On February 9, 2015, the orders in Searcy v. Strange (PB-AL-0005
in this Clearinghouse) and Strawser v. Strange (PB-AL-0010
in this Clearinghouse), took effect: the ban on same-sex marriage was now illegal in Alabama, at least according to the federal courts. However, the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court strongly disagreed. He had sent an order to probate judges and state employees, threatening them with legal action by the governor, if they issued or recognized same-sex marriage licenses. The chief justice claimed that the federal court orders bound only the Alabama Attorney General and his employees and no one else.
Alabama's probate judges faced competing orders: the federal court's would allow same-sex marriage, but the chief justice's would not. The result was legal chaos. Some probate judges followed the federal court order and issued same-sex marriage licenses but most probate judges refused and many ceased issuing marriage licenses entirely, including the Mobile County Probate Court.
On February 9, 2015, the attorneys in Searcy v. Davis filed this lawsuit, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, on behalf of same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses that day in Mobile County. The defendants were the Alabama Governor, Attorney General, Chief Justice, and various Mobile County officials. Plaintiffs claimed that their Fourteenth Amendment rights were being violated and they requested an emergency injunction commanding the defendants to issue marriage licenses.
On February 10, 2015, the District Court (Judge Callie V. S. Granade) denied the plaintiffs' request for immediate relief but it invited them to participate in a preliminary injunction hearing, in Strawser
, in two days time. On February 24, 2015, Judge Granade dismissed the Mobile County officials from the case, granting the stipulation for dismissal filed by plaintiffs and the county officials.
In response to the Strawser
litigation, the plaintiffs eventually got their marriage licenses. As a result, on March 26, 2015, Judge Granade granted their motion to dismiss: the claims against the governor were dismissed with prejudice; but the claims against the attorney general and the chief justice would be dismissed without prejudice unless they filed an objection before April 2, which the chief justice did.
As of April 8, 2015, Judge Granade has yet to rule on that objection.David Hamstra - 04/08/2015