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence, one of country's best known opponents of same-sex marriage.

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